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Shane Watson


Watson wants to cement No.3 spot

Newly minted Australian No.3 Shane Watson has drawn inspiration from the way Ricky Ponting batted at first drop, and says he wants to hold onto the position long term.

Watson has played just 17 one-day and nine Test innings batting at No.3, but says he wants to make the position his own ahead of the return Ashes series next month.

First drop is typically where you play your best batsman, and the 32-year-old says he enjoys the extra responsibility the role brings.

It has forced a change to his approach to an innings but the allrounder says he's looked at how Ponting - Australia's leading Test run-scorer with 13,378 - dominated the position for more than a decade.

"I think three does suit my game," Watson, who has opened the batting in 52 of his 85 Test innings, told AAP on Friday.

"When you're opening, you're the one setting up the situation of a game.

"At No.3, I have to adapt a little bit more depending on the situation when I come in and bat accordingly.

"There's no doubt that's what Ricky Ponting was unbelievably good at.

"That's the reason why he probably set the tone for how No.3 batsmen should bat all around the world - to be able to assess a situation when he came in.

"I learnt a hell of a lot just seeing how amazing a job he did batting at No.3."

At opener, Watson hit two centuries and 15 half-centuries for an average of nearly 41.

His time at No.3, while a much smaller sample size, has reaped greater rewards at an average of 44.89.

In fact, his average at No.3 is superior to every other position in the top seven - though it is inflated by his brilliant 176 at The Oval in the fifth Ashes Test in August.

That innings not only convinced Watson that his future lay at first drop - it reminded him he belonged in Test cricket fullstop.

After a string of failures and a top score of just 46 in the first three Tests, Watson admits he wondered if his spot in the team was safe.

But the drought-breaking century, his first since 2010, proved his doubts were misplaced.

"It was very important to know deep down that I still have got what it takes," Watson said.

"Moreso mentally than anything, to be able to bat for a long period of time in a Test match.

"Because I hadn't done it for a long period of time.

"I just knew I was lucky to continue to get an opportunity because especially in the first three Tests, opening, I didn't score the runs that I wanted.

"There's those doubts that float around your head for periods of time when you don't score the runs you feel you can.

"When it comes about, it certainly is rewarding to know 'if I continue to put a few things together, then I've got a chance to be able to do it again'."

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