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Clarke not relying on form alone



Clarke not relying on form alone

Australian skipper Michael Clarke said he cannot afford to rest on his laurels and let his batting hot streak take care of business in the second Test against South Africa in Adelaide starting on Thursday.

Clarke has a triple-century and two double-tons this calendar year at an astounding average of 115.66, bookended by an unbeaten 329 in the New Year’s Test in Melbourne and last week’s 259 not out in Brisbane.

But he said on Wednesday that he had never entertained the thought of leaving his bat in his kit bag at training in favour of riding out the purple patch in the middle.

“I learnt that the hard way, unfortunately a few years ago when I got dropped, that you’ve got to work your backside off with preparation,” he told Grandstand.

“You’ve got to give yourself every chance to score runs, every single game, and my preparation has been no different this time than it was for Brisbane, as it was for last summer.

“I’m training as hard as I can and my goal’s exactly the same.

“I walk out, I start afresh, I’m on zero when I walk out to bat throughout this Test match and I want to help Australia win this Test.”

It was widely tipped that Clarke would change up his bowling attack, leaving out Ben Hilfenhaus in exchange for Blues quick Mitchell Starc, before he named his team on Wednesday.

Selectors kept the Brisbane line-up intact, but the skipper admitted he had to make some difficult calls.

“Tough decisions, Mitchell Starc has been performing really well so it was hard to leave him out,” Clarke said.

“I think the attack we took into Brisbane got better throughout the Test match and I think that attack had a lot of success throughout the summer last summer.

“We’re confident we’ve gone with the right attack to take 20 wickets.”

The series-opening five-day draw on an uncharacteristically slow Gabba wicket raised questions about the potency of Australia’s pace attack, but Clarke defended his quicks going into Adelaide.

“I think as a team we can take a lot of confidence,” he said.

“We managed to get 14 of the South Africans out and they managed to get five of us out.

“Credit needs to go to our bowlers, the way they come back, and also a few of the batters who put their hands up.

“Ed Cowan scoring his first century under pressure as well, there was a lot of talk about Ed not being the right guy to open the batting for Australia. I think he’s certainly put an end to that.

“Michael Hussey continues his form and it was nice to see a piece of Matthew Wade as well.

“The guys in the change-room know how much talent he’s got but it was nice for him to get out there in his first Test in Australia and show the Australia public he’s going to grab his opportunity in both hands.”

The notable absence from the hosts’ line-up for the second Test was vice-captain Shane Watson, who is recovering from a calf strain but was not quite ready to roll against South Africa.

“He’s not far away, he’s probably a few days short at this stage unfortunately,” Clarke said.

“We’d love to see Watto back in the team – he’s our vice-captain, he’s a huge part of our team both with bat and ball and he’s had a lot of success for Australia in all three forms of the game.”

Before a ball has even been bowled in Adelaide, the Australian captain was looking ahead to the third Test in Perth on Friday week.

“We’re going to do everything we can over the next eight days leading up to Perth to give [Watson] every chance to be right for the third Test,” he said.



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