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North wants to chip in with bat before ball

Leeds: He may have picked up six wickets in the just completed Lord`s Test against Pakistan, but Australian middle order batsman Marcus North still sees himself as a batting all-rounder almost 18 months after making his debut, and wants that aspect of his cricket to count.

North`s 16-Test career can legitimately be characterised as having produced either feast or famine with the bat. He has an average of 40.2 despite half his innings ending without passing 10.

The 30-year-old was frank in conceding the record was an issue for him and the team.

Without a doubt the first 20 to 30 balls are pretty important ... my record shows it`s very important for me and it`s something that I`m very aware of. I obviously missed out in the first innings ... but I got 20 [in the second], so normally I get under 10 [when I fail], a newspaper quoted North, as saying.

"Jokes aside, I`ve felt that I came off a really good series against New Zealand, had a good break from cricket and am really ready to go, feeling really good about my game - and felt good with that 20 but obviously disappointed to get out after a start," he added.

"Don`t get me wrong, I certainly don`t think I`m a No.1 spinner or anything like that, but I feel comfortable in the role I can play for Australia. I feel [when] given the ball I can contribute. I`m not just there as a [part-timer], I feel I can genuinely be a wicket-taking option and complement the other bowlers around me," he said.

The left-hander rejected the suggestion his apparent weakness within the first hour of an innings was due to nerves.

North said: "I don`t think it`s a nerves thing - I`m no more nervous than anybody else," he said. "It`s a good question. It`s something I`ve been trying to work on my whole career I guess. It`s not just since I`ve been playing for Australia, it`s been my whole first-class career."

"Consistency`s a big thing for me and I`m working very, very hard at that, working at ways to make sure whenever I start my innings it`s just as consistent as the last time. The first 20 or 30 balls is important, certainly in my game," he added.

North`s propensity for big scores in the Sheffield Shield, in which he has 15 centuries, contributed to his appointment as captain of Western Australia. The left-hander`s 11 seasons with the Warriors rank him among Australia`s most experienced players in domestic cricket.

Asked about that period, North said it had provided him with a great grounding for the on-field requirements of Test cricket but little readiness for its off-field demands.

"The cricket at first-class level in Australia is second to none and that prepares you very well."

North said he would take confidence from having scored 110 in his only innings at Headingley, against England last year.

"Hopefully I can contribute with a big score with the bat instead of with the ball," he said.

ANI

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