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Watson revels in opening role

Shane Watson believes he is back where he belongs at the top of the order after cracking a powerful century on day one of Australia's final Investec Ashes warm-up against Worcestershire.

Watson was utilised in the middle-order by the recently sacked Mickey Arthur, who favoured Ed Cowan and David Warner at the head, but new coach Darren Lehmann made it a priority to restore the 32-year-old to his favoured position.

Lehmann announced on the eve of the New Road encounter that Watson and Chris Rogers would open in the first Test against England and they repayed his faith with a first-wicket stand of 170 that helped Australia to 340 for four.

Watson was the dominant partner, hitting 109 from 111 balls including 14 fours and two sixes, while Rogers contributed a steady 75.

It was Watson's first hundred in first-class cricket since October 2010 and he left little doubt that opening the innings was a big factor.

"I feel my game is more suited to opening the batting; it's something I feel well-equipped to handle now," he said.

"It certainly brings out the best in my personality. It's what I enjoy.

"I always know the ball will do something, whether it's swing or seam. It gets my blood going and gets my mind switched on immediately.

"That combination really does bring the best out in me as a batsman. Hopefully I can do it for a longer period of time."

Fittingly, Watson made his first appearance as a Test opener during the 2009 Ashes series in England.

At the time he was seen more as a middle-order all-rounder and he admits he was surprised at how he took to the role.

"I would never have known I was built as an opening batsman, apart from in T20 or one-day cricket," he said.

"The longer version is obviously very different but it's a place I really like batting now.

"Since I opened here in 2009 it's certainly the place I've enjoyed batting the most."

There were also encouraging signs of a blossoming partnership between Watson and Rogers.

At 35, the latter is looking to build on a Test career that stalled on one cap in 2008, and Watson believes his extensive experience of county cricket is a vital asset for the coming series.

"It's been great to be able to bat with Chris; he's certainly a very experienced and knowledgable cricketer," Watson added.

"He kept me going and was able to sum up conditions. He gave me a few really good pointers out there, especially early on with him understanding English conditions even better than I do.

"It was nice to be able to get a good partnership going the first time we've had a chance to bat together."

Watson even saw shades of his first Australia opening partner in Rogers.

"My combination with Simon Katich in the past was probably along similar lines," he explained.

"I really enjoyed batting with him and it was nice to get the innings going."

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