Melbourne: Australia captain Michael Clarke enjoys watching Sachin Tendulkar bat but hoped that the Indian icon doesn`t score his much-awaited 100th international century during the upcoming four-match Test series, starting here on December 26.
"That`s (Tendulkar scoring his 100th international ton) certainly a prospect. I hope that doesn`t happen. I hope he scores it in his next series," said Clarke ahead of their first Test.
"He`s been an unbelievable player for such a long period of time. I really enjoy watching him bat. If he does score his 100th century, he deserves every bit of credit and applause.”
"I think it`s going to be a great crowd at this Test match, watching him and supporting him. I wish him well but in a perfect world, I`d like Sachin to score his 100th century in the next series India play," he added.
Clarke has showed that he is all ready for the Indians by announcing his playing XI for the first Test 48 hours in advance.
Opener Ed Cowan has been named in the final XI and is all to make his Test debut, while Ben Hilfenhaus` experience was preferred over Mitchell Starc`s raw promise. The out-of-form duo of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey have also been retained in the side.
"I`m confident we`ve got the best eleven to help us win this first Test in these conditions. I can use Hussey, Ponting and myself to bowl a few overs. David Warner can bowl leg-spinners too. We`ve got the right XI to give ourselves a chance to win this Test," insisted Clarke.
The captain, meanwhile, warned his teammates that aggression on the field should be within a limit and not result in ugly behaviour or controversy.
"I don`t think we need to (meet MS beforehand in order to ensure relations don`t break down during the series). I think both teams understand where we`re at. The relationship between the Aussie and Indian team couldn`t be stronger."
"We all understand there's a fine line you can go to but can't cross. I guarantee nobody in the Australian team will cross that. If they do, there'll be punishments from the ICC but also from Cricket Australia," clarified Clarke.
The 30-year-old skipper expressed confidence if Australia could play consistently for five days they would win the first Test.
"I think we are as well prepared as we can be. Now it's about getting out there and playing some good cricket. I think if we can be consistent and execute our skills for the whole five days, we'll win this Test match," he said.
Stating that he would want to bat first if he wins the toss, Clarke said, "My favourite thing to do when we win the toss, is always bat. But you can't make that decision unless you see the conditions on the day of the toss.”
"I'll wait and see what the wicket is like, see what the overhead conditions are like. I have no concerns if we bat first on that wicket. If there's a bit of movement, I'm confident we're ready for it.”
"It's important we play our natural game if we bat first. I think you must have the confidence to back your own ability. We've done plenty of work, so (if the batsmen stumble) it's not from lack of training," he added.
Clarke said he did not want his batsmen to be restrained if Australia bat first in tough conditions on the first day.
"I think the start of any Test match is crucial, whether you bat or bowl...we've spoken about that for a while now that you need to start well.”
"I make no bones about it, we've had extra (preparation) time as a batting unit because we needed to get better facing the new ball. We've done the work though. That's all I can ask from the boys. It'd make every single one of us very pleased and proud, if the ball is seaming around, we can play well --which we've done in periods," he explained.
"The moving ball, whether it's spin or swing, is the hardest to face as a batsman, no matter who it's against. English conditions probably allow that to happen more than Australian conditions, but in saying that whatever surface we get will be the same for both teams.”
"I think the key is consistency with everything we do, as a batting unit and a bowling unit, (and) execution of our skills. All you can do is prepare as well as you possibly can to give yourself the best chance and I think we've done that over the past six days now, whether it be as a batting unit or all together as a team," said Clarke.
Elaborating on why Hilfenhaus was preferred over Starc, Clarke said: "Hilf's endurance is a factor in his promotion. I think it plays a part definitely. He's a very good new ball bowler, he can bowl long spells and he's had success against India as well. So there's a few reasons why we decided to go with him.”
"Mitch (Starc) is obviously disappointed...he's got an enormous amount of talent. He's quite tall, fast and can swing the ball back into the right-hander. He's just got to keep working hard at his game.”
Clarke also clarified that Shaun Marsh has completely recovered.
"Marsh's back is fine. He's taken it easy...to make sure he's fully recovered and ready to go for the Boxing Day."
Speaking at length about James Pattinson and Nathan Lyon, Clarke said: "Patto (Pattinson) is very important. As we've seen over the past couple of Tests, he's come on in leaps and bounds. He bowls with good pace, can swing the ball and he's only as important as the other guys around him.”
"As for Nathan Lyon, I don't think he needs counselling. He's a wonderful talent...got to do things his way. We have got to make sure we bowl Nathan at the right times, set the right fields to give him a little bit of protection and then attack when it's time to attack."
Heaping praise on young Indian bowler Ravichandran Ashwin, Clarke said: "We've seen a fair bit of Ashwin, not too much in Test but in one-day cricket. He's very talented bowler, gets a lot of bounce, can spin the ball and has got a doosra so he can spin it the other way as well.”
"We've looked at plenty of his footage, we know he's an important part of the team and we have to play him well to have success in this series."
Clarke said he did not mind that he appeared to be less popular than Ponting when it comes to captaining the side.
"I'm not that concerned. It's about scoring runs and winning games. That's my job, that's what I'm trying to do. I hope I've earned a bit of respect. I've played 70-odd Test matches and scored a few hundreds for my country so I hope there's a bit of respect there already.”
"My goals are no different to any (other) series I've played. I want to go out there, lead from the front and make sure I'm performing with the bat. But, most importantly, I want Australian cricket to continue to head in the right direction. I want us to play some good cricket," he said.