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Watson ready for Ashes challenge

Shane Watson spoke of his excitement at the prospect of facing England's new-ball attack after playing himself into form with a rapid 90 on the second day of Australia's tour match with Somerset at Taunton.

Having been confirmed as opener for the Investec Ashes series by new coach Darren Lehmann, Watson celebrated by striking 20 fours in his 94-ball knock to help his side to 266 for four in reply to Somerset's 320.

At the end of a rain-shortened day, Watson made it clear he was delighted with Lehmann's decision and that he is ready for the tasks that await him when the first Ashes Test starts at Trent Bridge on July 10.

The opener said: "The English quicks are as good as there are in the world at the moment and have been for the last few years.

"It is the ultimate challenge to take on the best bowlers with a brand new ball in what sometimes will be bowler-friendly conditions.

"If I can't get up for that, there is no point in playing."

He continued: "Taking on the quicks with a brand new ball is something I never knew I would enjoy until the last Ashes series here in 2009.

"Ricky Ponting gave me the opportunity through the middle of that series and it's something I did and do love.

"I feel my game and my mentality is now suited to opening the batting."

Watson is also positive about Australia's chances of upsetting the odds and believes his team-mates can spring a few surprises.

"I am extremely excited about our prospects for the Ashes," he said. "We are obviously the underdogs coming into the series and we haven't played well, especially in India a few months ago.

"We certainly have a lot to prove, but we have the talent and quality of players around our group to be able to put in a lot of good days of Test cricket.

"We know we are going to have to be at our very best consistently throughout the series to have the success we want.”

He added: "England have a very good side, which has been the case for quite a while now. They have a lot of stability throughout their ranks and have grown as a team together.

"It's going to be a massive challenge for us and we are all very excited about it."

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