Gilchrist doesn't want Watson demoted

Australia

Former wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist has implored Australia to retain all-rounder Shane Watson at the top of the order.

Former wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist has implored Australia to retain all-rounder Shane Watson at the top of the order.

Watson's position remained in the balance this week, as Australia pondered the makeup of their XI ahead of the fourth Ashes Test ,which will get underway at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street on Friday.

He has strung together six starts in the series so far, but not once moved beyond the 46 scored in the first Test at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, with his status as an opener consistently the subject of criticism.

The left-handed David Warner, meanwhile, has returned to the team after serving a ban for trying to punch Englishman Joe Root during the recent Champions Trophy in Birmingham.

Warner stepped to the crease at six in the order in the first innings in Manchester, falling for a mere five, but impressed as an opening batsman en route to an attacking 41 in the second innings. The right-handed Watson, to facilitate Warner's promotion, was moved to four – and fell for 18.

"I think that's the order that could prove most beneficial in the long term. But I can understand why they changed the order in the second innings at Old Trafford," Gilchrist wrote in <i>The Independent</i>.

"They were probably spoilt for choice, which is quite ironic given the concerns around the batting order in recent times. Warner will play the majority of his Test cricket in Australia and, given the pace and bounce in the pitches at home, coming in at six won't be an issue for Warner as it might be in some countries like India and England.

"Before the series, I was of the opinion that Watson had to return to the top of the order and I still believe that is where he is best suited to batting. That's where Watson himself wants to play and he knows he will be judged on his results there.

"He hasn't yet been able to nail a big score in this series but his role in the successful first innings can't be forgotten. He didn't reach a personal milestone but if you have an opening partnership of 70 or 80 on the first day of a Test, both openers have done their job."

England have retained the Ashes on the back of a 14-run win at Trent Bridge, 347-run triumph at Lord's and draw in Manchester. The third result, however, might have read considerably different – had rain not ultimately stifled the Aussies' dominance for the bulk of the fixture.

"The mood in the Australian camp should be positive after the Old Trafford Test. At the end of the Lord's Test I don't think anyone was really contemplating a turnaround that would return the urn to Australia," added Gilchrist.

"But looking at the bigger picture, they have taken some important positive steps in the overall development of this team, not just for this tour but the return series in Australia and the coming years as well."

The fourth – and penultimate – Test will get underway at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street, Durham on Friday.

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