Michael Clarke willing to take time to get to the top

Australia have fallen at No 5 in Test table, but their Test captain is excited about the future as he leads a young and inexperienced side against Sri Lanka.

SYDNEY // Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, said his young team leave for their tour of Sri Lanka determined to work their way up the world Test rankings, but acknowledges it will take some time.

Clarke was among the five players in the 15-man Test squad who left Australia on Thursday. The other 10 were already part of the Twenty20 or limited-overs international squads which left last month.

Australia have slipped from No 1 to No 5 in the world Test rankings, one place below Sri Lanka.

"I really hope we can turn things around straight away. It is going to take time for us to work our way back up the rankings," Clarke told reporters at Sydney Airport.

The Australians travel to Sri Lanka for three Tests, then have a series in South Africa before hosting New Zealand and India in Test series starting in December.

The Test squad include the uncapped pacemen Trent Copeland and James Pattinson, the spinner Nathan Lyon and the batsman Shaun Marsh, all hoping to push for places in the 11.

Australia are still No 1 in the one-day international (ODI) rankings and will play five limited-overs matches in Sri Lanka, along with two Twenty20 games.

Clarke said he was optimistic the new spin pair of Lyons and Michael Beer will perform well in Sri Lankan conditions.

"It's good to have two different spinners as a bowling partnership in tandem. They can really work well together," said Clarke, who is yet to meet Lyons.

"He's got an opportunity to grab it with both hands and, by all reports, I'm pretty confident he'll do that, so he's certainly got a lot of talent," Clarke said. "Now it's about giving him a go and seeing how he handles playing cricket for Australia."

Clarke said the inclusion of so many rookies was positive.

"I love the fact we've got some new fresh faces that are excited and itching for their opportunity," he said.

"But the facts are we have to have some success, we have to play good cricket, we have to improve from our recent results.

"We need to get better and we know that as players, and I can guarantee we're working as hard as I've ever worked in my career, so hopefully we can turn that around sooner rather than later."

Australia play Twenty20 matches tomorrow and on Monday, before the ODIs on August 10, 14, 16, 20 and 22.

The first Test will begin at Galle from August 31 followed by matches at Kandy from September 12 and Colombo from September 20.

Clarke will be in charge of the Test squad for the first time since replacing Ricky Ponting, the No 3 batsman who stood down as the Australia captain following their World Cup quarter-final defeat to India, the eventual champions, in March.

Published: August 5, 2011 04:00 AM


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