Cricket: Watson eager for return to top of Oz batting order

Watson is aiming to return for the one-day series against West Indies. Photo / NZPA
Watson is aiming to return for the one-day series against West Indies. Photo / NZPA

Shane Watson hopes to bowl during the Ashes series later this year but for now is keen to resume his 38-test career purely as an opening batsman.

The injury-prone 31-year-old has struggled to cope with the bowling workload over the past 18 months and broke down with another calf strain during the Boxing Day test against Sri Lanka.

Watson is aiming to return for the one-day series against West Indies starting on February 1, but selectors will face a quandary when they meet to pick the squad for the four-test series against India starting later that month.

With the Sydneysider conceding his body cannot cope with the rigours of medium-pace bowling, the panel must decide whether his record of 2481 test runs at an average of 37.02 can justify his place in the top six.

"It's come to a time when I need to give my batting a decent crack to see how good I can be," Watson said on Fox Sports show Inside Cricket.

"I know when I'm stringing games together I've got more chance of being successful.

"The last three times I've been out injured has been because of the same calf.

"A lot of it comes down to the amount I've been bowling. Unfortunately my body can't handle it."

Ideally, Watson wants to return to the top of the order, where he has enjoyed the most success averaging 44 from 24 tests - despite there being a void to fill in the middle order with the retirement of Mike Hussey.

"I do love opening in test cricket and all forms of the game," said Watson.

"Over the last few years I've been very comfortable to move down the order to fit in with the amount I was bowling and trying to get the best out of myself as an allrounder.

"And if the team requires me to bat No 3 or No 4 then I'm very happy to do that," he said.

"But my preference definitely is to open."

However, Watson has not closed the door on returning to the bowling crease as early as the five-test Ashes series in England from July, although not as the allrounder the Australian selectors are so eager to include.

"In the perfect world, I'd like to be able to bowl in the Ashes - if picked as a batsman - but for now I just want to string some games together."

-AAP

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