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Time Clarke got his act together

Michael Clarke is mired in the worst kind of slump a batsman can experience. His problems are not just a case of mind over matter but he also has to deal with a technical flaw.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2011 00:27 IST

Michael Clarke is mired in the worst kind of slump a batsman can experience. His problems are not just a case of mind over matter but he also has to deal with a technical flaw.

In most instances a slump for an international batsman involves purely coming to the realisation (after weeks of tinkering with footwork, your grip and wondering if your eyes are failing) that what you really need to do is focus on the ball leaving the bowler's hand. Nothing else, it's as simple as that.

Most struggling batsmen think that's what they're doing but in reality they're watching an area around the bowler's hand. This problem can be triggered by any number of things ranging from lack of confidence to personal issues but there's one common denominator; the runs just don't flow.

In Clarke's case his over-eagerness to stamp his authority at the crease has him committing too early on the front foot. This in turn leads to technical issues. Even in defence he plants his front foot and then sends the bat on a reconnaissance mission; "Off you go willow and see what you can find out there."

There's nothing in his current play to suggest a stay at the crease will be either long or fruitful. That could change with one long innings; ideally a stint in the Sheffield Shield competition would do wonders for his batting.

However, this isn't an option, as there's no Sheffield Shield cricket being played. At the moment it's all T 20 and while attack is often the best way for a stroke player to exit a slump, it would be senseless asking Clarke to play in the Big Bash for New South Wales. What he needs is to play a long innings; perhaps one full of strokes but definitely resulting in a substantial score.

A big score calms the nerves, rallies the confidence and erases all the rubbish that clogs the mind like a Mumbai traffic jam. Therein lies the dilemma for the selectors. They can't demote Clarke to help him sort out his problems, while replacing him with a batsman who is only scoring quick-fire twenties and thirties in T 20 cricket is risky.

Somehow, Clarke has to find a way to clear his mind and sort out his technique in order to post a big score. If he's successful he can then look forward to the World Cup with confidence.