I will bat higher: Clarke
Michael Clarke is a proud man. Captaining Australia to a meek innings and 135-run surrender in the Hyderabad Test hit him hard. Dejection was writ large on Clarke’s face as he walked into the press conference room after the match. The words ‘unacceptable’ and ‘disappointing’ dominated his 10-minute interaction with the media.
266 runs behind in the second innings, Australia folded at 131 on the morning of the fourth day. They lost nine wickets for 75 runs. But what concerned the Australian captain more was their performance in the first innings, where they could muster up only 237 runs. He summed up his disappointed thus:
“Our batting has been unacceptable in the first two Test matches. I’m more concerned about our first innings performances than our second innings, mainly because we won both tosses and the wickets have been at their best when we batted. 237 is unacceptable. We have no excuse for making 237 in the first innings.
“Our shot selection has been horrible. A lot of our guys were out playing across the line of the ball and against the spin, especially early in the innings. That’s where we need to be more discreet and disciplined,” Clarke fumed.
He urged his batsmen to take a cue from the Indians, particularly Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay, who together scored more runs in the Test than the entire Australian team.
“They showed us once again how to bat in these conditions – once you get in, how to go on and cash in to make a big score,” Clarke said. “In the first session on the second day, India scored 49 runs. But they had the discipline and patience to bat for a long time. They knew as the day goes on, it gets easier to bat and they’ll catch up.”
The captain was unhappy with his team for letting each other and their supporters down. “There are so many people who support us from home and those who fly around to watch us. We know that we’ve let them down. And we’ve let each other down.
“We have gotten out at crucial stages and let their partners down at the other end. By bowling bad overs, we’ve let our bowling partners down. By dropping catches, we’ve let our bowlers down. As a team, we’re letting each other down and that’s the most disappointing thing.
“I feel disappointed and I hope everyone in the Australian dressing room feels that way and feel like they’ve let a lot of people down. We need to feel disappointed, but that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible so that we can get better,” said an emotional Clarke.
The contribution of Australia’s top four batsmen in both innings combined was 131. Clarke walked in to bat at 57/3 and 75/3 in the first and second innings respectively. He was the sole centurion for Australia in the first Test and scored 91 in the first innings in Hyderabad. Clarke said that he now has no choice but to move up the order at No.3 or 4.
“I think I have no choice now. It’s not about me but what the team needs, and now especially in these conditions, I have to bat higher up,” he said, while maintaining that it won’t help the team much if they depend on one batsman to score big runs.
“The team’s batting order cannot revolve around one player. We need our top six batsmen to score runs and our bowling unit to pick wickets. It cannot be about one person. I’ve never played my cricket that way and I don’t want this team to do that. I believe we have the talent and every single one of us has to get better. I’d have liked to score more runs in the first innings and many more today. So, I’ve got work to do myself,” he said.
While Clarke was unequivocal about his frustration with the team’s performance, he also felt that this was no time for him to be harsh on his players.
“I don’t think me being angry with them will help because I’m responsible as well. I got out today cheaply and that makes me no different to any other player.”