Millennium Post

Sachin’s the greatest I have seen: Clarke

As much as he ‘enjoys’ Sachin Tendulkar's batting, Australian captain Michael Clarke's primary endeavour during the upcoming four-match Test series against India will be to stop the veteran from scoring ‘too many runs’. ‘You can have as many plans as possible for Sachin Tendulkar but he is a great player. He is the greatest I have seen and I have always loved playing against him. His sign of greatness is his longevity and consistency,’ Clarke said.

‘I was walking on the treadmill and watching his 100 in the Irani Cup game. I enjoy his batting but as an Australian captain, I would like to ensure that he doesn't score too many runs,’ Clarke told a news channel. While the Aussie captain is happy that his team won't be bowling to the greats like Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, who have tormented them in the past, he feels that the younger Indian players would like to stamp their authority on the series.

‘It's nice for us that a lot of greats like Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman have retired. It's good that our bowlers don't need to bowl to them but the new players will like to stamp their authority on the game.’

Clarke also cleverly avoided the questions about pressure on India captain MS Dhoni after a series of disappointing results in Test matches as well as his form in the longer version of the game. ‘Neither do I look too much into past nor do I look too far ahead. I am not sure whether MS or the Indian team will be giving up too easily but my focus is on Australian team and we are ready,’ he said.

Questioned if they have taken a cue from India's home series against England, Clarke said, ‘Lot of our guys watched the series but we know how good a team India is. Any team having Sachin Tendulkar will be a team to beat in their own country. But I have learnt one thing about playing in sub-continent. Whether you are No 1 bowler or debutant patience and consistency will be key to success,’ he said.

Clarke agreed that Australia's success in the Test series against India will depend largely on ‘how we play spin as well as how we bowl spin.’ ‘They have Ashwin, Ojha, Jadeja and I know that Harbhajan is back in the side. They have a lot of talent. We have been tracking Ashwin closely as he has done well with both bat and ball,’ the skipper said.

He did agree that his team's strength is pace led by Peter Siddle. ‘Definitely, our fast bowling stocks are very strong. Peter Siddle has shown how to transform talent into performance. Our fast bowlers have really shown lot of heart and character. They have a lot of respect for me and I have a lot of respect for them.

‘I can throw the ball at them at any time and expect wickets. For me it doesn't matter, whether Matthew Wade bowls but all I need is 20 wickets. The Australian team comes above everything else,’ said Clarke.

For Clarke, his own performance is of little relevance as long as hi  team is able to win the series. ‘As a leader, I expect to do well and lead by example. You want to perform and be at your best. But then, the team comes first. I am ready to settle for four ducks in four Tests if Australia happen to win the series.’ More than quality of batsmanship, Clarke feels that Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey's absence will be felt while trying to ‘mentor’ the junior players. ‘Off the field, I would be needed more to help the youngsters during the training sessions.’

A veteran of 89 Tests, who is just 11 short of completing 7000 runs, Clarke emphatically stated that he has ‘never played the sport for money’ when he was asked whether he got a raw deal after fetching only $400,000 at the IPL auctions. ‘Throughout my entire career, it has never been about playing for money. Had it been so, I would have never skipped earlier editions of IPL. I didn't play as my body didn't permit. I have always been a huge supporter of IPL but right now, my focus is on the Test series.’
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