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Clarke plays mentor, Aussies mull changes

A delivery from left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty rose sharply and left Usman Khawaja clueless at the Australia nets at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. Firoz Mirza reports.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2013 02:27 IST
Firoz Mirza
Firoz Mirza
Hindustan Times

A delivery from left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty rose sharply and left Usman Khawaja clueless at the Australia nets at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

Skipper Michael Clarke, who had positioned himself outside the nets, came up to advice the left-handed batsman, who is on his first Test tour of India and is yet to play in this series.

Clarke kept talking to the batsmen throughout the two-hour session on Wednesday morning, helping them to come to the terms with the wickets in India after two humiliating defeats.

Clarke is one of the only two batsmen in this squad to have played Tests in India and one can't think of anyone better when it comes to educating the younger players in the art of batting in the sub-continent. The Aussie skipper is also desperate as even batsmen with best credentials in the side, including Shane Watson, have not looked the part so far.


Australia coach Mickey Arthur spoke about how crucial it was for Clarke to play the mentor and that the visitors could ring in a few changes for the third Test starting in Mohali on March 14.

“I would be lying if I say we wouldn't be contemplating changes. We got two Tests to stay in this series. We got two matches to retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy. So we got to assess conditions there and then think about the best possible team to win. If that means making some possible changes, then we would,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Australia are desperate. It is not just that they are 2-0 behind, they have been roundly criticised for not showing the kind of fight the Aussies are renowned for.

Arthur, whose reputation is also on the line, said the batsmen will have to take more responsibility. “We (he and Clarke) had a chat this morning about our batsmen forming partnerships in the middle. Michael was doing the same with the players,” the South African said.

“When Michael talks, everyone listens because he is so experienced. He tried to connect with every batsman and give them every bit of advice he could to make them better players.”

Arthur believes Clarke's advice will motivate the young Australia players. “We want them to return as good players when we come here after a couple of years, and to play ODIs later this year.”

The Australia skipper took time out to talk to each batsman ahead of the Hyderabad Test, although that didn't have any effect. “It felt like I did a bit of coaching, it was a bit of fun, maybe after cricket,” he had said. With two more matches to go, the visitors will need to do much more than listening to pep talk. The squad will travel to Mohali on Thursday and then take a break for two days before resuming training on Sunday.

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