Selectors show faith again in 'heartbreak' Watson

Selectors have again put their faith Shane Watson, believing he will provide the balance to the Australian team for their defence of this year's Ashes.

updated: May 20, 2009 06:36 IST
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Selectors have again put their faith in injury-prone allrounder Shane Watson, believing he will provide the balance to the Australian team for their defence of this year's Ashes against England.

Watson has been the heartbreak kid of Australian cricket with a series of injuries tormenting his playing career and restricting him to just eight Test appearances since his debut in January 2005.

Andrew Hilditch's selection panel showed their belief in the 29-year-old Watson when he was preferred for one of the contested all-rounder spots ahead of Andrew Symonds in the 16-man party for the July-August five-Test series.

Watson was named subject to proving his fitness from a minor groin injury, which forced him to miss a short Indian Premier League stint in South Africa this month.

But he said he expected to bowl in the nets next week and be ready to go for next month's Ashes tour.

"I am really stoked that I have been given an opportunity over Andrew, it's been a bit of a battle, I replaced him during the (last year's) Indian tour and then missed out during the summer here for the first few Tests," Watson said Wednesday.

"Of course, it's bitter-sweet because I love the opportunity of playing Test cricket for Australia and you feel for one of your mates if he doesn't get picked.

"But I will definitely be making the most of it and having a lot of fun."

Watson, who has been derailed in the past by stress back injuries, has been vying with Symonds as the allrounder in the Australian team since Andrew Flintoff's match-winning exploits with bat and ball for England in the 2005 Ashes series.

"Initially, I got my opportunity in the (2006-07) Ashes and unfortunately I got injured and Andrew (Symonds) made the most of that opportunity and has been performing well over the last couple of years," Watson said.

"But in recent times he hasn't helped himself in regards to what he's been doing and I've just got to make the most of the opportunity that's presented itself."

Hilditch vouched for Watson's qualities to be included in Australia's squad.

"Shane was in extremely good form before his minor injury and in addition he gives us quality pace bowling and he's capable of batting anywhere in the top six, so we think he's a very good selection for the Ashes tour," Hilditch said.

Watson's Test statistics underline his underachievement in the five-day game.

In eight Tests he has scored 257 runs at 19.77 and has taken 14 wickets at 35.57.