Aussies must rise to SA challenge: Clarke

Australia captain Michael Clarke expects South Africa’s pace attack to ask tough questions of the home side this summer.

The Proteas’ trio of quicks – Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel – have been widely lauded following South Africa’s massive first Test win over England at the Oval last week.

The hosts fell to an innings and 12 runs defeat to South Africa in a Test where England could only manage two wickets to South Africa’s 20.

South Africa play Tests at the pace-friendly wickets of the Gabba and the WACA Ground this summer and Clarke is aware of the challenge that will await his batsmen.

“It’ll be as fast as you’ll face in world cricket in those conditions. Fast and bouncy,” Clarke told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

“You’ve got to combat it, that’s part of playing international cricket.”

But rather than cower in fear, Clarke has challenged his own fast bowling stocks to out-perform their vaunted opponents to ensure Australia can continue its quest to regain the world’s No.1 ranking.

“I don’t really care what their team is doing to be honest,” Clarke said.

“I care that we’re doing exactly what we did against India. Our bowlers in general are taking 20 wickets and our batters are putting lots of runs on the board.”

With the South Africa series to be followed by a visit from Sri Lanka and then an away series against India before back-to-back Ashes campaigns, Clarke says the next two years will be as big as they get in his captaincy.

“It’s going to be tough,” he said.

“The Australian summer, then we go play Test matches in India and then we’ve got Ashes away and home.

“The next 15 months don’t get any harder as an international cricketer.”

What’s first though is a one-day campaign against Pakistan in the Middle East, with Clarke and his teammates keen to erase the demons from their disastrous one-day tour of England in a pre-tour camp in Darwin next week.

“We know there’s areas we need to improve,” Clarke said of the 4-0 drubbing in England.

“They’ve been addressed and we’ll look to improve them.

“Our goals haven’t changed in regards to being number one in all three forms of the game and I guess Darwin’s a good example in that we’re going up there to prepare for the bi-series against Pakistan.

“It’s going to be hot over in Dubai and the conditions in Darwin are as hot as we can possibly get for preparation.”

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