Clarke out to break barren Test run

Monday, 29 August 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

AAP: Fresh from a century in the practice match in Sri Lanka, Michael Clarke wants to lead by example when he begins his first Test series as Australia cricket captain on Wednesday.

Clarke hasn’t made three figures at Test level since 168 against New Zealand in Wellington - 10 matches and 19 innings ago in March 2010.

Since taking over as captain, Clarke has scored a century in April’s one-day series in Bangladesh and scored 242 runs including two half-centuries in the recently ended one-day campaign in Sri Lanka.

After scoring 104 on Saturday in the drawn match against a Sri Lanka Board XI at P Sara Oval, Clarke admitted it was time to make big scores once more at Test level.

“I know I need to be leading from the front, put it that way, especially now that I’m captain,” he told reporters.

“My form hasn’t been as good as I would like in Test cricket.

“I’ve always said Test cricket is the ultimate to me, the pinnacle, and I want to be at my best.

“I couldn’t ask for better preparation but now I’ve got to do it when it counts.

“No disrespect to the game (practice match), it’s important to make runs every time I bat but I’d prefer a hundred in the first Test.”

Aside from his own form, Clarke was a happy man following the hit-out in Colombo with NSW pair Trent Copeland and Usman Khawaja putting their hands up for Test selection.

Medium-pacer Copeland pushed for a Test debut with 5-47 in the first innings and claimed another wicket in the unfinished second innings in a solid first display in Australian colours.

“It definitely puts him in the frame,” Clarke said. “I have to wait and see conditions (in Galle) but I think he’s done everything in his power to put his hand up. “He got a few of the players out who are going to be playing in the first Test, so that obviously helps.

“And I like that he hasn’t come in and tried to do too much. “He’s done what he’s been doing for NSW for the last few years now.

“I think that takes courage as a first-class player when you come into the Australian team to not try and do anything different.”

Khawaja scored 101 on Friday to seemingly put himself ahead of Shaun Marsh in the battle for the vacant No.6 spot in the batting line-up.

But Clarke didn’t rule out the West Australian making his debut despite Khawaja’s knock.

“Another one who grabbed a hold of his opportunity and that’s all you can do,” Clarke said.

“I also thought SOS (Marsh) did in that first one-dayer he played, when he made 70 and creamed them.

“We’ve got to have a real good think about the position. “Uzzie’s opened the batting here and he played his Test at No3 for Punter (former captain Ponting), but in saying that what more can you do? “It doesn’t matter where you bat - you get an opportunity and try and make a big score and that’s exactly what he’s done.

“It’s going to be an interesting couple of days.” The Australians travelled south to Galle on Sunday and will train at the venue Monday and Tuesday. The second Test will be played in Kandy with the third and final match being played in Colombo.