SHANE WATSON expects his impending move to No.4 in the batting line-up to succeed Ricky Ponting in the Test team will allow him to have a bigger impact with his bowling.
Watson, the Test vice-captain, confirmed on Wednesday that with Ponting's retirement he would move down the order from three to four with the recalled Phillip Hughes, typically an opener, to bat at first drop, starting against Sri Lanka in Hobart on Friday.
"I really am seeing it as a big positive; one, for my batting side of things, but also for my bowling, to hopefully be able to really contribute that little bit more with the ball because I feel like I have like I have got a bit more to contribute with the ball," the fast-bowling all-rounder said.
"Batting at number four gives Michael a few more options to be able to bowl [me] towards the latter stages of an opposition's batting innings and not have to worry about me being as fresh as I can going into our batting innings [as he would have to] if I'm opening or batting number three."
Watson's stint as opener was characterised by his consistent success against the new ball only to squander his good starts against the older ball. The 31-year-old said he did not expect to have to make many changes to his batting when facing an older ball immediately.
"In theory that should've have really happened, because the ball's older and not moving as much, so I know that's more a mental side of things to be able to continue to bat for long periods of time and hold that intensity.
"It has been my biggest downfall, in Test cricket especially, that once I've done all the hard work to be able to sustain my intensity at the crease to be able to get through those periods.
"I know where I've been falling down and I'm certainly doing everything I can to hope that doesn't occur."
Watson said he was bracing himself to face spin much earlier in his innings, and had been training accordingly to be ready for that prospect.
"I do know I'm going to be facing spin a lot more coming in and batting number four. That's something that I've been conscious of really working on, having a better game-plan to be able to go in facing spin straight up.
"Normally, when you're opening you've got a chance to get into your innings before the spin comes on."
Watson also said he expected Australia would retain the general composition of its bowling attack, with off-spinner Nathan Lyon to retain his spot despite the expected pace-friendly conditions at Bellerive Oval and one of the seamers to miss out, with him providing the fourth pace option for Clarke.
"I think as Michael and the selectors have shown through the first three Test matches that they are very keen to continue to play a spinner. There's no doubt that even in the second Test . . . Nathan Lyon was, for me, the big difference in both sides with the quality of his spin. Unfortunately he didn't have any rough [on the pitch created] from left-armers, which we're now going to be having at least one of I think. It's going to provide a lot more rough for him to be able to play his part, especially in the latter part of the game," he said.
"Michael has always used spin very, very well as a captain so I've got no doubt he will continue to stay with three quicks and a spinner, and hopefully be able to get a few more overs out of me."
No.6 batsman Mike Hussey missed Australia's training session on Wednesday due to a head cold but Australian team officials are very confident he will be available to train on Thursday, in the squad's last session before the match.