With Simon Katich, Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke away on Test duties, Sydney University fast bowler Stuart Clark has been called on to captain NSW in their Sheffield Shield and one-day matches against Western Australia at the WACA.
Clark might well have been in Brisbane with the Australian team for the first Test against the West Indies at the Gabba, but was overlooked for national selection, with his place being taken by NSW team-mate Doug Bollinger.
But having made way for a younger trundler, Clark hasn’t given up hope of resurrecting his Test career.
“I feel what has happened in the last couple of weeks in Shield cricket has really given me some heart that I can still do it – and do it well,” Clark told The Sydney Morning Herald’s Will Swanton. “I think it’s all pretty simple: take some wickets and hopefully a spot becomes available.
“There’s probably going to be an injury. The guys that played in England (in the recent Ashes series loss) at different times did a really good job and deserve their spots. Doug bowled well in India; they (the selectors) went down that path.”
Having played in the team that lost at the Oval and conceded the Ashes, Clark is keen to be part of the team that tries to win them back next year.
“I think that is one of the benefits of me playing if I do play, I have played a lot of cricket over the years and I have played quite a few Test matches,” he said. “I’m not sure if it will come down to that. It will come down to experience if I’m bowling well. If an opportunity arises, I think there is every chance I could get picked. Physically I’m fine, and mentally I know I still want to play for Australia. I definitely want to be part of the Ashes again next year after unfortunately losing them in England this year.”
But for now, Clark is preparing to test his captaincy skills, with the one-day match at the WACA tomorrow (Wednesday) and the Sheffield Shield match beginning on Friday.
Bowlers who take on captaincy have the difficult task of knowing when to bowl themselves, and Clark is confident he can make the right calls.
“I will do what I have always done – bowl when I need to,” he said. “It’s probably one of the harder things when you are captain, that there is so much else going on that you may neglect yourself.”
A good haul at his Test average (94 wickets at a miserly 23) could have a dual effect – a much needed win for the Blues and a Test berth for Clark.