Shane Watson continued his rich vein of form in the build up to the Ashes with a free-flowing 109 off 111 balls against Worcestershire on Tuesday. Celebrating his return to the Aussie opening slot, this innings was a follow up after an equally impressive 90 off 94 balls against Somerset in the first warm-up.
What though was more satisfying for a fan and the team management was the innings of 75 by 35-year-old Chris Rogers, Watson's opening partner not just for this game but also for the first Ashes Test in Nottingham. Cricket Australia drafted in the experienced batsman who has just one Test match to his name -- against India back in 2008 at Perth.
The pair added 170 in 34.4 overs to raise Australian spirits before the much anticipated battle with England from July 10. Australians were 340/4 at stumps after Day 1.
Although it is still very early days in the Watson-Rogers partnership, but Watson was all praise for his senior partner and likened his current pairing to the one he shared with Simon Katich during 2008-10. Watson and Katich produced 1529 runs in 29 innings at 52.72.
"My combination with Simon Katich in the past was maybe along similar sort of lines," Watson said. "It was really nice to be able to get a good partnership going the first time we got a chance to bat together. It's great to bat with Chris. He's certainly a very experienced and knowledgeable cricketer. He's able to sum up conditions very well."
"I thought he gave me a few really good pointers out there, especially early on. He understands the English conditions even better than I do. We have started well and hopefully we can continue this opening combination for quite a while," Watson said about Rogers, who plays for Middlesex.
That Watson hasn't hit a first-class ton since his century against India at Mohali in 2010, does not worry him too much. In fact, the swashbuckling opener feels that he is "in a great place" batting-wise.
"Batting-wise, it's as good as I've felt at this point in time. Even though I haven't played as well in Test matches for the past six months. I've felt like the things I've been working on with my batting have been coming together. I just hadn't been able to put them into practice especially in the Test matches. Physically good to have a break from bowling and ensure that I go full fit into the first Test," Watson said.