Michael Clarke hints at all-pace attack for Perth Test against India

Michael Clarke said he is extremely pleased with his performance in the second Test against India Getty Images

By Ashish Shukla

Sydney: Jan 6, 2012

Ecstatic after taking an unbeatable 2-0 lead over India, Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke on Friday said he might field an all-pace attack in the third Test to bounce the visitors out of the series at the dreaded Perth track.

Australia have beaten India by 122 runs and an innings and 68 runs in the first two Tests to go 2-0 up in the four-match series.

Clarke was already looking forward to the third Test to be played at what is considered the world’s fastest pitch — the WACA ground in Perth.

“We need to assess conditions. Four fast bowlers for Perth are possible. I hope the wicket is similar to last summer with pace and bounce and some sideways movement. If that’s the case that’s an option (to go with four fast bowlers) there,” Clarke said at the post-match press conference here.

“It’s not been a cakewalk. We have played hard fought Test cricket. It’s against a number two team with a lot of great players. We are really happy with the first two (Tests). There’s a long way to go. The series is still not won. We really want to win in Perth.”

Analysing the team’s performance so far, Clarke put it down to the pressure of dot balls and maidens which is causing the Indian batsmen to fail in the present series.

“We are able to build pressure, we are bowling a lot of dots and maidens and that’s what is taking wickets. Against good players, no very good players, you have to build up pressure as an attack,” stated Clarke.

“We have wicket-taking bowlers. We can make breakthroughs. You can turn to anyone to take wicket and it makes life easier for me. Our execution was very good. I give credit to our bowlers. They set up the Test for us – to be able to take 10 wickets on really flat wickets here today, they deserve a lot of credit,” he said.

Clarke said one of the issues for his team heading into this Test was to take 20 wickets consistently — something which it had not been doing for sometime now.

“The most pleasing thing is for our bowlers to have success in different conditions. The first day it was supportive, in the second innings it was as flat as it gets.

“One of our issues has been to take 20 wickets. In the last few months, our attack has been able to take 20. It’s no coincidence we are winning Test matches.”

Ben Hilfenhaus, who now has two five-wicket hauls against the Indians in two Tests, is proving to be a good choice on the part of selectors for the series.

“He is a very good bowler who can swing and when the wicket gets flat, can bowl a lot of overs. He’s also got his pace back. He has been in and out but now he is back to his best and getting rewards like he did today,” Clarke said.

“I would love to see our bowling group, and not jus three bowlers, set our standards as high as they can and continue to improve,” he added.

One of the biggest reasons for Australia’s victory was Clarke himself, who made a record 329 not out at the SCG and the 30-year-old was expectedly pleased with how he performed.

“I can’t take the smile off my face. I want to sit in the change room for a few hours yet. Tonight is going to be very special for the team but also personally. It’s a wonderful feeling to score as many runs in one innings.

“It’s my first series as a full-time captain at home and public. I didn’t have a great summer last year. I was happy to contribute and put in a really good performance in this Test match,” he said.

Clarke said he has worked very hard at his batting in the last 12 months and staying away from the lucrative IPL and Twenty20 Big Bash has been a deliberate strategy in this direction.

“In sports, you need to perform. If you are not performing, you are out of team. In between my duty, there is enough time in a day to look after my own preparation”, he said.

“I have worked very hard in last 12 months on my game. In the nets, bowlers have bowled to me with brand new balls, I have looked to improve my technique, my defence, played spin on unprepared pitches before we travel to the sub-continent. It’s because I want to be the best player I can be,” Clarke said.

“To me, I made the right decision to leave Twenty20 and concentrate on ODI and Tests. I thought I had to improve my game and become player I possibly can be. The 4-5 days of work before I play a Test is paying off. In the last 12 months, my game is in better place.

“But at some stage, I might like to get into playing T20 cricket, IPL and Big Bash,” he added.

It wasn’t just with his triple century that Clarke contributed — there was also the all-important wicket of Sachin Tendulkar that helped his side win the game. Tendulkar yet again missed out on that elusive 100th international century but Clarke said it is not too far away.

“The new ball wasn’t too far. It was between me and Mike Hussey. It’s a very nice wicket to have. He is such a great player so it was a very handy wicket.

“Sachin is a great player. Everyone goes through such a period. He is still making a lot of runs. You never write off great players. We have utmost respect for him. We have to execute our skills against him or he will make big scores. It’s not over yet and there is a long way to go in this series,” he said.

Incidentally, 15 of Clarke’s 24 wickets have come against India.

“I wouldn’t ever say over-rated (Indian batting). It’s as strong as I’ve ever played against. They have some of the greats of the game, lot of Test runs, lot of Test centuries. You never write off great players.” (PTI)