India-Australia ties are more intense now: Michael Clarke

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KOLKATA: A chronic back problem forced Michael Clarke to call time on a remarkable career when he was just 34. Regarded as the best player of spin in the Australian team during his time, Clarke has since embarked upon a new career as a television pundit. The former Australian captain spoke about all things cricket during an exclusive chat with TOI on Tuesday.

Excerpts:

  • The India-Australia rivalry seems to have usurped the space left behind by lack of bilateral cricket between India and Pakistan. How do you see this rivalry shaping up?

    Being an Australian, I have relished the battle for the Ashes with England, but having played against India in India and also back home, I can tell you that an India-Australia series is no different. The contests have become more intense, as you would expect when two top teams in the world go hard at each other. Also, with top Australian players spending so much time in India because of IPL, I expect more great contests in future.

  • Do you reckon that for India-Australia rivalry to assume greater significance, India need to win a big series in Australia and vice-versa?

    I think the biggest challenge for all international teams, including India and Australia, is to win overseas. All international teams are increasingly becoming hard to beat in home conditions, but struggle to win abroad. To be a stand out team, one has to perform consistently well in all conditions.

    How do you rate the current Indian team?

India are the No.1 Test side in the world. They are a very good team. They have a huge opportunity as they are slated to play South Africa, England and Australia abroad over the next 15 months. If they win those three series, they will certainly rank as a great outfit – perhaps one of the best-ever Indian sides.

  • Do you agree that the shorter formats of the game have adversely affected Test cricket with so many top players opting out of the longest format?
    I don’t quite agree. What is happening is a lot of senior players are opting out of the longer format at the back end of their careers. AB de Villiers has played over 100 Tests. JP Duminy too has been around for a while. I haven’t heard of a junior player who doesn’t want to play Test cricket. I think the shorter formats, including the T20 franchise leagues, have contributed enormously to the growth of the game. Without T20 cricket, we might not have seen a David Warner or a Hardik Pandya.

    Conventionally, the route to Test cricket was through first-class matches. What do you think of the latest trend where cricketers are graduating to from T20 to ODIs to Test cricket?

    I see nothing wrong with that. It sure is another option. My numbers in first-class cricket were not great, but I did well in the shorter format which earned me Test selection.

    If you were the Indian captain where would you bat MS Dhoni, keeping in mind the 2019 World Cup?

    I would prefer to have Dhoni batting at No. 5. With Virat Kohli at No. 3 and Dhoni at No. 5, the youngsters in the team can bat around them

  • You were regarded as the best player of spin in the Australian team. Are you amused by all the ‘spin talk’ in the ongoing ODI series?

I think most Australian players are not picking Kuldeep Yadav. Look, the key to play spin bowling is to pick which way the ball is going. The best way is to read it early from the bowler’s hand. There wasn’t one spinner I couldn’t pick out of their hand, Murali and Warnie included. The idea is to keep watching the ball as closely as you can. As they say, you’ve got to see it to hit it.

  • How do you see this series panning out?

I think Australia can still win the series, but for that they need to find a way to win in Kolkata. The conditions here should suit them

Source:- Times Of India

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