Shane Watson seems to have found a sweet-spot and it is right up at the top of the innings. The destructive batsman hit 90 off 94 deliveries against Somerset in a warm-up match in the run-up to the Ashes - a clear message from him that new coach Darren Lehmann's faith isn't misplaced.
Replying to Somerset's 320 in a tour match, Watson lost partner Ed Cowan (3) in the second over. This hardly had any impact on the 32-year-old as his knock was punctuated with 20 boundaries.
While he looked good to reach the three-figure mark, Watson's innings was brought to an end by 19-year-old pacer Jamie Overton. The day ended early with rain halting play and Australia in a comfortably placed position at 266/4.
It is this comfort that Lehmann - replacing Mickey Arthur as head coach - would seek from Watson. He had previously said that he was sure the opening spot was the best place for Watson and that from it, both he and the team can mutually benefit. "Shane, yeah, he'll be opening for us," Lehmann had said. "That's where we want him to bat and he's done really well for us there and we're quite keen for him to open and to have a big part in the Ashes and obviously make a lot of runs for us and start the innings up well." (Read full report here)
Watson has not had a stable place in Australia's batting order for some time now. While the batsman himself said before the tour of India that opening is where he is most at ease, a jittery Australian side has made several experiments.
His innings - one of confidence, talent and skill - against Somerset though would be a strong signal that in a highly awaited and much followed rivalry like the Ashes, Watson has the experience to provide a solid foundation to his team. (Also read: Ponting backs Lehmann to instill confidence in Aus team)