Clarke excited by new blood


Australian Test captain Michael Clarke said Thursday he was excited by the new blood in his squad to face Sri Lanka this month. Four uncapped players have been included in the 15-strong line-up for the three-Test tour, including pacemen Trent Copeland and James Pattinson, spinner Nathan Lyon and batsman Shaun Marsh.
South Australian offspinner Lyon was picked after just four first-class games, with the 23-year-old impressing on the just-completed Australia A tour of Zimbabwe. Clarke has yet to meet him but they have spoken on the phone. “He’s got an opportunity to grab it with both hands and, by all reports, I’m pretty confident he’ll do that, so he’s certainly got a lot of talent,” Clarke said as he prepared leave for Colombo. “Now it’s about giving him a go and seeing how he handles playing cricket for Australia.” Clarke is leading the team in his first Test series as full-time captain on the tour from August 6 to September 20, which also includes two Twenty20 matches and five one-dayers. “I love the fact we’ve got some new fresh faces that are excited and itching for their opportunity. I think that’s a great thing to have around the group,” he said. “But the facts are we have to have some success, we have to play good cricket, we have to improve from our recent results throughout the last Australian summer. “We need to get better, and we know that as players, and I can guarantee we’re working as hard as I’ve ever worked in my career, so hopefully we can turn that around sooner rather than later.” Australia head into the Test series fifth in the world rankings, one place below Sri Lanka. “I really hope we can turn things around straight away. I think it is going to take time for us to work our way back up the rankings,” Clarke added. The Test series opens in Galle from August 31 with following Tests in Kandy from September 8 and Colombo from September 16.