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Clarke believes England won’t know what’s hit them until it’s too late
After having endured non-stop criticism in the press after being handed a 4-0 whitewashing at the hands of India, Australia captain Michael Clarke has delivered a warning to England ahead of the back-to-back Ashes series, which is set to begin in July, stating that they should not underestimate the baggy greens’ batting and bowling capabilities.
Clarke will have a small smirk on his face heading into the first two Ashes Tests, which will be played at Trent Bridge and Lord’s, since both grounds are well known for the huge amounts of pace and swing bowlers are able to get off the pitch.
With Australia having a fully stocked line-up of pace bowlers to choose from, that is if none of them succumb to an injury just before the series, Clarke and his squad may just have what it takes to put England on the back foot and turn their fortunes around.
However, Clarke also pointed out that all of Australia’s batsmen will need to play their part as well, whereby they need to score runs in order to give the bowlers something to defend.
“We’ve got a good attack, there’s no doubt about it,” Clarke said. “The squad of quicks we have is a really good combination. They gel well together, they’re all a little bit different.
“But there’s the other side. As batters we’ve got to put runs on the board, it’s no good giving our attack 150 runs to bowl at. So as batters we have a huge responsibility and a big job to make sure we’re getting 350, getting 400 and putting those runs on the board, and I’m very confident if we can select the best attack we can have some success over there.”
Clarke also noted that the overhead conditions in England will determine how well both the batsmen and bowlers will perform, which is a good indication that the Australian skipper has been doing his homework ahead of the important series.
“I think conditions more in the air play a bigger part in England than what you see on the surface,” he said. “If the sun’s out generally the wickets in England are very good for batting. If it’s overcast, it doesn’t matter how dry the wicket is, you get a lot of swing and some seam in the UK. I don’t think you can plan too much over there. I think England will use their strengths in their conditions. We’ll be able to adapt, we’ve got Nathan Lyon, hopefully I can bowl a few part-timers as well. We’ll find a way.”
Having endured back and hamstring troubles during the Test series in India, which even resulted in him being ruled out of a Test match for the first time since he made his debut in 2004, Clarke revealed that he had completed a two-week training camp in the southern highlands of New South Wales with his personal trainer Duncan Kerr.
In an attempt to combat his lingering back and hamstring injuries, Clarke stated that he would report to the national team’s physiotherapist Alex Kountouris right away.
“I’ve used the experts around me,” Clarke said. “Alex Kountouris, the Australian physio with a nutrition degree, has been fantastic and he’s been monitoring my program. In regards to my back it’s the daily maintenance I do … I’ve had another two-week boot camp with Duncan Kerr, we went away to my property there and trained really hard.
“So my preparation in regards to last year has been very similar, but it’s been monitored extra closely by the support staff to make sure I’m getting the strength I need, and to make sure I’m well prepared to play the whole 12 months.
“I’m confident it’ll be no different to what it has been through my career. I’ve managed to play 90-odd Test matches and only miss one through my career. That’s a big part of why preparation is so important for me, I need to make sure I’m fit, need to make sure I’m not carrying too much weight, I need to make sure I’m putting in the work to be fit in eight or 12 months’ time.”
Since he one of the few Australian players not to travel to India for the Indian Premier League (IPL), Clarke has been a regular face around the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, where he has been training with the Dukes ball in order to prepare himself for the upcoming Ashes series.
“It’s more just getting used to facing a different ball to a Kookaburra,” Clarke said. “With your bowling action hanging on to the ball, catching and fielding as well, just because the ball is a little bit different to what we’re used to in Australia.
“We’re disappointed with our most recent results in India, we know that’s unacceptable as an Australian cricket team, and we’ve been working hard to try to turn that around. All I can ask for from the boys is to continue to prepare as well as we can, and give it a red hot crack. We know we’re playing against a very good team in their own back yard. Test cricket in my eyes will always be the pinnacle, and playing against England in England is as big as it gets.”