Watson fights to keep first drop spot

Shane Watson has declared he wants make the No.3 Test slot his until the end of his career but knows he needs more runs, starting with the series in South Africa, for that to become a reality.

Watson is desperate to strengthen his claims to the vital slot, a position where he averages 42 in 10 matches since 2012, although there has been speculation recently selectors have earmarked the uncapped Alex Doolan as the long-term candidate for that role.

"There's no doubt I'd love to be a successful No.3 batter for Australia. I know I've got the game and technique to do it, it's just being able to score big runs consistently," Watson said.

"There's no doubt I'd love to stay at No.3 'til the end of my career but I'm not going to stay there if I'm not scoring runs. That's a major goal, if I stay at No.3, I'm contributing the runs the team needs in that position."

Watson, outscored only by Chris Rogers for Australia across the two Ashes series, is not happy with his performances in the first innings during the home series, where he averaged 20 and passed 50 once.

His numbers, however, were boosted by a century during the second innings of the Perth Test and an unbeaten 83 in the victorious run chase in Melbourne.

"My game could definitely continue to improve; for me not scoring runs in the first couple of Test matches was very disappointing," Watson said.

"The main thing I really want to continue to improve on is my first-innings runs.

"Melbourne certainly gave me a bit of confidence, to help close out that Test match, but first innings runs are the most important to set up a game.

"That's something I know I need to get better at."

On the eve of Australia's departure for South Africa, the former Test vice-captain has identified the upcoming series against the Proteas as the litmus test for his game and the Australian team.

"It certainly is the ultimate challenge - a top-order batsman taking on one of the world's best attacks - it's something you want to challenge yourself against the best team and the best players in the world," Watson said.

"This will be the ultimate challenge, and I'm really looking forward to it. It is the ultimate test of where my game's at. Hopefully I can perform really well and be able to help the team achieve the success that we want."

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