Michael Clarke has backed Shane Watson (above) to bat at No 3 in the Test series against South Africa © Getty Images


Sydney: Jan 30, 2014


Australian captain Michael Clarke has backed all-rounder and his former deputy Shane Watson to keep his No 3 spot for the Test series against South Africa and also prove his true mettle.


Watson was Australia’s second-highest run-scorer across the back-to-back Ashes series after Chris Rogers, but his Test average is a modest 36 as compared to South Africa’s No 3 Hashim Amla, who averages over 51.


According to, Alex Doolan and Shaun Marsh have both been earmarked for the crucial role after their inclusion in the squad, leaving Watson to come in at six and take more responsibility with the ball. Clarke is also including Watson to bat at No 3 as he is a senior player and relishes taking ”extra responsibility”.


Stating that it is good for the team that has a number of available options for the No 3 slot, Clarke also said that they will assess a suitable candidate at the tour game in Potchefstroom, adding that he is backing Watson to have a fantastic series and lead by example despite failing to make lots of runs during the Ashes.


Marsh is still under an injury cloud and has remained in Australia for further treatment on a minor calf strain, while Jackson Bird has also been left behind to prove his fitness after he jarred his back playing in the Big Bash League, the report added.