Clarke calls for focus
Michael Clarke has called for focus as he prepares to lead Australia in a Test series for the first time in Sri Lanka in August.
Last Updated: 11/06/11 2:02pm
Michael Clarke says his side must only focus on themselves as he prepares to captain Australia in a Test series for the first time when they travel to Sri Lanka in August.
Clarke takes over from Ricky Ponting when Australia travel to Sri Lanka for two Twenty20 matches, five one-day internationals and three Test matches in August and September.
A tour of South Africa then follows in October and November, before the Aussies return home to play host to New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka.
Clarke is currently in training at Coffs Harbour ahead of the tour, and he wants his team to just focus on themselves and not the teams they are set to face away from home.
"They (Sri Lanka) are always a strong team, especially in their own conditions," he said.
"I think for us right now our focus has got to be on ourselves and we've got to make sure we prepare as well as we possibly can, make sure we get our skills to the level they need to be and the guys are nice and fit and ready to play in tough, hot conditions.
"No doubt we're playing two of the toughest teams in the world in their own conditions in Sri Lanka and South Africa so we have to be at our best but I'm really confident with the talent we have in our squads. I'm looking forward to what lies ahead."
Clarke finds himself in charge of a team very much in need of rebuilding, with Australia occupying an unfamiliar fifth place in the ICC Test rankings.
Sri Lanka are ranked fourth in Test cricket, while South Africa are second behind India.
Clarke did not comment on Simon Katich's axing from Cricket Australia's playing contracts list on Tuesday, but the captain is looking forward to seeing fast bowlers Ryan Harris and James Pattinson in action.
"He played the IPL and bowled really well, as he does. He's an amazing talent and it's great to see him still a big part of the Australian cricket team," Clarke said.
"Hopefully, if his body holds up he'll be playing a lot of Test cricket for us."
Clarke is also confident new bowling coach Craig McDermott will get the most out of Australia's fast-bowling brigade.
Pattinson, 21, was the second youngest player of the 25 given contracts, behind 18-year-old New South Welshman Patrick Cummins.
"He made the most of his opportunity over in Bangladesh. He's a great kid who works really hard," Clarke said of the Victorian.
"I'm hearing good reports about how he trained during the IPL and what he's doing now back in Victory. I spoke to him recently and I know he's very excited about his chance to play for Australia again."
The first Twenty20 against Sri Lanka is at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy on August 6.