Ashes

Clarke to do it his way

2011-01-03 12:58
Michael Clarke (File)

Sydney - Stand-in skipper Michael Clarke said on Sunday he intends to lead Australia his way in this week's final Ashes Test against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Clarke, captaining in place of the injured Ricky Ponting in the fifth Test, has opted to change the way the team's symbolic baggy green caps are handed out to debutants Michael Beer and Usman Khawaja before the start of play.

Ponting, as captain, generally made the on-field presentations to Test newcomers, but Clarke has decided to call on a pair of former players to perform the task on Monday.

Clarke said he wanted to replicate the feeling he enjoyed when Shane Warne presented him with his first cap for his debut Test at Bangalore in 2004.

The 29-year-old, bidding to level the five-match series with England at 2-2, said he wanted to keep identities of the former players under wraps.

"I'd like to invite a couple of the older guys who have experienced Test cricket to present the caps," Clarke told reporters.

"They'll be guys outside the team who have played for Australia. The players don't know who they are so it's a bit of a surprise for them."

While Ponting will remain a visible presence around the Australian dressing room during the Sydney Test as he is treated for a fractured finger, Clarke said he would be in charge of the team.

"Yeah, it is (my team)," he said. "Ricky's made that very clear, that all the decisions that are made will come from the people, the selectors firstly, to pick the team.

"But once I take that field, they will come from me."

Clarke said he discussed with Ponting the possible awkward situation of having the injured skipper around the team dressing room for the fifth Test.

It was decided that Ponting's experience from playing 152 Tests would be an asset not only to Clarke but also to other members of the team.

"I think you've already seen at training over the last couple of days he's had a chance to help all the guys who have gone to him and asked for help," Clarke said.

"For me, personally he's again helping me with my batting. He consistently does that and this has been a great chance for me to get some help.

"Ricky being around throughout this Test match is a great thing for all the players, but especially for me to have this chance to be captain."

Warne, another of Clarke's cricket mentors, will also be at the Sydney Test.

"Warney has helped me a lot. I played under him at Hampshire and learned a lot as a young player from what he did as a captain, the way he went about things," Clarke said.

"Warney was a very aggressive captain. I don't think I'm that aggressive but I've learned from him on the field. I've learned a lot from him, on and off the field, his experiences."

Clarke will also have to deal with the pressure of a poor series with the bat, after scoring just 148 runs in seven innings at 21.14.

"It's certainly a lot tougher because if you've got the double whammy of the side not playing well, then there's almost not enough time in the day to think about your own game plus what you need to do in the team," England skipper Andrew Strauss said.

"So it is tough but it's always temporary and I think that's the reality.

"For good players, personal form's only going to desert you for a certain amount of time and usually you come out the other side, which is reassuring for all of us."

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