Sydney: At 35, former Australian fast bowler Stuart Clark believes that the National Selection Panel (NSP) headed by Andrew Hilditch has treated him harshly. He believes that his skinny Test average of 23.86 has been overshadowed by his age.
Clark, who lost his Cricket Australia contract at the last round of negotiations, said no one had told him the date on his birth certificate was the reason he hadn’t been selected for Australia since his last Test against England 14 months ago.
However, he cited the make-up of recent pace attacks as clear indication the selectors had decided to focus on youth.
“I’m 35. No one has said that to me but it’s evident they [the selectors] want young guys. I’m very real about it. If they pick me, I’d love to play for Australia - but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. So be it,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Clark, as saying.
Clark was a late bloomer who burst onto the Test arena in 2006 when, at 30, he was named player of the Test series against South Africa after taking 20 wickets at 15.75.
He maintains his fitness isn’t a problem after having fully recovered from an elbow injury. And his statistics stack up favourably against the players in line for selection.
His 24 Tests make him currently the second-most experienced bowler behind Mitchell Johnson. Johnson as the leading wicket-taker only surpasses him, while Doug Bollinger and two-Test player Ryan Harris have slightly better averages.
Pace ace Brett Lee, who stepped down from cricket’s long form to concentrate on the modified formats, hailed Clark a “must” to help provide Australia’s Ashes attack with a steadying influence?
“You know what you get with Stuart Clark. His action isn’t going to be erratic and his record is very good, with his [Test] average around 23. If Stuart is keen and able to play Test cricket, he should. His arm is well, he’s bowling fast again,” Lee said.
Clark, who is captain of NSW, said he’d trained hard during the off-season and fitness wouldn’t be an issue should he need to pull his baggy green cap out of storage.