Toughest challenge of my career: Clarke
Michael Clarke has passed most his tests as Australia’s captain with flying colours. Since being at the helm, he has flourished as a batsman and led his boys from the front. However, right before taking a flight from Sydney to Chennai, Clarke described the Test series in India as one of his biggest challenges.
"Touring India is as tough a challenge as I've had in my career," Clarke said. "Every time I've been there on a Test tour, it's been extremely difficult. Hence the Australian team hasn't won that much over there. So it's a huge challenge; the players know that.
Cricket Australia has sent a few members of the team to India early so that they can acclimatise to conditions, which are extremely different from home. Having had ample experience of playing in India, Clarke stressed on the importance of thorough preparation when playing in this part of the world.
"We're trying to prepare as well as we can by sending players early to get them used to conditions, to give ourselves the best chance. We know it's going to be tough, we know how good India is, but we look forward to it.
"What I've learned in the past is how important preparation is for my personal performance. I need to make sure I've done all my training to give myself the best chance of scoring runs,” he said.
The Australian captain didn’t commit to any particular combination for the first Test and said that the performance in the two warm-up matches will go a long way in determining the playing XI.
"It's very open, hence we've sent 17 players in three different stages to get over there as soon as possible to prepare and get used to conditions," Clarke said. "Runs and wickets will certainly play a big part in these practice games leading up to the first Test, but for a lot of guys it's more about preparation and seeing conditions."
Clarke, who is suffering from a hamstring strain, will not make it for the first warm-up game. He, however, was keen to get fit for the second match that Australia are scheduled to play against India A, starting Feb 16.
"I'd really like to play that three-dayer. I'll be advised by Alex [Kountouris] the physio once I land in India. But at this stage, my plan is to play that three-dayer. There is so much time, I don't think there is any doubt I'll be fit for the first Test.
"In my mind, cricket-wise I feel like I need that game to spend some time in the middle in Indian conditions both batting and bowling, but also with my captaincy as well, because India is such a different place to Australia. But I'll listen to the expert and see what he has to say."
"That's what I'm looking forward to over the next few days. Getting into the Indian conditions, batting on those wickets, facing a lot of reverse swing, a lot of spin bowling, and making sure when that first ball's bowled in that first Test that I'll be as well prepared as I was for this summer,” Clarke reiterated.