Clarke: Enough talent in the team

22 July 2013

Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke believes the Australian squad has the talent to fight their way through their Ashes nightmare, amid calls for outside reinforcements.

Half centuries and a 98-run stand from Usman Khawaja and Michael Clarke, as well as more courage from the lower order led by James Pattinson (35), couldn't mask the fact that Australia had been obliterated in a 347-run defeat with a day to spare.

Only one team in Ashes history has fought back from 2-0 down to win a series, and Australia's batting woes seem far too entrenched to be fixed in the short-term.

SOS calls for Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting seemed fanciful before the series started, but after Australia's embarrassing first-innings collapse at Lord's, selectors could do worse than inject veteran stars who are still in run-scoring form on English soil.

Australia have now lost six Tests in a row and one more defeat will equal their worst-ever losing run.

The last time Australia dropped six on the trot, Kim Hughes quit his post as captain and broke down in tears when addressing the press.

Clarke, speaking after Australia's fourth consecutive Ashes loss, was asked whether he was headed down a similar path to Hughes.

"Presume nothing," he said, with his own emotion obvious.

Clarke said selectors would decide if extra players other than David Warner needed to be called in from the Australia A squad in Africa or indeed from a list of past Test greats.

But he said squad members would be backed to start the rescue mission in a tour match in Hove later this week, and suggested he'd like to see faith shown in the existing squad.

"We've got plenty of talent in this group we just have to make sure we're performing," Clarke said.

"... I would imagine the 11 players who take the field (against Sussex) will come from the Ashes squad that has been picked."

Clarke described Australia's batting as "unacceptable" but said the fact every player in the top seven, except opener Shane Watson who has a top score of 46, had made at least one half century this series suggested consistency and not lack of ability was the problem.

England's Joe Root (180) and Ian Bell (109, 74) taught Australia all about patience and batting for long periods at Lord's, as the home side grinded their rivals into the dirt by setting a mammoth second innings target of 583 early on day four.
Australia were bowled out three balls before stumps.

"What can I say? Our performance with the bat in the first innings was unacceptable," said Clarke.

"The wicket was very good for batting, we had a great opportunity and we let ourselves down.

"We've got plenty of experience in our top seven. We've seen already in this series that guys can score runs against this attack. Our shot selection was poor and we just didn't have the discipline that England had."

Don Bradman in 1936-37 scored double centuries in the third and fourth Tests and 169 in the deciding fifth, to turn a 2-0 deficit into a thrilling series win for Australia.

However, Clarke is the only superstar in this current line-up, and he can't stop England on his own.

Clarke was laughed at by the crowd during the post-match on-field ceremony when he suggested Australia could still win the series.

"I heard a lot of the crowd laugh when I said that and rightly so, given the position I sit in right now today," he said.

"... We need someone to go on and make a big hundred - as England have done."

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Khawaja and Clarke back in 2013 // Getty

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