Hyderabad: A distraught Michael Clarke will promote himself up the order in the remaining two Tests against India, saying his team`s "unacceptable" batting performances has left him with no other choice.
Clarke was livid on his team`s shambolic performance in the first two matches against India, terming the visitors first innings score of 237 in the second Test which ended here today, as "unacceptable" since the pitch was best for batting on the opening day.
Such has been the impact of those two heavy defeats that Clarke openly admitted that he has been left with no choice than to come up the order from his customary No. 5 position.
"I think I have no choice. Again, it hasn`t been about me, it`s about trying to do what`s best for the team, and I think now, especially in these conditions, I have to bat higher," he said.
"I`ve got nine days to work it out. Wherever I can go and put some runs on the board to help the team," a visibly dejected Clarke said at the post-match media conference after India crushed Australia by an innings and 135 runs in the second Test to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
"Our batting has been unacceptable in the first two Test matches. I`m more concerned about our first innings performances than our second innings, mainly because we won both the tosses and the wicket has been at its best both times to bat but 237 was unacceptable."
The anger was evident in every word that Clarke said. "I think you know very well what I thought. It`s probably more polite of me by not putting it into words. It`s obviously unacceptable. Very disappointing. I certainly don`t want to take any credit away from India. I thought they played very well, they showed us once again how to bat in these conditions, they showed us once you get in how to go on and cash in and make a big score," he said.
Asked how his team planned to come out of this phase, Clarke replied, "Lots of hard work. I know you don`t get better as a player by sitting on the couch and doing nothing. We`re fortunate in regards to having eight or nine days before the third Test. We`ve got a lot of hard work to do."
More than losing, it is the manner of defeats that has hurt the Australian skipper and he confessed it when asked whether it was the toughest day as captain.
"They`re always tough when you lose. They`re even tougher when you perform like that. I don`t want to compare it to any other day. At the end of the day, our performances in these two Test matches have been unacceptable, certainly nowhere near the standard we are trying to set as an Australian cricket team," Clarke said.
"There are plenty of people that not only watch us on TV but fly around the world to support us and watch us and we know we`ve let them down," he said.
Clarke said that he is "hopeful" that everyone in the Australian dressing room is disappointed with the manner they had performed in the series so far.
"Yes there`s disappointment. I hope everyone in that change room feels disappointed and feels like they have let a lot of people down who do support us. But we need to turn it around. As much as you should feel that disappointment, it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible so you can get better.
"But looking at the first Test compared to how we batted in the second Test, whatever we learnt, we certainly didn`t display and that`s very disappointing," he said.
What was disturbing for Clarke was that "they all let each other down."
"I think in the first two Test matches, we`ve let each other down. That`s the most disappointing thing for me. At stages, we`ve got out to let our partner down. We`ve bowled bad overs which let`s your bowling partner down as well. We`ve dropped catches to let the bowlers down. As a team, we`re letting each other down and that`s the most disappointing thing," the touring skipper said.
Questioned on whether there will be a change in strategy, Clarke said, "I don`t think it changes too much. My goal is to win every game we play. I`ll be doing exactly the same in the third and fourth Test. We`ll be doing everything we can to try and win. We know we have to win the next two Test matches, to level the series. But that doesn`t really change too much because we only play to win anyway."
Patience is the key to success in the sub-continent and Clarke admitted that they should take a cue from Indian batsmen.
"To work out what the right way to score runs in these conditions is crucial. India have shown us that in the first two Test matches, especially in this Test. You look at the first session of India leading up to lunch, I think they scored 50 runs in the session. But they had the discipline and the patience to bat long periods of time because they knew as the game went on, second session, third session, they would catch up.
"It gets easier. It does. That`s the fun part about batting. You do the work at the start of your innings, you get the reward at the end of your innings. At the moment, our shot selection has been horrible," Clarke insisted.
On the pitches offering turn, Clarke said, "I don`t think pitches were bad. I think both wickets have been good Test cricket wickets and we just haven`t performed well enough, it`s as simple as that."
Being the best player of spin bowling in the Australian side, Clarke might have to lead the way but he begs to differ.
"It can`t be about one person. I`ve never played cricket that way and I don`t want this team to go to that. We have enough talent, but we have to get better, every single one of us. I would have liked more runs in the first innings and more runs today in the second innings. So I have work to do as well. I don`t want it to be about the individuals, I want it to be about the whole team improving."
Clarke was unaware whether Shane Watson is having any problems as he has now failed in four successive innings.
"I don`t know the answer to that, I`m not sure. You probably have to ask Watto (Watson) that question. I`m there to help him like every single batter, if there are areas he wants help. I`m there to support him. He`s a very good player, he`s a senior player in our team and like all of us, we need to be scoring more runs," Clarke said.
"But I certainly don`t want to single Watto out and be having a shot at him. Our top six batters have not performed anywhere near as good as we need to. It`s not about one player."
The veteran of 91 Tests reckons that being angry at his players won`t be of any help.
"Well, I don`t know ... There are times ... I don`t think me being angry is going to help. I am responsible as well. I`m no different to any other player. I should have scored more runs today. It`s not segregated like that, it`s us, we`re all together. We all need to be performing better," Clarke said.
About the delivery from Ravindra Jadeja that got him out, he said, "Well bowled. I wish I hit it. It wasn`t a bad ball, it was a pretty good delivery, but good players find a way to keep that out, they find a way to stick the pad in the way or get an edge and keep it on the ground. I have to do that, I have to find a way to keep a good delivery out."
First Published: Tuesday, March 05, 2013, 17:05