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Clarke Works Hard Ahead Of Second Ashes Test

PTI 01 Dec 2010, 14:20:19 IST
PTI
Adelaide, Dec 1 :  Michael Clarke's industriousness and Mitchell Johnson's absence were revealing aspects of the Australian cricket team's preparations Wednesday for the second Ashes cricket test against England.

Clarke, who has been struggling with both injury and form, batted longer in the nets than the rest of Australia's batsmen combined, taking throw-downs and advice from coach Tim Nielsen and captain Ricky Ponting.

At the end of the session he declared himself fit for the test which starts Friday and said his laborious innings of 9 from 50 balls in the first test at Brisbane was due to tight bowling and not a back injury.

Fast bowlers Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus, whose places in the Australian team are under siege, did not bowl Wednesday while selection rivals Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris went through vigorous sessions.

Ponting worked intensely with his vice-captain in the nets, advising Clarke to try a more upright batting stance.

"I was just working on a few things and obviously Punter's (Ponting) seen me bat for a long time now through my career and picks things up at training," Clarke said. "So I was getting him to throw me a few balls and get him to have a look and see what his thoughts were."

Clarke said he adjusted his stance and was happy with the results.

"I felt a little bit better, if you saw my net session I struggled at the start there and felt like it got better throughout a pretty long net session, so that was good," he said.

Clarke said Johnson had decided not to bowl Wednesday to freshen himself for the second test. He backed the left-armer to bounce back to form after a poor first test in which he finished with figures of 0-170. Australia was in a commanding position in the series-opening test at Brisbane with a 221-run first-innings lead, but the bowling attack failed to make any inroads into England's second innings as the tourists amassed 517-1 to save the match. Johnson, who also dropped a catch, drew the ire of many frustrated Australian fans in the wake of the drawn first match.

"Mitch is fine. He's had a bat today. Again he wasn't bowling today, in preparation for the test, to allow his body to have a bit of a rest," Clarke said. "All of us face criticism throughout our career, sometimes more often than not, especially when you're not scoring as many runs or taking as many wickets as you'd like. But he's faced it before; I'm sure he'll face it again."

Clarke said Johnson was after another opportunity at Adelaide.

"If he gets his chance, I'm sure he'll grab it with both hands," Clarke said. AP