Chennai, Feb 15: Australian captain Michael Clarke Friday said he was surprised with the exclusion of Gautam Gambhir from India’s Test squad and said his bowlers are happy that the aggressive opening batsman was not playing in the series.
“I expected him (Gambhir) to be in the Test team. He is a wonderful player and has played for India for a long time now. I think there are a few bowlers in our team who are happy he is not playing,” Clarke told reporters here on the eve of their second and final warm-up game against India A, that will be led by Gambhir.
Clarke backed Gambhir to reclaim his place in the Test side soon.
“He is a wonderful guy and I really like him and I get along really well with him. If he scores runs, I’m sure he will get his chance with the Indian team again,” he said.
Clarke, unlike past Australian captains, doesn’t believe in mind games and said on-field performances matter the most.
“It’s not about what you say. It’s about what you do. As a player, as the Australian cricket team, that’s our goal. It’s no good making statements and comments and not backing them up. I’d rather want people to say less and do more, so that’s our goal. Perform well on the field, that’s all we want.”
Asked about his role in combatting Indian spinners, Clarke said: “Reputation is irrelevant, to be honest, especially when it’s my reputation. I start on zero like everybody else. My last tour to India wasn’t anywhere near as successful as I would have liked. I really enjoy the challenge of facing spin but it still gets me out, like it does every player.
“I’ll tick every box off the field in terms of preparation and training and then I will go in and enjoy myself.”
On the strengths and weaknesses of his team, Clarke said: “Australian team has no weaknesses at all (Laughs). I don’t think it will be right for me to sit here and tell you what the Australian team’s strengths and weaknesses are and I don’t think it will be fair to give you the Indian team’s strengths and weaknesses either.
“We have to be really focussed just on us and on the areas we need to get better at and not worry too much about our opposition.”
Clarke said the Australian team, which is short in experience, will be focussed on performing as an unit.
“When you look at the team now compared to when I first came in, we had so many experienced players, so many great players; probably seven or eight players in the team when I made my debut were as good as any seven or eight players in the world. We are a lot less experienced now.
“Yes, every one of us has the same goals, the same commitment, the same work ethic. We know that to be successful, we need to perform well as a team. It’s not about individuals making a hundred or a two hundred or taking five wickets. That’s not going to give us the success we want over a long period,” he said.