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30-Aug-2009 04:16:00 GMT
Natwest Series, 2009

Shah Ready to be Play Anchor Roll Against Australia

Manchester: Owais Shah is looking forward to being one of England's 'go-to' batsmen in their upcoming Twenty20 clashes and One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against Australia.

The 30-year-old Middlesex batsman has appeared in 60 ODIS and 16 Twenty20s yet has played just six Tests despite making 88 on debut against India in Mumbai three years ago.

Shah had a frustrating time on the sidelines during England's 2-1 Ashes series win over Australia concluded this month, which saw South Africa born Jonathan Trott make a century on his England debut in the deciding fifth Test at the Oval.

But with Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff out injured from the two Twenty20s and seven ODIs against Australia, Shah is keen to take centre stage.

"If you do impress then you get touted around. It might not be Test cricket but it's definitely a springboard," he told reporters at Old Trafford here on Saturday, where the two Twenty20 clashes take place on Sunday and Tuesday.

"I want to play Test cricket and it's my ultimate ambition."

Shah, who in his ODI career has scored 1,529 runs at 31.20 with a best of 107 not out, has no problems with being regarded as a senior batsman in an England side now shorn of several senior names, with regular captain and county colleague Andrew Strauss ruling himself out of Twenty20 duty.

"I like to feel that I am in that mindset regardless of KP and Fred (Flintoff)," Shah, who also took three wickets for 16 runs with his off-breaks in England's tense three-run ODI win over Ireland in Belfast on Thursday, said.

He added: "I like to regard myself as the main batsman and that comes from Middlesex where I love that responsibility. I play my best when I have responsibility on my shoulders."

Shah's last crack at Test cricket saw him given three games during England's series loss this year in the Caribbean.

He made 57 before being run out in Antigua. But from there on in his form fell away although it still rankles with Shah that the selectors didn't show the same faith in him as they have done with other players in the past.

"I didn't get enough of a run," he insisted. "I got three Tests and I did well in the first but then it didn't go too well in the next two and I didn't think two bad tests was enough of a run."

While Shah's off-spin could be useful support to Adil Rashid's leg-breaks on Sunday, Australia - much criticised for not playing a specialist spinner at the Oval - could field four slow bowlers.

Nathan Hauritz, Cameron White, Adam Voges and David Hussey, who scored a century, all bowled in Australia's 189-run win over Scotland in Edinburgh on Friday, a match where stand-in captain Michael Clarke, himself an occasional spinner, chose not to bring himself into the attack.

Australia, unlike hosts England, didn't qualify for the second round of June's World Twenty20 and Hussey said: "I think spin plays a massive part in Twenty20 cricket, so hopefully we can all do a job for Australia."

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