Clark jubiliant as he is to play under Warne

Published: Thursday, April 8, 2004, 23:48 [IST]
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Sydney:Australian Test batting prodigy Michael Clarke says he is relishing the prospect of playing under the captaincy of Shane Warne at English county Hampshire.

With Warne as skipper, 23-year-old Clarke hopes to get plenty of opportunities to convince the Australian selectors of his Test credentials.

Already a One-day International, Clarke leaves for England on Friday for a stint at Hampshire where both Warne and Simon Katich have played in recent years.

Clarke wants to play as much first-class cricket as possible after playing mainly One-day cricket in the last Australian domestic season.

Since November, the dashing right-hander has played 25 limited overs games and just three first-class fixtures.

"Ninety percent of the reason why I am going (to Hampshire) is to have the opportunity to play four-day cricket and bat for long periods," Clarke said on Thursday.

"When I look at last season, I didn't have the opportunity to play too much four-day cricket, obviously playing One-day cricket for Australia is something I've always wanted to do.

"But I didn't get to play too many four-dayers for NSW, so I think it's a great opportunity for me to get over there and play the longer form of the game."

Clarke said the prospect of an Ashes tour in 2005 was not a major factor in his decision to play in England this year, but rather the fact that Warne would be Hampshire captain.

"Obviously, Shane going played a big part in me signing. I've heard a lot about him as a captain and I think he will be great for my cricket," said Clarke, who has never played with Warne at any level.

Although a regular in the Australian One-day team - he has played 25 matches to date - Clarke was overlooked for the recent Test tour of Sri Lanka when the retirement of captain Steve Waugh left a vacancy in the middle order.

With a first class career average of 38 and just 74 runs at 18.50 for NSW in two matches last summer, Clarke knew what he needed to do to push his Test claims.

"I need to score more runs for the selectors to look at me, I think that's the answer," he said.

"I didn't get the opportunity to play too much four-day cricket last year.

"But I look at my numbers in four-day cricket and they can definitely be better - they can definitely improve, so that is my goal, to score more runs."

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