Ready for the opener`s role: Watson

Last Updated: Feb 19, 2011, 18:08 PM IST

Ahmadabad: Fitting into the shoes of Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, who were extremely successfully as openers for Australia, is no mean task but Shane Watson is confident of doing a decent job for the world champions in the 2011 edition of the World Cup.

Watson use to bat low down the order but has been tasked to open the innings by the team management and the fast-bowling all rounder is ready to live up to the challenge.

"It`s much different and bigger responsibility opening the innings than batting at number seven in the last World Cup, a role Adam Gilchrist and Mathew Hayden did so beautifully throughout their career.”

"It`s a great responsibility and I`m looking forward to that challenge," said the 29-year-old Queenslander after the team`s practice session at the Motera Stadium here today.

"In the end would be doing my best and in the end hopefully have a consistent tournament," said the all-rounder, who has scored 3353 runs in 123 ODIs and grabbed 127 wickets.

Australia, who have won three World Cups on the trot and have been unbeaten in the last 29 matches in the mega event going back to 1999, open their campaign against Zimbabwe here on Monday.

Watson, who scored 145 runs and took four wickets in the 2007 edition in the West Indies, is aware of his crucial role as a batting all rounder in the team.

"The role of all-rounders is always important for all teams. Most of the teams are geared around what the all-rounders can provide. In all forms of cricket, all-rounders` role is important. It`s a good challenge especially if you bowl second.

"Even in Twenty 20 World Championship I had an important role in bowling but it did not go too well. I have been coming behind men who bowl at such good pace (Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson). My role is to keep the scoring rate
down and pick up a few wickets. I definitely know my role within the team. It`s going to be very important for the balance of the side," the beefy all rounder said.

Watson brushed aside talks that Australia are a bit down having lost two practice matches against India and South Africa in the run-up to the tournament.

"Hopefully, morale has not been affected much. (We are) just continuing to find our feet and the balance of the team, so I would not read too much into it. We have played lot of cricket in the last 3-4 months. Coming off a long flight, to come here and play a few practice matches. The last couple of days have been excellent. Everyone has had a hit and a bit of a bowl.”

"We played some good cricket throughout this summer in Australia. Still some improvement needed in ODI cricket. The last couple of days have been good in getting used to the Indian conditions, getting our game plan (in place), getting our role within the team exactly where it should be. It`s going to be a great challenge," he said.

"In India, I have been lucky to have spent so much time over the last few years especially in getting used to the conditions," added Watson who plays for IPL team Rajasthan Royals under former teammate and compatriot Shane Warne.

About the tie against Zimbabwe, Watson said the team is excited to be playing in the mega event and they want to start the tournament with a bang.

"It`s going to be very exciting to be part of the World Cup. We as a group are in a very good place. Everyone is jumping out of his skin as it`s not often you get an opportunity to play in the World Cup. It`s going to be, hopefully, a great start for us," he said.

PTI