Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth January 20, 2008

Clark says defeat will spur Australia



Nearly two years after his debut, Stuart Clark tasted his first Test defeat © Getty Images
 

A hurt Stuart Clark believes the Australians will use the pain of defeat as a spur for the series-deciding Test in Adelaide on Thursday. Clark experienced his first loss in whites with the national team in Perth on Saturday, which ended the winning run at 16.

After the game the players spoke about the streak and a few of them got together over a beer to discuss the only time they had worn the baggy green and not experienced success. "This loss hurts as much as any other loss," Clark said. "It would have been a nice record, but losing is losing. It doesn't matter how or where, whether it's a one-dayer, a Twenty20 or a Test, it's not a great feeling, and it drives a lot of us."

Clark had a fine match, picking up six wickets, including 4 for 61 in the second innings, and striking an entertaining 32 as Australia fought to the finish. While Clark performed strongly, there were serious concerns over Shaun Tait's inability to fire in the pace quartet.

Tait, who was playing his third Test, delivered only 21 overs for the game and did not capture a wicket. Brad Hogg is likely to return in Adelaide as Australia use a more traditional attack of three fast bowlers and a spinner.

"Shaun hasn't had much bowling," Clark said. "He's had a little bit in the one-dayers and Twenty20 and there is a difference for Tests. He didn't have the best game of his life, but he's a quality player."

On the first day Tait started operating above 150kph, but his accuracy became an issue in subsequent spells and his desire for a long bowl in the second innings was ended by Australia's slow over-rate. Despite Tait's problems, Ricky Ponting was not overly concerned.

"It's pretty hard for someone coming in who has not played a Test for a while, trying to impress and do the right thing," he said. "He bowled 20 overs and probably didn't get the bowling right. The conditions caught us off guard and the pace in the pitch wasn't there. Shaun's pace through the game levelled out at 145kph and above, that's pretty good."

Clark and Brett Lee were impressive during the match and Mitchell Johnson provided capable support, but the home team was out-bowled by India's swing men, who upset Australia's batting rhythm and exposed their problems when the ball moves around. Aiming for seam movement is more of an Australian trait than weaving it through the air, although they have been trying to improve their methods since 2005.

"It's something we've worked on with [the bowling coach] Troy Cooley," Clark said. "It's important for some places and one of the things to do to make us better cricketers."

Adelaide is a ground where reverse-swing is more likely - Tait is particularly dangerous there in Pura Cup games - and the pitch also helps the spinners, giving India a chance to level the series. "Like Melbourne and Sydney, I suppose the conditions will suit them," Clark, who has complained previously about surfaces not helping the home team, said. "Hopefully we can play well and put them back on the back foot."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo