Watson ready to pick up the slack in attack

DAYS after being unfit to roll his arm over at all, Shane Watson is readying himself to take up the slack and contribute even more with the ball than he usually would to assist tired Australian pacemen Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus.

An injury scratching for the first two Tests against South Africa, the all-rounder and vice-captain all of sudden is a bowling asset, particularly if Australia decides to enter the third and final Test at the WACA Ground, starting on Friday, with only three fast bowlers.

Watson, missing with a calf strain in Brisbane and Adelaide, returned to bowling in the training nets during the second Test and sent down six overs on Tuesday before flying to Perth.

Given the physical ordeals Siddle, in particular, and Hilfenhaus put themselves through in the drawn Adelaide Test, Watson is prepared to be more than simply a support act if the pair are retained for Perth.

''I understand that could be a possibility and at the moment that's the biggest challenge for Ben and Peter … to freshen up as quick as they can,'' Watson said on Wednesday.

''I do understand there will be a possibility of me bowling as many overs as I need to to be able to help the team hopefully win, but in the end my body is in the condition to be able to do it. I'm certainly fresh … compared to some of the other guys … so my body should be right.

''I'm certainly going to be up to bowling as many overs as [captain] Michael [Clarke] wants, and probably the normal sort of workload that I bowl in a Test match.''

Barring any last-minute mishaps, the series decider - which doubles as an unofficial world championship play-off, with the winner walking away as the world No. 1 Test-playing nation - will be Watson's first Test in Australia since the forgettable Ashes of 2010-11.

A hamstring tear, then a more serious calf injury, put a line through him for the entire summer against New Zealand and India. His latest setback has not proved as problematic, yet the 31-year-old has still been the subject of calls for him to give bowling away.

But Watson is not straying from his long-term stance on the subject. ''Not unless something goes very horribly wrong, I wouldn't want to give up on bowling,'' he said.

''[It's] one part I love of the game. I know it puts more pressure on my body to be able to play consistently, but it's something I just love so much and have loved doing since I was … a young kid.

''The ultimate enjoyment for me is to play as an all-rounder. Mentally, the injury setbacks are frustrating at times, but it doesn't take away the love of being able to contribute with bat and ball.''

Watson insists there is no relationship between his bowling output and where he lines up in the batting order. The additional rest time since his move from opener has been beneficial, he argues.

''The amount of overs compared to where I bat, I don't think they have a correlation at all,'' he said. ''In the end, when I was opening [the batting], the amount of overs I bowl was going to be similar to me batting at three anyway … more so, batting at No. 3 gives me a bit more opportunity to be able to freshen up mentally or physically.''

This story Watson ready to pick up the slack in attack first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.