Few good men
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Then he smiled. For the better part of the last 72 hours, Michael Clarke perhaps didn't have the opportunity to. In the past three days, those askew, always pouting chops of his have been utilised to throw Australian cricket into a disarray or used to defend his decision. For most of the pre-match press conference at the PCA Stadium in Mohali, things were no different.
"Look, I don't want to talk about the past," he repeated incessantly. "Please, move on." Then, right at the end of this quasi-interrogation, someone asked him about the wicket on offer for the third Test. Clarke paused, sighed, and smirked.
It is not always easy to believe a cricket reporter's pitch analysis, even if the person has had full access (as was granted on Wednesday) to the most important strip on a cricket field.
The inexact science of soil curation plays a role, as does the writer's ignorance. But on the eve of the match, it was quite evident even to the untrained eye just why Clarke was amused. "I saw the wicket yesterday and am yet to look at it today," he said.
"But I imagine it wouldn't have changed much. There's not much grass to cut off and it was quite dry yesterday so it's probably even drier today. I think the conditions are going to be very similar to what we've seen in the first two Test matches." On a bed that looks like the Rann of Kutch, it sure is going to be harder for Clarke to declare his first innings with a wicket in hand.
For that, however, he first has the unenviable job of putting eleven players on the field by Thursday morning. After having four men suspended and Matthew Wade (a man who has suffered more injuries on this tour than Australia has losses) all but ruling himself out, the Australian captain has the simple yet arduous task of choosing from 12 players.
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