Watson might return to middle order

Australia

All-rounder Shane Watson's position in the batting order remained in the balance, 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.

All-rounder Shane Watson's position in the batting order remained in the balance, 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.

Watson 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.

"We may do, put Shane down the order, yeah, but at the end of the day, it's the selectors getting together and making that decision. We always consult the captain about what he considers is the best batting order as well, so for us we'll make that decision once we see the wicket in Durham," said coach Darren Lehmann.

Captain Michael Clarke all but confirmed Watson will play at Chester-le-Street, despite the discarded Ed Cowan's push for selection on the back of two impressive half-centuries in the warmup match against Sussex at Hove in late July. While the 32-year-old Watson's Test average as an opening batsman is decidedly stronger than his career aggregate in the middle order.

"Shane has made it clear to me and everyone that he loves opening the batting. The positive with Shane Watson is that he is such a good bowler. It's a tough one, we have to work out first and foremost what is the best for the team and then give Watson the opportunity to play where he feels most comfortable and where he thinks he can have the most success – because if he is scoring runs and taking wickets, it goes a long way to helping us win Test matches," added Clarke.

"We will continue to talk and assess what is best for the team. Shane understood my reasoning for opening with Warner in the second innings and was more than happy to move to number four, and has made it clear that wherever I want him to bat, he will do that for the team."

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