CHENNAI: Australia may have unlocked a key Ashes weapon with the blooding of Moises Henriques in India, with Shane Watson also planning to return to full capacity as an all-rounder in England.
Plenty scoffed at the choice of the 26-year-old, who hails from the same Portuguese island as Cristiano Ronaldo, on first this tour and then in the XI for the first Test. However, with his educated 68 on debut, rendered even more valuable by the precarious position Australia were in before he and Michael Clarke (130) set them back on course, he will have convinced many of his merits already at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.
Australia were all out for 380 on the second day and owed much to that duo after being 5-153 on Friday.
Looking beyond this six-week, four-match series, though, the signs are even more encouraging. If Henriques can continue to shine in his maiden Test series, he will emerge as an important asset for the main event of the year in world cricket - back-to-back Ashes series in England and then Australia.
The reason is that with Watson ending his bowling hiatus, as he intends to do by the time Australia lob at Heathrow in June, Clarke's side could enjoy the benefit of not one, but two, classy seam-bowling all-rounders in the line-up.
Henriques could take the heat off the workload often required by the fragile body of Watson, providing a balance in the side that appeared dearly lacking when the first Australian players landed in Chennai a fortnight ago.
Watson, for one, believes two is not a crowd: there is enough room in the XI for both of them as all-rounders, and the vice-captain intends to further assist Henriques with his ascent to the peak arena.
''I can certainly help him in a number of different ways,'' Watson said. ''I can see an amazing amount of similarities between how Mo plays the game and how his career has evolved over the last six or seven years as well.
''The way he bowls is quite similar to the way I bowl. His length throughout the first tour games was outstanding. He looked as good as any bowler we had, because he knew the length to bowl.
''He'll play a big part with the ball in the series,'' Watson said. ''His batting has improved a massive amount and he's had quite a bit of success this summer.''
Like the more seasoned all-rounder, the St George product has had serious injury setbacks along the way, and troughs in form, but has put them behind him for a breakout season.
''It's really exciting,'' Watson said. ''It's great to see a younger guy coming through who has similar traits to how I play and I'm going to help out in any way I can.
''Moises is a very observant guy and he asks a lot of questions as well. His game is very simple. I try to make my game as simple as I can as well. Now the way his game is at, there's not too many things that can really go wrong.''
Henriques has made little secret of the fact he sees Watson of something of a mentor. ''I don't have to look any further than the bloke I have in my dressing room in Shane Watson - he has gone through some similar injury woes early on in his career,'' he said.
''He's had hamstring problems like I have and we both are a similar weight and size. Shane is someone I not so much model myself around but I certainly look up to him in terms of rehabilitation and recovery and things like that. The way he goes about his business is what I want to emulate.''
In Chennai on Saturday, Clarke was dismissed half an hour before lunch for 130, but not before surpassing Greg Chappell's Test aggregate of 7110 runs, having gone beyond Sir Don Bradman's career total a day earlier. It was also the highest score by an Australian captain in India.
Clarke's latest hundred received further handy support from a patient Peter Siddle (19) before he was snapped up at long-off by Bhuvneshwar Kumar trying to loft Ravindra Jadeja down the ground.