Sydney, Nov.17 : Australian all-rounder Shane Watson could be given first preference ahead of Andrew Symonds in the first Test against New Zealand to be played later this week at the Gabba in Brisbane, because of the inclement weather prevailing in that region.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Watson and Symonds are competing for the sole all-rounder's berth in the Australian XI.
There is a view within the team management that the prospect of rain and humidity in Brisbane might suit Watson's bowling strengths.
The 27-year-old's pace and swing in India impressed many astute judges and a juicy Gabba wicket, coupled with heavy overhead conditions, could prove irresistible to a selection panel desperate to shore up Australia's bowling stocks.
Australian coach Tim Nielsen confirmed conditions would play a major role in determining the final make-up of the Australian side for the Test, beginning on Thursday.
"It looks like there'll be rain around all week, so that will be a big factor," Nielsen said. "Roy has always been picked as a batting all-rounder, and he also brings to the table some handy medium pace and spin. Watto just had a good series in India with the ball, and he can also bat up the order. Both of them bring a great balance to our squad. I'm not sure which way we'll go, but conditions will play a big part in our final decision."
Australia's chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, last week stated his preference for Australia to play a specialist spinner, Jason Krejza, at the Gabba, all but ensuring the final spot will be decided between Watson and Symonds.
Fast bowlers Brett Lee and Stuart Clark are also likely to be declared fit to play the first Test, and Nielsen is counting on both to benefit from the hard, bouncy conditions at the Gabba.
Michael Clarke has recovered from a virus contracted in India, and is expected to train with the Australians today.
Story first published: Monday, November 17, 2008, 13:15 [IST]
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