Sydney - Retiring Australia captain Michael Clarke on Thursday said the
fifth and final Ashes Test against England could be over in three days, and
admitted the odds were stacked against his team.
Clarke, who will bow out after the dead rubber, said The Oval pitch was
exceptionally green, a situation that has caused major headaches for his
batsmen during the series.
"The pitch The Oval has prepared for the fifth Test is the greenest
I've seen this entire series, and I believe there's every chance we could see a
third consecutive match finish inside three days," he said in a column for
the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
"However, this time, it simply has to be us that finishes on the right
side of the scoreboard.
"The boys know we are good enough to aim up in these conditions, but to
win it's going to take grit and dogged resilience, particularly from us as
batsmen - characteristics we just weren't able to find at Cardiff, Edgbaston
and Trent Bridge."
England, 3-1 up in the five-match contest, have already regained the Ashes
following crushing victories by eight wickets at Edgbaston and an innings and
78 runs at Trent Bridge where Australia failed to adjust to the seaming
They face a similar surface at The Oval starting on Thursday, where
Australia's top order must somehow put the nightmare of their first innings 60
all out in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge behind them.
"Our batting has been so poor in the first innings of the past two
Tests; we haven't given ourselves a chance and once again we have to be
prepared for the fact that surviving out there is going to be really
difficult," said Clarke.
"Technique and decision-making is obviously important, but it's all
about character in my opinion. We need to fight as hard as we possibly can and
it's our responsibility as Australian Test cricketers to do so."
For Clarke, his 115th Test will be his last before the 34-year-old prolific
batsman retires from international duty.
While admitting there will be no fairytale ending to his career, he vowed to
go out fighting.
"Of course I was hoping, as we all were, to go home with the
Ashes," he said.
"But for me playing for Australia has always meant fighting to the end,
even in the tough times. And with the odds stacked against us, that's what we
have the opportunity to do at The Oval."