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Clarke grilled over captaincy

SYDNEY: Australian captain Michael Clarke on Wednesday said he still had plenty to offer the team as he was grilled over his captaincy after the side’s comprehensive 2-0 Test loss to Pakistan.

Clarke arrived home in Sydney in the wake of the team’s sixth straight defeat on the sub-continent to be faced with a barrage of questions over whether he remained the best man for the job.

“No, I would hope not,” he told reporters at the airport when asked if he was worried about no longer being the right man to lead the Test team.

“You know, obviously we didn’t perform as well as we would have liked in this series, but we did pretty well to beat the number one team in the world in their own conditions — South Africa — (in March).

“We did pretty well to win the Ashes 5-0. I hope I’m doing the team justice as their leader, as captain.

“But I guess the selectors make that decision and the Cricket Australia board make that decision.”

Clarke has averaged just 27.46 in his last 16 innings and managed just 2, 3, 47 and 5 in his four innings during Australia’s series loss to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

But his captaincy has not come into question until now.

“If they (Cricket Australia) think there’s someone better for the job, if they think my time is up as captain, then I’m sure they’ll let me know,” he added.

“But, from my perspective, I feel like I’ve still got a lot to offer the team.

“I think my performances over the past five years have been pretty consistent and I think my captaincy’s been pretty consistent over that period as well. So hopefully I’m not judged just on two Test matches.”

Earlier this week Clarke admitted his team had not learnt their lesson against spin after a 4-0 rout in India early last year and their mauling at the hands of Pakistan.

But he said his focus was now on the bumper Australian summer beginning, for him, with a five-match one-day series against South Africa starting on Friday week.

“I’ll be at the physio this afternoon. I’ll be training tomorrow morning. I’m keen to make some runs,” he said.

“In a week’s time, we’ve got a really important one-day series against South Africa so I see that as a positive; there’s a quick turnaround. We’re back on the field shortly.

“I know it’s a different format but Australian cricket winning in any format of the game is what’s important.

“As disappointed as I am, I think we need to put two Test matches into perspective.

“We’ve had a pretty good 12 months as a Test-playing team. If anything, this gives you more hunger to be successful.”

Australia, minus Clarke, face South Africa in a Twenty20 in Adelaide later Wednesday. (AFP)

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