Australian skipper Michael Clarke has challenged his top-order batsmen to start delivering on their promise in the tour of the Caribbean.
Australia’s inability to deliver a big score in the West Indies has been carried from the limited overs arena to the Test scene as Ed Cowan (14), David Warner (42) and Shane Watson (39) all failed to build on starts during the first innings of the opening Test in Barbados on Monday.
Clarke’s own 73 – the highest score by an Australian on the tour so far including the five one-dayers and two Twenty20s played last month – was still not satisfactory as far as the captain was concerned.
He believed he’d let the team down by getting out when well-set, a situation he knows must change if the team is to overcome a vibrant and confident West Indies team.
“I think the key is once you get in to cash in,” Clarke told reporters, after Australia finished 5-248, still trailing the Windies’ first innings 9-449 declared by 201 runs.
“That’s why I’m so disappointed at getting out when I did.
“Once you’re in you’ve got to make the most of it. You’ve got to go on and make big scores.
“We as a batting group need to accept that it’s going to take a long time to score runs. It’s a lot different to Australia where you can go out there and cream the ball and hit plenty of boundaries.”
Since taking over the captaincy no-one can complain about Clarke’s ability to convert, the right-hander having scored five centuries so far in 12 Tests as skipper.
Middle-order veterans Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are also both coming off an India Test series where their ability to bat time and post big scores was unquestioned.
The players that need to heed the lesson most is that top three of Warner, Cowan and Watson.
Warner at least has two Test hundreds to his name in his short career but converting after a start has long been a criticism levelled at Watson – who has only passed 100 the same number of times as Warner having played 26 more Tests.
Cowan is also yet to reach three figures in five Tests as an Australian opener despite a string of starts – not that Clarke is advocating changes just yet.
“I think we’ve got a very strong batting line-up,” Clarke said.
“I think we’ve got guys batting in the right spots, we’ve just got to continue to perform as well as we possibly can no matter what the conditions are like.
“We’ve got to keep trying to find ways to adjust and to play well.”