Chennai: Australian all-rounder Shane Watson says they will take a cue from the way England successfully countered the Indian spinners this winter, in the upcoming four-match Test series starting here on Friday. "England certainly showed that and the guys who got big runs made it easier for the others. One thing in India is that it's hard to start your innings, so if you can get a start, it's important to go on and get those really big scores like England did," Watson said.
"Then you have plenty of runs to play with throughout the Test. There's no doubt that the Indian spinners are very highly skilled, especially in these conditions. So it will be a big challenge for us. "But what has been shown in the past by a number of international teams coming here is that if individuals in the team are at their best, then you can have success here, so there's no reason why we can't," Watson added.
The 31-year-old said that he along with skipper Michael Clarke will have to shoulder the bulk of responsibility in the absence of recently-retired Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey.
"I've played a lot of cricket here and met with a lot of success too. We've got quite a young group here, so I guess I am one of the people who would help out as much as I can so we play as well as we can in these conditions, I suppose," Watson said at a media session here on Tuesday.
"Now, with Mike Hussey and Ricky Ponting not here, Michael Clarke and me are the senior players, we've played the most cricket here. We'll certainly help out the young guys who haven't had an opportunity to play out here before. "It's very different to playing in Australia in terms of finding a game plan that will give us the best chance of having success here," he added. He said the IPL has played a big role in his career.
"The IPL has played a huge role... it's been a huge catalyst to my improvement as a cricketer, especially because I was not in the Australian team at that stage. It gave me the opportunity to play a world-class competition even though I was not playing for Australia." Watson confirmed that he will bat at number 4 if all goes well. "If everyone is fit, then yes (No. 4), that's the way the selection is likely to go with Michael and Mickey figuring it out. Considering everything that's happened over the last 12 months, especially, I can see why they might want to go that way.
"In the end, I've got as much experience batting in these conditions whether in the middle-order or at the top of the order, so Michael and I will play a very important part in this series in terms of batting in that middle-order because it can be difficult." Asked if the thought of his pregnant wife distracts him Watson said, "Uhhh... possibly, but nothing has been confirmed yet. If she has the baby early, then there will be less chance of me seeing the birth."
Watson also spoke of the void created by the retirements of legends like Rahul Dravid and Ponting. "(The two teams) are in a similar place. I know what Ponting and Hussey gave to the Australian team and you can't replace that. With the young guys trying to find their feet, they will be able to become good players but the guys they are replacing... to replace that kind of experience is impossible.
"It's exactly the same with the Indian team as well. The quality of Rahul Dravid, I've been playing with him in Rajasthan, he will be sorely missed. The way he carries himself as a world-class player and how he goes about his life is amazing. "It's for everyone to learn from. He's a very humble man. And India will miss that alone, forget the quality of player he has been for such a long period of time."
Watson said he will start bowling by the latter part of IPL 6. "At the latter part of the IPL, I will be bowling. The plan, for the last three months since I injured myself, has been to slowly bring my bowling workload back up to be able to bowl a few overs during the Champions Trophy and then in the Ashes.
Clarke said he is eager to respond to his detractors. "A lot has been said over the last six months over whether I warrant a position in the side as a batsman if I am not bowling and that's what I am doing at this moment in time. "So I am trying to prove to the selectors and other people that I am one of the top six batsmen in Australia and that I can get picked as a batsman as I have a number of times in the past and that my bowling is just a bonus thing for the team."