Australia in West Indies 2012 March 25, 2012

Refreshed Clarke leaves for Caribbean


Michael Clarke was the subject of some criticism when he chose to ignore the advice of Australia's physio Alex Kountouris and play through a hamstring strain in the latter part of the home ODI triangular series. However the misadventures of the team so far in the Caribbean have proved that Clarke's hesitance about missing matches was well-founded, as the tourists are now facing the prospect of a first series loss since he took over the captaincy from Ricky Ponting.

Having recovered from the hamstring strain that he aggravated by playing on in Australia, Clarke flew out to the West Indies on Sunday in order to have plenty of acclimatisation time ahead of a warm-up match and three Tests against the hosts in Barbados, Trinidad and Dominica. Clarke will not take part in the final ODI, but has watched his team-mates intently from afar, noting the difficulty presented by the slow, turning pitches of St Vincent and a feisty home side.

"Conditions have been tough. I've watched a lot of it on television," Clarke said. "The wickets look really slow and they're spinning a fair bit, a lot different to what we've faced in Australia. It's great experience for a lot of the guys who haven't toured the West Indies before.

"It's a big game tomorrow morning for us to level the series. It will help the guys already there to have played in those conditions. It does take time to adjust. The wickets look really slow and have spun as much as any wicket around the world. We always talk about spin in India and Sri Lanka but the wicket in St Vincent, that's as much as I've seen the ball spin and bounce for a long time."

The break enforced by Clarke's hamstring trouble has allowed him time to strengthen other areas of his body, notably a troublesome back that has intervened to limit his international appearances - though never Test matches - on numerous occasions since his 2003 debut. Clarke still believes he did the right thing by playing on in defiance of Kountouris, and also feels the time off has refreshed him for the Caribbean tour.

"If you ask me I'm saying 100 percent I made the right decision - it was a finals series," Clarke said. "If you ask the Australian physio he would have liked some more time. He would have liked me to probably not play that second final but that's part of what we do. There are injuries in our sport.

"Touch-wood my body has been pretty good. I've played almost 10 years of international cricket and my body has held up pretty well. It's just now about monitoring with the amount of cricket we're playing. It's no doubt [the break has] been a positive for my body - not picked up a bat or a ball - improved strength - opportunity to strengthen back.

"I'm feeling really good. It's been a big couple of weeks of rehab and treatment with my physio. I had a fitness test Friday. Alex flew up from Melbourne and I passed all of that. It's really positive and I've got seven days before our tour game starts so I've still got a bit of time when I get to the Caribbean."

Due to his recovery program, and also the rigours of one of the longest travel hauls undertaken by the Australian team, Clarke departed two days in advance of the other Test players. He has spent some time thinking about the right combinations for Caribbean climes, and said the option of dual spin from Nathan Lyon and Michael Beer was looming larger in his thoughts now than ever.

"If conditions are like they are in the one-dayers it's certainly something we need to consider," Clarke said. "Nathan Lyon and Michael Beer are two very good spinners who have great control. I've seen them both during the Australian summer bowl very early domestically so they can control the new ball as well.

"They can tie off one end if it's not spinning but if conditions are like what I've seen in the one-dayers I think they'll both be a handful."

Edited by Abhishek Purohit

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    @maddy20- Before you starting bad mouthing this Aussie squad, please, please look at their recent overseas performances: 1-0 win against SL, then a 3-2 win 1-1 draw against SA, then a 2-1 win Take into account that these series were played when the current squad was still a bit unsettled. Oh, and I noticed that you mentioned the 1-1 draw against SA by India, let me tell you that the series was 2 and a half years ago. And finally, let me mention 4-0 in Australia.

  • John on March 26, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    @ Majr

    There aren't many teams doing much better than the Australians right now! Yes they were pummelled in the Ashes, but England have pummelled nearly everyone lately. And yes SA got them out for 47 (mind you the Aussies got SA out for 98 in the same match on the same day). And yes, NZ beat them in Hobart (the most NZ like pitch in Australia). But the series against both SA and NZ were drawn, not lost. And every Australian knows that the team isn't on song yet. But, as I say, they look capable of competing at least against most other teams. Also Lyon had quite a bit of success against the spin kings of India. I think Australia as a whole has a winning record in every place except India and they have even had some success in India. And don't also forget that Aus has won 4 ODI World Cups, 3 in a row and 2 consecutive without even losing a match!!!

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2012, 3:54 GMT

    yes clarke has not too good records of captaincy,,,,but hoping good crckt from OZ ,,,like ponting and pup

  • SIva on March 26, 2012, 2:00 GMT

    At least Aussies are better than others not smashed 4-0 and 3-0 away. Even if they lose they go down with a fight. Good luck OZ.

  • Andrew on March 25, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    @maddy20 - we didn't get bowled out 43 or lose to Bangladesh! LOL! @Majr - so Oz's 1all in Saffaland was lucky hey, given Oz has NEVER lost a series there since readmission, I think you need to brush up on history fella! @hhillbumper PAKISTAN THREE (3), WORLD XI (Poms) Nil (0). LOL!

  • Ahmad on March 25, 2012, 22:46 GMT

    This is the Biggest Test for West Indies To really see if they are rising, Because T20 and ODI dont really prove if your Rising. West Indies do well in the ODI, they could of won the series, but We all must Except that Sammy's Team did Well, and After 17 YEar They Finally didnt Los the series at leeast.

  • Bryn on March 25, 2012, 17:17 GMT

    beer and lyon would take 10 wickets in about a session each time, its just whether we want the other super stars having a chance. im sure patto sidds ryno and hilf want some more wickets

  • P Subramani on March 25, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    Cummins and Pattison were mentioned by me only because the media and general public mostly in Australia though,would have the world believe that they are the future greats in world cricket. Cummins came across as a fun loving young man and was not given to the usual Oz culture of saying something to offend. But Pattison in the joy of success thought he needed to be a thoroughbred Australian in the matter of sledging. It is simply not needed. The Garth Mckenzies and the Meckiffs of the past, good as they were never needed to be abusive. They just carried on and did brilliantly in all conditions. Michael Clarke seems committed to put an end to Steve Waugh's philosopy. If he does it will be good for world cricket. Incidentally, I would also like to point out that the 1-1 in South Africa was a lucky scoreline considering that only 2 tests were played and does'nt talk about Australia's 47 all out. That apart, the Proteas have seldom done well at home in recent times.

  • V.L on March 25, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    @VivGilchrist Yeah , yeah. You have beaten SL who have been going through a very lean phase. And India drew with SA 1-1 too. But we did not get bowled out for 43. That I can proudly say. Infact conditions is SA are similar to Aus. So thats no big deal.Win a series in India against us and in Dubai against Pakistan. Me thinks SL is gonna get another round of pummeling from Eng, who in turn got a hiding from Pak. As of now Bangladesh has better spinners in Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan than Australia!

  • Ian on March 25, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    Captain MJ Clarke will once again prove he is an outstanding captain, a sublime batsman and terrific all round cricketer. I predict 2 centuries from him in the upcoming test series, probably with an average around 60. His injury management over the past decade has been excellent. Not sure if he has ever missed a test due to injury, and we all know he puts that format as his first priority.

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