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Standing tall to lead final fightback

cricket Updated: Jan 01, 2011 00:31 IST

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Michael Clarke brushed off the strong public sentiment against his appointment as the captain and said he would use lessons learned from several years under Ricky Ponting's tutelage to re-ignite the bumbling Australian team.

Reacting to a poll conducted by The Age, Clarke said: "I think it's part and parcel of what we do now, as a professional cricketer these days you're spending a lot of the time interacting with the media. I've copped a lot of criticism throughout my whole career, it's no different now."

On his elevation as the captain for the fifth and the final Ashes Test, Clarke said: "I probably see it as temporary, I've been vice-captain for a while now … no doubt I'm grateful and honoured for this opportunity but it is temporary and it's about doing whatever I can to help this team have success in this Test match."

Clarke said he has learnt a lot from Ricky Ponting, who will be missing the Test match with a finger injury.

"No doubt I'll take a lot of what I've learned from Ricky Ponting as a leader onto the field, I think his leadership has been outstanding. Again we haven't got the results that we've wanted throughout this series, but I think the way we've gone about everything has been spot on, we just haven't been able to get over the line," he said.

"I think I'll definitely take a lot of his leadership qualities that I've learned, I've played nearly 70 Test matches with him now. But again I'll be my own person, as I have been when I've captained the Twenty20 and one-day teams," he added.

Coach Tim Nielsen also showed his faith on Clarke's leadership abilities.

"So much of the public's ideas is made up on the perception of what they see on the television or what they see in the media. We understand the character that Michael has and the leadership ability that Michael has."

"His opportunity now is not necessarily to prove people wrong but to show how he can take on the role. Do it with the positive light that gives his team the best chance of playing as well as it possibly can," Nielsen said.

"I think over the next couple of weeks the Australian public will see a different Michael Clarke. He'll have the opportunity to relax, he's not the man-in-waiting, he's actually the man. That's a big pressure off his shoulders."

"Given the opportunity, we know that he's the right man for the job. As I say with the young players, we need the patience we need to let performance do the talking rather than the perception. That's a tough thing for everyone."

Anderson wary of debutant Khawaja
Strike bowler James Anderson insisted Friday that England could nullify the threat of Australian Test debutant Usman Khawaja.

Pakistan-born Khawaja, 24, is set to make his Test bow for his adopted country as injured skipper Ricky Ponting's replacement in the Sydney Test, starting on Monday.

Anderson the tourists' attack will be able to snuff out the threat from the technically gifted Khawaja. "It will be slightly new. We've played against him and had a bit of experience against him," Anderson said.

"The guys have had a bit of a taste of what he's about, what his strengths are."

Khawaja, top-scorer in this season's domestic Sheffield Shield competition, went cheaply for 13 and a duck playing for Australia A against the tourists at Hobart.