SYDNEY, (Reuters) – Michael Clarke got an idea of the sort of scrutiny he will be subject to as Australia captain over the weekend but said yesterday his appointment to the post had not yet properly sunk in.
Clarke assumed the role, often described as the second most important in Australia after that of prime minister, last Wednesday and was surprised by the media attention paid to his 30th birthday celebrations on Saturday.
His first task as skipper is three one-day internationals in Bangladesh and Clarke thought it would not be until the first match in Dhaka on Saturday that he would properly realise his new status.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in just yet but I’m excited,” he told reporters at Sydney airport before the squad’s departure yesterday morning.
“When I take the field and I guess have the chance to walk out first in front of the team it’ll probably sink in then.”
Despite having stood in for predecessor Ponting for the last Ashes test and the one-day series against England that followed, Clarke admitted it would also take time for the players to get used to his style as skipper.
“I think for me it’s about being open, letting the guys know that if there’s anything they need anytime 24-7 they can knock on my door or they can call me,” he added.
“And I just want to give everybody the freedom to be who they are and play the cricket that they love playing.”
Clarke again reiterated that he could foresee no problem leading the side with Ponting in the ranks and had clearly taken on board one central tenet of captaincy — not underestimating your opponents.
“It’s going to be a tough tour no doubt and I think the conditions will certainly suit Bangladesh,” he said.
“I’d imagine they’ll prepare pretty slow, turning wickets and they’ve got some very good spinners, especially left-arm orthodox spinners which with a lot of right handed batters in our line-up they’re going to be quite tough.
“But it’s going to be a good challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”
As for the pictures and video of him celebrating his birthday, which were published and broadcast over the weekend, Clarke said it would not distract him from the task at hand.
“I had a great day, it was really enjoyable and for me it’s just about getting on with it,” he said.
“My focus is here, my focus is on getting to Bangladesh and playing some good cricket and I think the public’s focus is pretty similar.
“I don’t think they want to read about what I do on my birthday.”
The three matches all take place in Dhaka on April 9, 11 and 13.