SHANE WATSON has been warned he must overcome increased competition for his place in the national team until he resumes bowling.
Watson is due to make his first appearance as a specialist batsman on Wednesday in the one-dayer against the West Indies in Canberra. He has stopped bowling in a bid to overcome the injuries that have dogged him for 15 months.
Australia's Test and one-day captain Michael Clarke said that while he was pleased his deputy was available for selection, his claims for a place were lower as a batsman than they were as a seam-bowling all-rounder.
''I don't think anybody walks into the Australian cricket team. It's about performance. The strength of Shane is that he's performed over a long period of time, in state cricket and for Australia in all three forms of the game. He's vice-captain of the team and it'll be great to have Watto back, that's for sure,'' Clarke said after he won the Allan Border Medal on Monday night and Watson won the Twenty20 award.
''As I've said to Watto, while he's not bowling he goes into a much bigger pool of players. The pool of batsmen is much bigger than the pool of all-rounders in Australian cricket at the moment but Shane knows if he's at his best, he's as good as any player in the world, let alone in the Australian team … My job as captain is to do whatever I can to help him get back to being the best batsman he can be and help Australia have success in India.''
Watson, who was alongside Clarke when the captain made the comments, reiterated his belief that halting bowling would help his consistency with the bat.
''Hopefully I can get some continuity with my batting over the next few months and then slowly build into getting some bowling under my belt because the perfect world for me would be making sure I'm able to bowl and contribute with the ball during the Ashes,'' Watson said. ''The times where I've had the most success playing for Australia is where I've been able to play games back-to-back.''
Watson is part of Australia's Test squad for the looming series in India but what position he will occupy in the batting order is unclear.