THE credibility of the tri-series took another hit yesterday when John Buchanan admitted an underdone Shane Watson played in the finals to build match fitness for next month's World Cup. Watson was rushed into the squad for the first final on Friday despite having bowled only 15 overs in club cricket since breaking down before the opening Ashes Test in November. The all rounder returned figures of 0-51 off eight overs in Melbourne and 0-46 off eight in Sydney, while he managed scores of nine and 37 batting at No.7. Although disappointed by the "inconsistent" performances of his team in its shock losses to England, Australia coach Buchanan said his focus remained on the Caribbean, where he anticipates Watson playing a crucial role in Australia's bid to win an unprecedented third straight World Cup. "Certainly he hasn't got the bowling under his belt and ... the general bowling fitness, but it was important to inject him into the tournament," Buchanan said. "Not that we've finalised the World Cup squad but I would find it very hard to think he won't be picked in that side, because we have been talking about him for some period of time. He bowled exceptionally well in the (Champions) Trophy and, in the lead-up to that, also batted very well. "He's on his way back and the quicker we can give him game time the better. Shane is seen to be one of the key players in our one-day side, I imagine the selectors would always like to have him back in the side as quickly as they could." The revelation is likely to heighten calls for a revamp of the tri-series format, which many believe has grown tired over the past decade. It also highlights the growing trend of world cricketing bodies and players placing such importance on the World Cup that international games played inbetween are losing relevance. Rugby is trying to deal with a similar problem, with Super 14 having to cope with the farcical situation of seeing 22 New Zealand players declared unavailable for the first half of the season. In a similar vein, Australia will rest skipper Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist for the upcoming Chappell-Hadlee Trophy clashes against New Zealand, with Watson keen to cash in on the absence of the key pair. Long earmarked as an answer to England star Andrew Flintoff, Watson has received every assistance from selectors and officials and will get a chance to find form against the Black Caps, joining fellow Queenslander Matthew Hayden to open in all three matches, with Buchanan saying he would also be asked to do plenty of bowling. Accepting he is likely to be criticised for his tactics, Buchanan said he was simply dealing with reality. "There is a bigger picture in mind for me," he said. "All teams ... have the World Cup in mind. We saw that through this series, with NZ introducing players as and when they believed they were ready to play, and not bringing them out for the (whole) tournament. "England did the same thing and we are in the same boat. We are trying to ensure that by the time we leave for the World Cup everyone is as fit as they can be."