Clark confident his Test career is not over
Stuart Clark is preparing to step into state captaincy knowing that his chances of continuing his Test career could depend on injuries hitting Australia's younger fast men. While Clark is in Perth getting ready to lead New South Wales for the first time, his international colleagues are in Brisbane ahead of Thursday's first Test against West Indies.
Clark was part of Australia's most recent Test team, the side that lost at The Oval and conceded the Ashes, although Doug Bollinger beat him into the 12-man squad for the Gabba. In his two Sheffield Shield games this season Clark has five wickets at 31.20 but at 34, his chances of further Test action have slimmed.
"I feel what has happened in the last couple of weeks in Shield cricket has really given me some heart that I can still do it - and do it well," Clark told the Sydney Morning Herald. "I think it's all pretty simple: take some wickets and hopefully a spot becomes available.
"There's probably going to be an injury. The guys that played in England at different times did a really good job and deserve their spots. Doug bowled well in India, they went down that path."
With Brett Lee's Test future uncertain, Clark's experience could be valuable to Australia if the younger fast men falter this summer. Clark hopes he can be part of the team that aims to win back the Ashes in a year's time.
"I think that is one of the benefits of me playing if I do play, I have played a lot of cricket over the years and I have played quite a few Test matches," he said. "I'm not sure if it will come down to that. It will come down to experience if I'm bowling well. If an opportunity arises, I think there is every chance I could get picked. Physically I'm fine, and mentally I know I still want to play for Australia. I definitely want to be part of the Ashes again next year after unfortunately losing them in England this year."
For the time being, he will have to content himself with the challenges of captaincy. In the absence of senior New South Wales players such as Simon Katich, Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke, all of whom are in the Test squad, Clark has been handed the opportunity to test his leadership skills against Western Australia.
He begins his captaincy career with an FR Cup game on Wednesday and will follow it with the Sheffield Shield match starting on Friday. The challenge for bowling captains is knowing how many overs to send down themselves, and Clark is confident he can make the right calls with some input from the coach Matthew Mott.
"I will do what I have always done - bowl when I need to," he said. "It's probably one of the harder things when you are captain, that there is so much else going on that you may neglect yourself. There are different times when it is between Matthew to work out when the best time to bowl is. I won't just leave myself standing out in the field."