Calcutta: The Australians have always considered a tour to India as one of the most challenging assignments. For Steve Waugh, it was 'the final frontier.' For current captain Michael Clarke, it is "as tough a challenge as I've had in my career".
Before leaving for India with the final batch of players, Clarke, during a media conference, admitted that his team were aware of the difficult job at hand, but at the same time were ready for it.
The following are excerpts
On the challenges in India
Touring India is as tough a challenge as I've had in my career. Every time I've been there on a Test tour, it's been extremely difficult, hence the Australian team hasn't won that much over there. So it's a huge challenge, the players know that. That's partly why we're trying to prepare as well as we can by sending players early to get them used to conditions, to give ourselves the best chance. We know it's going to be tough, we know how good India is, but we look forward to it.
His personal preparation
What I've learned in the past is how important preparation is for my personal performance. I need to make sure I've done all my training to give myself the best chance of scoring runs. That's what I'm looking forward to over the next few days. Getting into the Indian conditions, batting on those wickets, facing a lot of reverse swing, a lot of spin bowling, and making sure when that first ball's bowled in that first Test, I'll be as well prepared as I was for this summer.
Whether he has recovered from his hamstring injury
I m feeling much better. I've had four days now of recovery, rehab and a lot of physio. I'm certainly on the mend and I've got some time when I arrive in India to get myself 100 per cent fit as well. Look, there is so much time I don't think there is any doubt I'll be fit for the first Test. I'll need to communicate with Alex (Kountouris, the physio) to see what is the best preparation leading up to that Test.
If he would play the second warm-up game, against India A
I'd really like to play the three-dayer. I'll be advised by Alex once I land in India, but at this stage my plan is to play that three-dayer. There is so much time I don't think there is any doubt I'll be fit for the first Test. In my mind cricket-wise I feel like I need that game to spend some time in the middle in Indian conditions both batting and bowling, but also with my captaincy as well because India is such a different place to Australia. But I'll listen to the expert and see what he has to say.
Whether Shane Watson would open the innings
Ed (Cowan), like (David) Warner, had a really good summer and put their hand up against the No.1 Test team in the world (South Africa), so I think it's a really positive sign that we've got so many options in our squad. Obviously, Shane needs to come back into the line-up. It's a lot different now that Watto is not bowling. As an all-rounder, I think he walks into any team. As a batsman, there is a much bigger pool of players, so we've got to work out what our best batting line-up would be.
If Australia would play two spinners, as England recently did
We're playing in different venues of India as compared to England. We need to wait and see what the wickets are like before we make that decision. But I'm more than happy to bowl as much as I need to bowl. We are lucky we have some good choices with both pacers and spinners. I enjoy bowling in India, but we will wait and see what happens.
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