Watson aims to stamp name on No 4 spot

GREG BUCKLE
Last updated 12:31 13/12/2012
Shane Watson
Getty
SHANE ABERCROMBIE: "I certainly enjoyed opening but it meant I wasn't really able to bowl that much really, considering I was going to have to go in and take the first ball."

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Australian vice-captain Shane Watson says he's determined to make No.4 his own after having mixed success at various other slots in the batting order.

Watson has done well as an opener but has found No 3 a battle, while his previous stints at six and seven have also failed to match his performances at the top of the order.

The retirement of No 4 Ricky Ponting earlier this month had led to a reshuffle of Australia's batting order for Friday's first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart, with Watson moving down one spot and former opener Phil Hughes recalled to bat in the crucial No 3 position.

Watson feels the move to No 4 will help keep him physically and mentally fresh for bowling stints, avoiding the thorny issue of his bowling workload that skipper Michael Clarke grappled with in the third Test against South Africa in Perth earlier this month.

"Even in the last Test match, Michael didn't bowl me - in one spell especially - when I could have bowled," Watson said when asked why he only bowled nine overs in the innings.

"He was moreso just giving me a chance to be as fresh as I could going into that second innings in the batting side of things.

"It just gives me that time to physically be able to just freshen up but also mentally.

"A couple of times, I was still caught up in my bowling side of things when I've gone out to bat and got out very early.

"At least it gives me that time to be able to reflect on how things have panned out with the ball and re-align to be able to make sure I get it right with the bat.

"I think this is more a permanent move - I hope anyway.

"I certainly enjoyed opening but it meant I wasn't really able to bowl that much really, considering I was going to have to go in and take the first ball.

"Four hopefully will suit me really well."

Australia and Sri Lanka will have their final hit-outs on Thursday ahead of the first Test.

The home side are weighing up which pace bowler to leave out of their side with Mitchell Starc, Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson appearing to be competing for two spots to partner Peter Siddle on a green-top wicket.

That's assuming spinner Nathan Lyon holds his place in the side. Watson says there's no doubt Lyon will play.

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- AAP

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