Sydney: Captain Michael Clarke has defended the tactical decision to not promote himself in the Australia batting order to replace retired Ricky Ponting at number four for the first Test against Sri Lanka at Bellerive Oval on Friday. Former Test captain Ian Chappell called on Clarke, Test cricket``s No.2-ranked batsman, to show his true qualities as a leader by moving up the order to lead Australia``s batting in the post-Ponting era.
Clarke has been Australia``s best batsman since assuming the captaincy 16 months ago, blasting 1931 runs at 71.5. Clarke said he considered a promotion, but has backed the recalled Phillip Hughes and all-rounder Shane Watson to handle the No. 3 and No. 4 slots. “I thought long and hard about it,” News.com.au quoted Clarke, as saying. “But at this stage I guess Mickey Arthur (coach) and myself feel that how the order is for this Test match with Hughesy at three, Watto at four, myself at five and Michael Hussey at six is our best line-up to have success in this Test match and hopefully for the series,” he added.
“As a young player I batted No. 4 for NSW my whole career. I always as a kid wanted to bat No. 4 for Australia. I guess the older you get and the wiser you get, you work out and realise that the number is irrelevant where you bat,” he said. Clarke further added: “The strength and the advantage that we have in our top four now is that all four have opened the batting for Australia, so against the new ball they``ll be very well-suited. If I bat three or four or five it doesn``t bother me ... it``s about having success and helping the team win.” Statistics support Clarke``s decision to stay at third drop, as the skipper has amassed 5244 runs at 63.18 and 18 of his 21 Test centuries have come batting at No.5, and by contrast, the 31-year-old averages just 20.93 from 28 Test innings at No.4.