Chandigarh:Australia have great respect for Harbhajan Singh but it will be a "huge bonus" for the visitors in case he misses out in the first Test at Mohali in the wake of injury scare surrounding him, vice-captain Michael Clarke said on Tuesday.
Clarke, however, he was confident that the Indian off-spinner will play at Mohali and they were preparing how to tackle him.
"I am very confident Harbhajan will play. I know how much he loves playing against Australia," Clarke told reporters at a press conference here. (Read: Will inexperience hurt Australia against India)
"But if doesn't play, it would be a huge bonus for us. He has enjoyed quite a success against Australia," he said.
Asked about the confrontations involving Harbhajan and the Australian players in the past, Clarke said, "Certain players like confrontation and perform better with that but it was one aspect which we are not going to focus on and our eye would be on Harbhajan the bowler."
"There are guys like him in all teams around the world who perform better with that kind of confrontation. In my opinion, Harbhajan is one of the best spinners in the world. He is always tough to face under any conditions," he said.
"Facing pace bowlers Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan is also going to be tough, with their reverse swing abilities." Asked about too much cricket being played these days, Clarke said at the end of the day the choice has to be made by the players whether to play tournaments like IPL and the Champions League Twenty20 or not.
"I guess guys have a choice. They don't have to play all of IPL or the Champions League," he said.
Clarke, however, said that it was also one aspect of international cricket where players have to travel a lot, switch between formats and make adjustments to varying playing conditions.
"As professional athletes, you are trained to handle this and you have to adapt and make things do. I guess that's what makes you a successful international cricketer," he said.
He further said that at the end of the day, players have to see and make their own priorities and commitments.
"Playing for Australia, that is my priority. If you feel your body needs rest, play less IPL and the Champions League Twenty20," he said responding to a question.
"There are positives of this (more cricket being played). One gets to experience different cultures, be to different parts of world and have different experience," he said.
Clarke heaped praise on Ricky Ponting's leadership, saying he was a great motivator who led by example.
"Ricky is an inspiration for the youngsters. He is as fit as I have ever seen him. He's training as hard as ever and I think the next 6-12 months will be as big as you have seen from Ricky. His best is yet to come," Clarke said.
"He's keen as mustard to do well and he's really looking forward to the start of this tour and enjoying so much youth being around the squad. I wouldn't be surprised if this is Ricky's best 12 months of his career," he added.