Sydney: As Australia`s 43rd Test captain, Michael Clarke knows that it can be lonely at the top, and therefore, has spent the past fortnight on a self-imposed boot camp, pushing himself to run up deserted hills and to train more intensely than he has in the past to meet what he describes as the greatest challenge of his cricketing life.
According to news reports, Clarke knows that Australian cricket is once again at its nadir, 30 years after its last tumultuous leadership handover.
In 1984, Allan Border took over from a tearful Kim Hughes.
Now, Clarke has inherited the captaincy from a fading Ricky Ponting after successive Ashes failures and Australia has dropped to fifth in the Test rankings.
Clarke knows that it will take a vastly improved effort to arrest the current slide, and he is looking to the tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa later this year followed by a short home series against New Zealand and four Tests against white hot India.
As far as India is concerned, Clarke recalls that the last series between the two sides in Australia in 2007-08 was not a pleasant one for both sides.
"There are certain players in both teams who look back on what happened there and wish it didn`t happen. But you learn from that. There are so many things in your life that you learn from. For me as a player that`s one of them,” Clarke told a newspaper.
Despite the animosity of the time Clarke believes that Test and one-day series in India since and the mixing of many players from all nations in the IPL has created a greater understanding between Indian and Australian players.
"It (the IPL) has built relationships between players no doubt. Guys play against each other and then go to IPL and play with each other. I think that``s great for the game," said Clarke.
He also said that he still sees Ricky as the number one batsman in our team.
"We`ve got a lot of improving to do. Individually we want to become better players, and it is going to be challenging times as the captain of this team no doubt," he concludes.