Marathon man Michael Clarke targets victory and respect

Sydney: Australia captain Michael Clarke is naturally hoping his biggest ever Test score will set up a second Test victory over India but he would also like it to garner him a little more respect.

The 30-year-old, who was booed onto the pitch at Australian grounds last year, hit a brilliant 251 not out on Wednesday to help put his side 291 runs ahead of the tourists with six first-innings wickets in hand and three days to play.

Looking exhausted after batting all day and perhaps aware that he will resume his innings on Thursday morning, Clarke cut an unusually subdued and businesslike figure when he spoke to the media.

"Hopefully it helps me continue to earn respect," he told reporters.

"That`s all I can do. Most importantly it puts this team in another good position to win another Test match. That`s our goal, that`s my goal to help Australia win as many games as I can.”

"It`s fantastic to have a score like I do but if you don`t win the Test match it means nothing," he added.

Clarke has long been a divisive figure in Australia with many resenting his transformation from a working class boy from Sydney`s western suburbs to a more cosmopolitan figure, ubiquitous in adverts and the media.

He has always said that he could not force people to change their opinions of him but would continue to play as well as he could for his country and hope that would make a difference.

Clarke, who retains the nickname `pup` from the days when he was an enthusiastic youngster first breaking into the Australia team, succeeded Ricky Ponting as captain last year after the 50-over World Cup.

Since then, there have been ups and plenty of downs for Australia but Clarke`s own form has been extremely good and Wednesday`s century was his fourth in the nine Tests since he took charge.

"One of the things Punter (Ponting) taught me before I got the captaincy was as a leader, you need to make sure you`re standing up on the field," he said. "You need to make sure you`re leading from the front and scoring runs."

His record partnership of 288 with Ponting has put Australia in with an excellent chance of taking a 2-0 lead in the four-match series after a 122-run victory in Melbourne but Clarke was taking nothing for granted.

"When you get chances in a game you`ve got to grab it with both hands," he said. "If India get on top of you they`re really a hard team to stop. We`ve got momentum and we`ve got to keep the ball rolling."

Bureau Report