Clarke helped by rest, says Watson

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Michael Clarke’s month-long injury absence is set to prove more blessing than curse when he leads Australia into the Test series against the West Indies this weekend.

Impressed by his ball striking, vice-captain Shane Watson believes the break has only served to freshen up a champion batsman in career-best form after a run-laden but tiring home summer.

Returning from a hamstring strain, skipper Clarke hit some crisp pull shots in a comfortable innings of 30 in the three-day tour match in Bridgetown.

“He batted beautifully from the outset yesterday and today,” Watson said on Tuesday.

“I think Pup (Clarke) is in the form of his life so a couple of weeks off is just going to freshen him up more than anything.

“I’ve got no concerns and I’m sure he wouldn’t either just because of the way he’s hitting the ball.”

While Clarke’s knock was probably not as long as he’d have liked, he showed no signs of his hamstring issue and Watson believes time in the middle is not something his captain needed after his summer of domination.

The 30-year-old, who has made a hundred in each of his four series as Test captain, amassed an amazing 626 runs in four home Tests against India with two centuries, including his remarkable 329no in Sydney.

And Watson believes Clarke’s confidence levels will ensure he’s more than ready to jump straight back into the Test arena at Kensington Oval for the first Test starting on Saturday.

Australia’s batsmen got a taste of the slow and spin-friendly wickets they are likely to face in the three Tests against the Windies during their tour-match with WICB President’s XI.

Spin duo Ryan Austin and Nkrumah Bonner took three wickets each in Australia’s 9(dec)-214 before Australian spinner Nathan Lyon chipped in with four wickets of his own as the hosts were rolled for 98.

But despite only Peter Forrest passing 50 in Australia’s first innings, Watson feels the tourists are ready for whatever will be thrown at them in the first Test.

“So far most batters have had enough time in the middle to get their head around what their game plans are going to be on these types of wickets,” he said.

© AAP 2014
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