'I have to perform as a batsman and captain'

If we execute our skills we can beat any team: Clarke

'I have to perform as a batsman and captain'

Just about four months ago, Michael Clarke was the darling of the cricket loving public of Australia. He had led the team with grace and eloquence in the aftermath of Philip Hughes’ tragic death here at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

He almost risked his career when he played with his hamstring injury in the first Test against India at the Adelaide Oval as a mark of respect to Hughes, scored a century, hurt his hamstring again and got ruled out for the rest of the summer. Steven Smith led admirably in his absence while George Bailey was a popular choice to lead in ODIs. Australia won the tri-series under Bailey beating England in the final and led the team in the first match of the World Cup.

Clarke recuperated in time to meet the deadline set by Cricket Australia and launched a media blitz to garner support even as the uncertainty over his availability for the tournament was perceived as a none-too-ideal build-up for the home World Cup. Clarke, however, remained firm and got fit but his position in the team is still being questioned. 

“Everybody's entitled to their own opinion,” said Clarke when asked about the comments. “I've played over 200 one-dayers now for Australia, and I think my record stacks up against just about anyone. So, for me it's about making sure I perform with the bat and also as captain of the team,” he noted.

While Clarke followed a tough regimen and did everything in his hand to get fit for the World Cup, he said Thursday’s semifinal was just another game for him. “I haven't thought too much about it to be honest, not like that anyway,” he remarked when asked as to how big the occasion was for him given his struggles. “I think I wrote in my column yesterday that as big as this event is to every cricketing nation and to the people that support the game of cricket, as a player, it's no different to any other game.

I think you don't do yourself justice if your attitude changes because of the event. I think every time I've walked out on to the field as an Australian cricketer I've wanted to perform individually and help the team have success and that will be no different in this game. I can't try any harder. I can't train any harder. That won't help me have success,” he elaborated.
Clarke was asked if he was surprised by India’s turnaround in the World Cup after losses in Tests and tri-series and what has changed now for them. “They're just playing some really good cricket,” Clarke began. “I think that's probably the most important message of this great game. It doesn't necessarily matter who the person is that's bowling the ball. That's actually irrelevant. It's about seeing that white ball and adapting to what comes out of that hand.

I think if you can focus on what comes out of that hand and react to that then you give yourself the best chance of having success. Who you're bowling to is irrelevant. We do enough work to make sure we know our opposition well. We've played a lot of cricket against India. We know their strengths and weaknesses, and we know they're a very good team. We have to execute our skills as well as we possibly can, and if we do that, I have confidence that we can beat any team we play against.”

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