Image courtesy of: ABC
Clarke refuses to believe this Ashes series will have any impact on his career
Australia captain Michael Clarke has insisted that this year’s back-to-back Ashes series will not make or break his international career as he is treating it like any other Test series.
Despite Clarke’s attempts to downplay the importance of the historic series, it was clear that he was nervous, especially with all the cricket pundits and former players backing England to dominate Australia.
“I’ve read it will make or break my reputation as a captain. Personally, I don’t feel like that,” Clarke said. “Every Test match I play in, every time I walk out to bat I try and make a hundred, whether it’s against Bangladesh, India, South Africa or England. That doesn’t change my mindset. Because of the history and tradition of what comes with Ashes cricket, which is fantastic, it obviously builds this series up and that’s great for the game, but as a player my mindset will be no different than it was last summer. Every time I captain Australia I want us to win.
“I understand there’s so much expectation that comes with an Ashes tour, and that’s from fans back at home, this is everything to an Australian fan, the biggest series you play as a cricketer. But as a player, that expectation I have on myself every single day, I’m not more disappointed if we lose the first Test against England than if we lose the first Test against South Africa or India and the excitement when we win will be no different. There’s no more pressure from within.”
England captain Alastair Cook seemed to look much more confident, but looks can be misleading, as he admitted that the pressure from the media and fans were getting to him as he would be condemned and criticised if he were to lose the vital series.
“They are the biggest Test matches we can play, as an Englishman or an Australian,” Cook said. “The history and the tradition and the rivalry, how much the whole country gets behind both sides whether you’re in England or Australia. I think it can define a career. It’s not the be all and end all, but I’ve had some very fond memories in Ashes series of winning it and hope to add a few more over my career.
“I think the external pressure and the hype is that there is more interest in the country in general. For players who are aware of that and can deal with that, clearly the cricket stays the same. It’s the same 22 yards, the same red ball, but it does heighten. That’s where you want to test yourself, in increased pressure situations.”
While Clarke may deny it all he likes, it is clear that Cricket Australia have been putting together the best XI possible after the national team were humiliated in their own backyard during the 2010-11 Ashes series.
Also with all the controversies to hit the Australian team over the past couple of months, Clarke has told his troops to play hard, but enjoy themselves at the same time.
“The media and the public will build it and it’s a fantastic series to be a part of, so instead of being scared of it, enjoy every single moment,” Clarke said. “Love being out there and hearing the Barmy Army, seeing so many people in a packed house, love walking out at Lord’s for the first time for the guys who haven’t experienced that.
“You spend a lot of time together, it’s always tough cricket, but the boys are in a fantastic place. They’re excited about what lies ahead and we know we will walk out there and give our absolute best. We have prepared as well as we possibly can. Guys are excited about facing if the ball is swinging or reverse swinging or if Graeme Swann is spinning it. We have a chance to play against a very good England team, in their own backyard, we’ve got nothing to lose, we’ve got a great group of players with plenty of talent, let’s get out there and enjoy every minute of it.”