Clarke backs out-of-form trio

November 23rd, 2011 - 5:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Nov 23 (IANS) Australian captain Michael Clarke has backed beleaguered trio Ricky Ponting, Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin to play a key role in the upcoming home series against New Zealand starting Thursday.

The trio has come under severe criticism for their poor form stretching back to last year’s dismal Ashes campaign. Even though Clarke has pledged his full support for them, he said they needed to improve their output.

“I’d like to see them continue playing well as they did the other day,” Clarke was quoted saying to Australian media at Sydney Airport Wednesday after arriving home from the recently concluded tour of South Africa.

“I think, like anybody, we’re judged on performance, they (Ponting and Haddin) are two very experienced players and bring a lot to our team.”

“But they will be judged on making runs and, for Hadds, keeping wickets so I’ll continue to support anyone in my team,” Clarke said.

“I think Punter has been hitting the ball really well, he’s just short of a big score, I think he proved that to a few people the other night,” Clarke said of Ponting who notched his first Test half-century in 14 innings during Australia’s memorable two-wicket win in Johannesburg.

“Hadds is the same … he performed beautifully the other night.”

Clarke said Johnson wouldn’t necessarily need the aid of a specialist bowling coach to start having an impact again.

“Mitch is trying things as you’ve seen in the last Test match, it takes a lot of courage to halve your run-up halfway through a Test match,” Clarke said.

“He believes it’s going to help him so I’d like to see him stick with that if he thinks it’s the right thing.”

“In our second Test especially I thought he bowled really well without too much luck.”

“But the reality is he knows he needs to be taking wickets to be picked in our team.”

Clarke said Ponting, Johnson and Haddin would all be discussed at a selection meeting Thursday.

However, injury woes for the Australian team mean all three could be given reprieve. Shane Watson (hamstring), Shaun Marsh (back) and Ryan Harris (hip) are all in doubt against New Zealand.

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