Sydney: Shane Watson’s short-term international future remains uncertain as he recovers from a calf strain, but Australia’s coach and selector Mickey Arthur sees the possibility of the 30-year-old making his Test return in the middle order, which is considered a more orthodox batting position for an all-rounder.
Arthur said all-rounder Watson remains one of the team’s most important players despite Australia’s success without him this summer.
Watson has stated his wish to remain in Australia’s top order, but the rise of David Warner and Ed Cowan as an opening combination has weakened the Test and ODI vice-captain’s claim to an opener’s berth.
The new John Inverarity-led panel has had brief discussions with Watson about a new role for him this summer, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
“He can bat anywhere. I think ultimately he’ll bat down the order and bowl at some stage. We need to have that discussion. We’ve broached it once or twice before but nothing definite,” Arthur said.
“Then it’s where best he fits for us and where best it fits for him. He’s going to be doing some bowling and Michael’s used him wisely through the period that he had him before this summer. It’s how he can sustain that bowling and open the batting that’s going to be the question,” he added.
Watson became a genuine strike bowler under Clarke’s captaincy, after being used more as a fifth bowling option towards the end of Ricky Ponting’s reign.
But that coincided with a slump with the bat last year, when he passed 50 only once from 11 innings and averaged a poor 24 – down from his mark of 43 in 2010.