sport

Arthur ponders Watson switch

Australia coach Mickey Arthur has suggested Shane Watson could move to number four in the batting order, with Michael Clarke to stay at five.

The retirement of Ricky Ponting leaves a gap in the Australian top order ahead of the upcoming three-Test series against Sri Lanka.

Usman Khawaja and Phil Hughes are favourites to earn recalls, while Rob Quiney remains in contention despite the slow start to his Test career.

While Arthur and the selection panel remain undecided as to who will come in, the South African said former opener Watson could drop further down the order.

"We haven't even discussed it yet, so I'm obviously putting a personal opinion," he said. "Without wanting to name names, it will probably be a guy who will come in and bat three and possibly a move for Watto to four.

"It just looks right and gives us a bit of stability.

"Michael and I, once we see who that guy is - and we've got in our minds who we think the guy is, but we still need to discuss that as a selection panel - and then sit down in Hobart next Monday when we arrive there, we'll make a decision on what our preferred batting order is going to be."

Of the top order, only Clarke and Michael Hussey have scored runs consistently, despite Ed Cowan and David Warner both claiming centuries in the 1-0 series loss to South Africa.

Arthur is prepared to stick with the opening pair and said the top four needed to provide a platform.

"Cowan and Warner showed us glimpses this series. I thought they were very good in patches," he said.

"We need a lot more consistency from especially our top four. We know at five and six we've got the best batsman in the world going into this Test match and Mr Cricket (Hussey)."

A move for Watson could help Australia's cause and the 31-year-old said a drop in the order could help his bowling.

"Mickey has flagged that with me and I'm definitely open to it," Watson told Fox Sports.

"If it means I'm probably able to bowl a few more overs throughout a game and still provide what I can do with the bat I think that's only a really good thing for the team.

"I might be mentally a little bit fresher and physically a little bit fresher going into the change of innings and that sort of thing so I'm definitely open to it."