‘All rounder’ Watson creates flexibility at Australian selection table: Hilditch

August 6th, 2010 - 4:06 pm ICT by ANI  

Sydney, Aug 6(ANI): Australian chief selector Andrew Hilditch insists that the team can afford to play spinners Nathan Hauritz and Steven Smith together in Test matches, due to the flexibility that all-rounder Shane Watson creates at the selection table.

Smith is being seen as the future of Australian cricket in the wake of his performance in the Test series against Pakistan, where he was selected due to Hauritz’s absence because of an injury.

Hilditch believes that Watson’s emergence as an opening batsman last year and a pace bowler of impact in the Pakistan series, with 11 wickets at 10.63, provides the option to selectors and captain Ricky Ponting to have the 21-year-old Smith for the no. six spot.

“We’ve certainly always been moving to a model where we could, if we wanted to, which is why we’ve always been very keen to get a medium pace bowler such as Watson in our top six,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Hilditch, as saying.

“That’s been something we’ve always wanted to achieve. At the moment we’re traditionally using that as a quick option with one spinner and some spin from Marcus North.”

“The advantage of Watson is, as he showed in England, he’s certainly good enough to be a third quick if we wanted to play two spinners,” he added.

Hilditch however believes that there is scope for improvement before Smith plays as a specialist batsman and front-line spinner.

“I think he can play in the top six, but I think he’s also learning his cricket and he’s got a long way (to go), he’s got to improve a lot in batting and bowling,” Hilditch said.

“The exciting thing is he has proved he can be a really dynamic player for Australia … and we’re certainly going to try to invest as much time in him to make sure he fulfils that potential,” he added.

Earlier, Former Australian skipper Greg Chappell had said that Smith has the talent needed to help Australia regain the Ashes.

“He is part of the Ashes plans in my view. In Australia, through the history of cricket, good wrist-spin bowling has been very successful and I think he has the capabilities to do that, and it gives you the opportunity to play two spinners,” Chappell had said.

“Remember that Richie Benaud played for three or four years as a batsman predominantly, and bowled the odd over here or there. I can see Steve Smith doing that in the early days of his career,” Chappell added.

Chappell had worked with Smith at Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence last winter, and he has encouraged the all-rounder to develop all facets of his game rather than concentrate on one or the other. (ANI)

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