Aussies ready to take on the neighbourhood threat

Published: Sunday, November 7, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Australia will be fresh and ready to take on New Zealand in a two-Test series even though they have only just returned from a successful Indian tour, new cricketing hero Michael Clarke said.

The Australians take on the Kiwis, with the first Test starting in Brisbane on November 18, after clinching their first series win in India for 35 years.

Clarke and the other New South Wales-based members of the squad, fellow batsman Simon Katich and pace bowlers Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee, arrived home on Sunday following the 2-1 series victory over India.

The Australian team will have little time to recover from the tough Indian tour but Clarke and McGrath have little doubt they will be fresh enough to tackle their next challenge.

The exciting 23-year-old Clarke is particularly looking forward to what would be his first Test opportunity at home.

"If I'm given the opportunity, personally I can't wait to play, no matter who we are playing against," Clarke said.

"The boys will definitely be up for it. I know everybody is looking forward to getting back and having a couple of days off, but I'm sure everybody will be fresh and raring to go."

McGrath, who passed the 100-Test mark on the India tour, did not feel the Australians would have any difficulty in getting up again so soon.

"The easiest thing is getting to the top but staying there is probably the hardest thing. We will just plan as normal, set our standard and try and achieve the next goal, whatever that may be," said McGrath, who claimed 14 wickets in the series.

Part-time left-arm spinner Clarke played down his remarkable bowling figures of 6-9 in the final Mumbai Test, won by India by 13 runs in just over two days.

"Luckily, I bowled the ball in a half-decent area and they seemed to nick it," said Clarke, who almost doubled his tally of first class wickets and virtually halved his bowling average in the one spell.

Clarke topped the batting and bowling averages for Australia in the four-Test series, scoring 400 runs at 57.14 and taking his six wickets at 2.16.

Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said he wants Brett Lee, who did not play in any of the India Tests, to play for New South Wales in the four-day tour game against New Zealand starting here on Thursday.

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