Cardiff - Australia captain Michael Clarke has insisted his side will play
"hard but fair" cricket as they try to win their first away Ashes
series in 14 years.
In the run-up to the first Test in Cardiff starting on Wednesday there has
been much discussion about 'sledging' or verbal abuse of opponents, which the
International Cricket Council - having started a crackdown at this year's World
Cup - wants eliminated from the game.
Clarke himself was at the centre of controversy during Australia's 5-0 rout
of England on home soil in 2013/14 when he told England tail ender James
Anderson to "get ready for a broken fucking arm".
But Clarke, speaking ahead of the first Test, insisted he and his side knew
where the limits were.
"I think everyone knows where the line is," he said.
"You definitely need to respect the laws of the game, you can play hard
but play fair.
"You don't have to 'sledge' to play tough cricket.
"I've made it very clear throughout my whole captaincy that I don't
want anyone to overstep the line.
"In the last Ashes series if anyone overstepped it, it was me so I have
to make sure I set my standard and have the discipline to stay there as well
which I know I will.
"I've learnt from what's happened in the past, and the boys know how we
play our best cricket."
Clarke's three previous Ashes tours have all ended in defeat and the
34-year-old batsman is desperate to fill in one of the few gaps in his illustrious
CV by beating England in Britain.
He said overhead conditions would play a big role in his side's fortunes.
"A lot of grounds around the world you look at the pitch before
deciding whether you're going to bat or bowl first," Clarke explained.
"In the UK you look above, more than at the wicket. When it's overcast
you see a lot more movement around the country and when the sun's out it can be
a really nice place to bat.
"The other thing is in conditions like that, once you get in as batsman
you have to go on and make a big score," he added.
"You're never out of the game as a bowler, there's always something
there -- whether it's the slope at Lord's or you get some overhead conditions,
or you take the second new ball. There's always an opportunity with the Dukes
"So as a batter you need to know that. Whereas in Australia when you
feel like you're batting well and get to 40 and 50, things become a little bit
easier, sometimes here it's not the case. You've got to work your backside off
for your whole innings."