The Ashes preview: Michael Clarke defiant as Australia change team for Oval Test
Michael Clarke, having previously said, "this is not a charity tour, it's not about giving blokes a go and hoping for the best," found himself having to defend the selectors' decision Tuesday to give a Test debut to James Faulkner, which appeared to be a classic case of taking a punt on a player with the series lost.
Australia captain Michael Clarke insisted on Tuesday the latest changes to his side were all designed to help the tourists salvage some pride in their Ashes finale against England at The Oval.
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Ashes-holders England have an unbeatable 3-0 series lead heading into the final Test at The Oval in south London starting on Wednesday.
Clarke, having previously said, "this is not a charity tour, it's not about giving blokes a go and hoping for the best," found himself having to defend the selectors' decision Tuesday to give a Test debut to James Faulkner, which appeared to be a classic case of taking a punt on a player with the series lost.
The Tasmanian paceman has taken 132 first-class wickets at under 23 apiece but, although considered an all-rounder, he has yet to make a senior hundred in any class of domestic or international cricket.
The debutant was brought in at the expense of under-performing number three batsman Usman Khawaja -- who was axed on the same day Cricket Australia announced his national contract had been upgraded.
Shane Watson, who started the series as an opener and was then deployed at number six, was given the task of filling a problem position for Australia.
Meanwhile, in a nine-match pattern of being in and then out of the side, including Australia's 4-0 series loss in India earlier this year, left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc returned to the side, having understandably complained Monday about his treatment by the selectors.
No Australia side has lost an Ashes series in England 4-0 and victory is desperately needed by Clarke's men, who haven't won any of their last eight Tests, a run consisting of seven defeats and a drawn third Ashes match at Manchester's Old Trafford.
"Our goal hasn't changed," Clarke told reporters at The Oval on Tuesday. "Like I've said a number of times in my press conferences we are trying to win every Test that we play.
"This Test is no different. There are a number of reasons we need to have success in this Test match but the main reason is because every Test you play for Australia you want to win. We don't need any extra motivation than that.
"It (a win) would be a nice way to finish the Test side of the tour."
Australia were once renowned for a 'pick and stick' approach exemplified by the career of former captain Steve Waugh, who didn't score a hundred until his 26th Test before becoming one of the leading batsmen of his era.
By contrast, this series has seen 17 out of the 18-man squad given a taste of Test action, with only reserve wicketkeeper Matthew Wade missing out, in chaotic scenes reminiscent of the kind of uncertainty that bedevilled English cricket in the late 1980s to the early 2000s when they were on the receiving end of eight straight Ashes series losses at the hands of their arch-rivals.
As yet neither coach Darren Lehmann, parachuted in before the Ashes following the sacking of Mickey Arthur, or fellow selector on tour Rodney Marsh, have explained in public the thinking behind their Oval choices.
Earlier on Tuesday, Clarke tried to do it for them.
"I know there's been a lot of talk back home about consistency of selection," he said.
"But the selectors are trying to do everything in their power to help us win and if guys aren't performing, unfortunately you can't select them.
"We're trying, or the selectors, I guess, are trying to be as consistent as they can but we're also here to win the game."