Watch out for Malinga and Fernando: Clarke

Published: Sunday, November 4, 2007, 3:35 [IST]
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Sydney: Spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan has been the lethal weapon in the armoury of Sri Lankan team, but according to Aussie batsman Michael Clarke, it will be ''stupid'' to ignore the other match winners in the side to let them ''get under our guard''.

''Now Warney's gone, Murali's the No 1 spinner in international cricket,'' Clarke said. ''I look forward to taking him on, but I think we're all going to have to be on our game.'' ''With all the hype around Murali and his record, we'd be stupid to let two threatening players like (Lasith) Malinga and Dilhara (Fernando) get under our guard. They've both got some toe and the conditions in Brisbane will help their quicks,'' he said.

Australia have not played a Test since January, when they gave a befiting farewell to Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer by securing a 5-0 Ashes victory. Clarke played all five Ashes Tests and averaged 77.80 despite originally being left out of the squad for the first Test.

''I'm as keen as mustard. I can't wait to get the first Test underway. It's going to be a big series with all of us trying to stop Murali's record.'' ''I think it's going to be a tough challenge and that's what you play for. You want to play against the best,'' Clarke said in an interview with his team-mate Andrew Symonds in the Daily Telegraph.

The 26-years-old, believes that it will be perilous for the Aussies to relax against the Sri Lankan quicks and said, ''They've both got some toe and the conditions in Brisbane will help their quicks.'' ''It's going to be a very tough series and if we are not ready for a battle, we will know about it.''

On the new opening batsman Phil Jaques, the New South Wales batsman said, ''The greatest asset for Jaquesy is that no international team has seen him, so that will allow him to play his own game. He's very unorthodox, but once he finds his rhythm he can make big hundreds.'' ''He's also a good bat-pad fielder for the spinners, so if you bowl whatever those things are that you bowl, he can make you look good, too.''

''He's an intense guy. He's very focused on his preparation and likes to hit a lot of balls before he bats. He'll obviously be nervous, but I think we'll enjoy having him around the group. He definitely enjoys a beer after the game.'' Clarke, who made his debut against India scoring a thrilling 151 at Bangalore, is already been touted as the next Australian captain.

But the right handed batsman feels that it is important for him to cement his place in the side.

''It's a really important series for me, only five Tests back, I wasn't even in the starting line-up.'' ''I really want to bat as well as I can to do everything possible to cement a spot in this Australian team for years to come,'' Clarke said.

When asked about his preparation before the first Test starting on Thursday at Gabba, Clarke said, ''When I got to Brisbane I'll be making sure Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are my big training days.

Whether that's batting, bowling, gym, rehab or recovery, I'll be making sure my preparation is spot on.

''That's what has put me in good stead for the last 12 months, so by the time I get to the middle for the game, I'm in a position to score runs,'' he added.


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