All-rounder Watson has competition in Symonds

Published: Tuesday, December 31, 2002, 21:02 [IST]
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Brisbane: Shane Watson was Australia's top all-rounder leading into the World Cup, but the chief of selectors wants Andrew Symonds to put the pressure on him for his place. English-born Symonds and Shane Watson were named on Tuesday in Australia's 15-man World Cup squad for the contentious all-rounder position ahead of Ian Harvey and Greg Blewett.

Trevor Hohns, chairman of the national selection panel, said 21-year-old Watson was Australia's leading all-rounder, but said the onus was on Symonds to maintain competition for places in the team. "Watson has been our number one all-rounder for the past 12 months, but it is up to Andrew Symonds to put a little bit of pressure on him - it's also up to Shane Watson to continue to perform," Hohns said on Tuesday.

While admitting the selection of Symonds could be a gamble based on his poor batting form, Hohns said selectors believed the big Queenslander was a potential match- winner. "Andrew's played a fair bit of One-day cricket for Australia now and we see him as offering the entire package," Hohns said. "He can bowl off spin, he can bowl medium pace, he's a wonderful fieldsman and potentially he's a match-winning batsman." Symonds was stunned to hear he got into the final squad when informed on Tuesday.

"I'm numb, to be honest with you," Symonds said. "I'm delighted, but by the same time when we were told in the group, geez, it's hard on a lot of blokes. "Only being able to take 15 and Australian cricket's got so much to offer, I really do feel for other blokes." The last of Symonds' 49 Limited Overs matches for Australia was against Kenya in September, as a replacement for an injured Darren Lehmann.

Hohns said Shane Warne, who is recovering from a dislocated shoulder, would be replaced in the squad if he was not fully fit by the time the team left for Johannesburg on January 30. "Shane Warne's situation is a little bit different," Hohns said. "If he doesn't happen to come up for the start of the World Cup or prior to the team leaving, it is my understanding that we can replace him from outside of the (preliminary squad of) 30, or with anybody we like."

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