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Clarke desperate to rediscover touch

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Paul Collingwood, Michael Clarke & Matt Prior

Michael Clarke, who has scored 34 runs in three innings, said: “I'll keep working hard in the nets and trying to perform in the games"

Australia’s out-of-form stand-in captain Michael Clarke revealed he asked to play grade cricket in Sydney today as he seeks to engineer a turnaround in form.

Clarke has become the focus of criticism during a summer in which Australia and the right-hander have been second-best to England for the most part.

While the hosts have earned a measure of respect to lead the seven-match one-day series 3-1, Clarke’s travails with the bat have persisted to leave him searching for answers.

One of the possible solutions the New South Welshman came up with was to ask that he could return to his local club side, Western Suburbs, just a day before he is due to captain Australia in the fifth one-day international in Brisbane tomorrow.

The Australia hierarchy turned down the request, but Clarke said he would look to play as much cricket between now and the start of the World Cup next month as he tries to bat his way out of his slump.

“I think any opportunity I have to play any cricket, whether that be for New South Wales or my grade club Western Suburbs, I have to take,” he said.

“I mentioned that the other day to the coach and selectors. We were batting in club cricket today for Western Suburbs.

“I'm keen to go back to Sydney and have a hit there but they thought it was better preparation for me to be here with the team which I agree with.

“Any opportunity I get to play cricket now I'll be grabbing with both hands.

“Everybody's different. Some guys, when they're not doing as well as they like, would like some time away from the game but I don't think that's me.

“For me it's about continuing to work my backside off and making sure my preparation's done so that I've got the confidence when I walk out there tomorrow.

Michael Clarke

Given the devastating floods in Queensland, Clarke admitted: “The least we can do is give our all and continue to play our best cricket"

“I'll keep working hard in the nets and trying to perform in the games.

“I'm confident I can get out of this run out in the middle batting for Australia but if a game does come up for New South Wales and my grade club and it fits in with the team then I'll certainly be playing.”

Clarke was able to escape his batting crisis yesterday when he joined his team-mates in visiting some of the towns that were devastated by the floods that hit south-east Queensland earlier this month.

Tomorrow’s game at the Gabba is set to act as a fundraiser for the Premier’s Flood Relief Fund, with proceeds from the match going to those affected.

Clarke admitted yesterday’s trip, which saw the players attend schools in Goodna and Ipswich, put his current problems into perspective.

“A lot of the guys were so devastated. When you see certain things on television it doesn't sink in like when you've got the opportunity to go there and see the damage,” he said.

“We've seen so many houses where the actual structure was still there but the whole inside was destroyed, empty.

“It was a little bit like a ghost town. The people were still trying to clean up but it was so quiet and such a mess.

“To see the kids at school running around and still smiling and having a good time it makes you put life into perspective. We signed plenty of autographs and played a lot of cricket.

“I played a bit of soccer, which was a bit of fun to get away from cricket a bit.”

Clarke is determined to claim a series-clinching victory at the Gabba to provide some cheer for the the children he met.

“A lot of the kids yesterday said 'please win, please win on Sunday',” he added. “The least we can do is give our all and continue to play our best cricket.

“I'm confident that if we do that we'll get a result which will not only be great for us and this series but hopefully put a few smiles on a few kids' faces as well.”

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