Shane Watson has conceded he doesn't know where he will fit back in to Australia's Test side after missing all six matches of the home summer due to injury. Watson was on Monday named Australia's best ODI and Twenty20 international player of the past year at Allan Border Medal night in Melbourne, a day after he made his return to the national side.
He captained Australia to a one-day victory over India on Sunday in Sydney, in the absence of the injured skipper Michael Clarke, and opened the batting with David Warner. It was Watson's first game for Australia in more than three months after hamstring and calf problems sidelined him for the Tests against New Zealand and India.
In the meantime, Warner established himself as a Test opener and Ed Cowan proved a solid companion at the top of the order. Warner, Watson and Cowan are all likely to be part of the Test squad that will tour the West Indies in April but it is not clear whether Watson will resume in the opening position or will slot in down the order, which would allow him to take more of a role with the ball.
"I'm not exactly sure to be honest," Watson said. "I've been watching from afar how impressive this summer has been. I want to be a part of that, wherever that is. I've loved opening the batting, there's no doubt about that. But I want to be a part of it because it's been very exciting to watch from afar and I really want to play a big role in that, whatever role that is."
One possibility is that Watson could move in to the No.3 spot that is almost certain to be vacated by the out-of-form Shaun Marsh, which would allow Warner and Cowan to remain the opening combination. Whatever the case, Clarke is excited at the prospect of regaining his vice-captain, and a man who will strengthen a side that won five of its six home Tests this season.
"I can't wait to have him back," Clarke said after winning the Allan Border Medal and sharing the spoils of the evening with Watson. "It's great to see him back playing one-day cricket. I have absolutely no doubt that he'll walk straight back into our Test team. He's been a great player for a long time but his performances over the last three years have been very consistent. It's no surprise to me that he sits here again with another two awards.
"If we keep him on the park he'll be sitting here with a few more next year as well because he's an amazing talent. He's one of the few players these days who can perform in all three forms of the game with the bat, with the ball, pretty good in the field as well. He makes a big difference to our team. We've played some really good cricket throughout this summer to be able to win this most recent Test series without him. But as captain of the team it always makes life easier when you've got Watto in your team."
Watson's two awards were all the more impressive given that he has missed so much cricket recently. But despite missing the first three quarters of the Commonwealth Bank Series, he was a close second to Clarke on Australia's ODI run tally during the voting period and continued his individual success having won the Allan Border Medal in 2010 and 2011.
"A couple of months ago I was struggling physically with my body to be able to even get on the park," Watson said. "To even think I was going to come back and have a game like we did last night and then come tonight and get a couple of awards, it's nice to think I must have performed quite well in the first part of the year because I haven't played much recently."