Ponting throws weight behind Watson to make his Test return

Melbourne, Sep 20 (UNI) Captain Ricky Ponting has thrown his weight behind Shane Watson whom he considers as the best possible replacement for Andrew Symonds and said the all-rounder is likely to figure in the playing XI during the four-Test series against India that begins from October 9.

''Him (Watson) for Symonds is probably the absolutely likely swap at the moment,'' Ponting was quoted as saying by 'The Australian' on the eve of the team's departure to India.

Ponting strongly felt that Watson, with his all-round abilities, could have managed to grab a place even if Symonds was around.

''I think he might have played anyway if Symonds was around just for that flexibility and what his bowling can offer,'' Ponting opined.

''I would be surprised if he didn't play in the opening game,'' the captain said.

It could be recalled that it was Watson's spate of injuries, which allowed Symonds to cement his place in the Test side and now Watson has got an opportunity to establish himself in the team.

Watson has been a regular member of the Australian team but the burly all-rounder has played just three Tests and the last one came against West Indies in Novemeber 2005.

''He's been pretty harshly viewed in recent years but you don't average almost 50 in first-class cricket, particularly batting at the Gabba, if you haven't got the right game.

''He could get himself picked in the side as a batter alone, but what he can give us with the ball is a bonus,'' Ponting added.

While most of the experts feel that the Australian team will find it hard without a quality spinner in the their ranks against India but Ponting said, ''It will be tough but I'm pretty excited about it.'' Australia will bank on uncapped spinners Bryce McGain and Jason Krejza on the turning track's of India.

''They are very different spinners but at the same time they could complement each other really well if we happen to play both in the same side,'' Ponting said adding, ''Krejza always impressed me from the time I first saw him at the academy five or six years ago.'' ''I've been talking about him quietly for a long time because what I see with him is what a lot of other off-spinners don't have, the ability to turn the ball really big. He puts more work on the ball than probably any off-spinner I've seen,'' he added.

However, Ponting asserted that his side would look to threaten India with its pace battery which has gave them success over the years.

''The tactics last time worked very well for us. We were able to strangle them. We were able to take their boundaries away and make it difficult for them.

''A lot of the time we bowled at their strengths with strong fields in those areas. We did things differently last time and we'll look at doing that again if conditions suit,'' Ponting added.


Story first published: Saturday, September 20, 2008, 15:05 [IST]
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