Merry Xmas Watto: you’ll bat and bowl

Shane Watson will not be overburdened during the Boxing Day Test, with Steve Smith to give the allrounder a decent break between batting and bowling.

Mitch Marsh’s hamstring injury at the Gabba meant Watson sent down 27.4 overs in the second Test against India.

It was the most Watson has bowled in a Test for over two years.

Smith labels Indians ‘whingers’
Debutant Burns to bat at number six
• Watson and Warner to play on

Marsh remains sidelined, meaning Watson will have to do a similar job with the ball at the MCG during the third Test.

Debutant Joe Burns will bat at No.6, with stand-in skipper Smith resisting calls to demote Watson down the order to give him a longer break after trundling.

“I think so (Watson is still suited to batting at first drop). I’ve just got to manage him right,” Smith said on Christmas Day.

“I’ve got to make sure he hasn’t bowled too many overs at the end there so he’s fresh when he gets out there to bat.

“That’s the most important thing to me. I certainly think he’s a top-three batsman.”

Watson was rattled by a bouncer that struck his helmet on Tuesday, but Smith confirmed the 33-year-old was mentally and physically right to play in Melbourne.

“He was a little bit shaken up with the hit the other day but he trained well yesterday and he’s going well so I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Smith said.

The hit was a confronting moment for the entire squad, still grieving the shock death of Phillip Hughes.

“I think Hughesy is still in the back of our minds a little bit,” Smith said.

“I know every time I go out and bat, every time I get a 50 or 100 I’m looking up to the sky saying ‘Thanks for that, Phil, thanks for being out there with me’.”

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