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Time for top order to make a stand: Clarke
By Greg Buckle
16:39 AEST Thu Dec 13 2012

Australia captain Michael Clarke has told his top-order trio the time has come to start owning their positions.

Ex-opener Phil Hughes has been recalled following a year out of the side and will bat at No.3 against Sri Lanka in the first Test starting on Friday which marks the beginning of the post-Ricky Ponting era.

Openers Ed Cowan and Dave Warner failed to give Australia a solid start in the three-Test series against South Africa which ended earlier this month.

While Warner and Cowan both averaged over 40 in the series, Australia's first-innings starts of 3-40, 3-55 and 3-34 put the home team's middle order under enormous pressure.

Sri Lanka's pace attack has been labelled by ex-Test quick Rodney Hogg as the worst to play in Australia, but anything resembling good line-and-length bowling could prove to be a challenge for the home side if they bat first on a lively deck at Hobart's Bellerive Oval.

Clarke is averaging a staggering 104.66 in nine Tests in 2012 but the No.5 can hardly be expected to keep up those Bradman-esque stats for much longer.

Warner has been given a licence by his skipper to continue to play his shots as Clarke revealed he had told his new-look top three to simply back themselves.

"There is plenty of talent there. It is about owning your position, making the most of it," Clarke told a news conference on Thursday.

"They have the chance to build a long, successful career whether it be opening the batting (or) batting three."

Warner was caught behind for 13 and caught at slip for 29 in Australia's 309-run loss to South Africa in Perth earlier this month, playing a loose drive in the first innings.

"The one thing we need to understand with Davey is the same ball he got out on in Perth, we're all standing and clapping in Adelaide when it went over cover or went over slips for four," Clarke said.

"He plays his best when he's looking to score runs.

"Sometimes he doesn't look great when he gets out, but the other side is he's got that x-factor.

"He can take a game away from any team in the first session of a Test match really.

"Not too many players in the world have that talent."

Clarke recalled Warner's fine hundred in a losing side in Hobart against New Zealand last summer.

"In a perfect world you'd love to bottle that and say play like that every time, but there's got to be a bit of give and take with Davey," Clarke said.

Allrounder Shane Watson, who made 25 and 10 at No.3 in Perth, has been moved to No.4.

Clarke said he considered moving himself to the role at No.4 which Ponting held in Perth.

"I always as a kid wanted to bat No.4 for Australia," he said.

"I guess the older you get and the wiser you get, you work out and realise that the number is irrelevant where you bat."


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