sport

Watson to focus on batting

Shane Watson is to drop bowling to focus on regaining his place in the Australia Test team as a specialist batsman, according to Micky Arthur.

Injuries have plagued the all-rounder of late, and a new plan under consideration by team management would see Watson considered only as a top-order batsman.

Watson missed the third Test win over Sri Lanka after limping out of the Boxing Day Test with a calf injury but is hopeful of a return during the upcoming one-day series.

Providing he does not break down again, Watson will be chosen for the four-Test tour to India next month but as a batsman only.

"Watto wants to come back as a batsman. He wants to come back into the team with a primary focus of batting," coach Mickey Arthur confirmed.

"He feels every time he bats and then he gets injured bowling, he just loses a bit of momentum with his batting.

"Once he feels his body is going well and that he feels he's cemented his batting position, we will then take another look at how we want to go with Shane in terms of bowling.

"And that's a decision that only Watto can make. We'll be working very closely with him on that, because obviously Shane bowling a couple of overs is really good for us.

"Shane Watson absolutely loves bowling. He still wants to bowl, but his primary focus right now is to make the team as an out-and-out batsman."

Arthur left the door open for Watson to return as an opener, especially if he permanently drops bowling from his CV.

Watson's average is better against the new ball than it is down the order and his two Test centuries have come when he has opened.

"I guess if he's not bowling it's worth the consideration," Arthur said of Watson fulfilling an opening role.

"I still maintain that No.4 was a really good fit for Shane Watson but that was (with) Shane Watson bowling some overs as well.

"We're lucky in that I think Watto can bat anywhere from No.1-6 in our order and has had some success there.

"Who knows? Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't (open) but it's probably too early to discuss it."

Meanwhile, Arthur confirmed veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin in prime position to tour England as Matthew Wade's back-up for the Ashes.

He said: "We'll be taking two keepers to the Ashes in England so (it's) really important we know who our second keeper is and he's comfortable that he knows exactly where he stands.

"At the moment the second keeper is definitely Brad Haddin."