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June 10, 2011
Michael Clarke, the Australian captain, has said he is excited to see young players getting central contracts. He also said he could understand Simon Katich's disappointment at being cut from the 25-player list, a controversial development Clarke said he had no part in whatsoever.
"He's [Katich] been a great player for a long time, not just for NSW but for Australia," Clarke told the Daily Telegraph. "He's come back before and I have no doubt, if he continues to do what he's been doing, you never know what can happen in this great game.
"When you become captain you don't become a selector so I had absolutely nothing to do with that [Katich's axing]. That's a selector's job. I sent Simon a text once I found out. Obviously I feel his disappointment."
Clarke, however, was happy with the young talent in Australia's centrally contracted players, especially the fast bowlers. "It's great to see some young guys getting the opportunity," he said. "Pat Cummins, I think it's fantastic for him. I know he's really excited, along with James Pattinson. I think it's about a mixture of experience and youth."
Clarke's first Test assignment as full-time captain is a tour to Sri Lanka, which will be followed by a trip to South Africa and a home series against India. He hopes to earn the respect of his charges through performance. "For me its about performing on the field and hopefully I'll earn their respect," he said. "I've shown throughout my career that I have always put representing my state and country first and foremost. I love what I do."
To earn that respect, though, Clarke will have to overcome a personal challenge. He averaged 56 at No. 5 and nearly 50 at No, 6, positions at where he's batted for most of his 69-Test career. He's moved to No. 4 though, with Michael Hussey dropping down the order, where he averages only 20 in 24 innings.
"It's a position I want to bat in. I love batting at four," Clarke said. "I love being closer to the new ball because you get the chance to get in earlier and set yourself to bat for a long time. What those numbers say to me is that I've got a lot of work to do."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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