Shane Watson backs Australia batsman Phil Hughes to shine on his Test return

Last Updated: 13/12/12 11:43am

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Shane Watson: dropping down a position to number four

Shane Watson: dropping down a position to number four

Sky Bet

Shane Watson likes the look of Australia's remodelled batting order for the opening Test against Sri Lanka.

Australia start life after Ricky Ponting's retirement on a newly-laid Hobart wicket that has proved a minefield for top-order batsmen already this season.

The failings of Australia's batting line-up were a major concern throughout the 1-0 Test series defeat to South Africa and captain Michael Clarke led an animated discussion with his batsmen to pour over the importance of laying a foundation.

The pressure is, however, set to be firmly on their shoulders as they look to cover for the substantial loss of Ponting - the second-highest Test run scorer in history.

Australia's reshuffle has seen Phil Hughes handed his latest return - albeit this time at three - with Watson dropping down to four.

David Warner, who scored a ton at Bellerive in a loss to New Zealand a year ago, and Ed Cowan will again lead off the innings, and in Hughes and Watson they have two men who have opened in the recent past.

"To have three guys who have opened the batting in the past is only a real good thing," said Watson.

"Hopefully Phil Hughes doesn't have to go in too early and the openers are able to do their job the way they want to, but it's only a good thing, especially in conditions more suited to the bowlers."

Watson has backed Hughes to deliver on his return after he was dropped for the second time following a horror show against the Kiwis in Hobart 12 months ago.

The 24-year-old left-hander has since worked on his game and scored runs with both Worcestershire and South Australia to earn his recall.

"I have been able to see how his game has evolved over the last six months," said Watson.

"It is going to be exciting to see it first-hand playing with him again. The visual changes he's made in his game are impressive, but you expect that from Phil."

Watson is also determined to pin down the number four position after previously reinventing himself as a Test opener.

"I think this is more a permanent move - I hope anyway," he said. "I know how important the number four spot is - to be able to hopefully set up an innings when the platform has already been set for me, or come in and build a big total if we've lost a few early wickets."


Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara has backed his bowlers to test Australia's new-look order should the Bellerive wicket retain its recent "sporting" characteristics.

"We've seen some of the games that [Australia] has played. There's been a bit of nibble about but it's been sporting to both sides," he said.

"If it stays the same, I think our fast bowlers will have a really good chance against the Aussie batsmen."

Sangakkara also confirmed Sri Lanka would decide between once-capped left-hander Dimuth Karunaratne and Tharanga Paranavitana to partner Tillakaratne Dilshan at the top of the order.

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