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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
Clarke sets out England plan
By Martin Gough

Clarke congratulates Matthew Hoggard
Clarke (right) was a substitute fielder during the Lord's Test
Rikki Clarke believes he must improve his bowling in order to prove he can be a Test all-rounder.

Clarke, 24, impressed will bat and ball on England A's winter tour to the West Indies but his bowling with Surrey this summer has been less successful so far.

"The tour went really well with the ball and that was a massive plus for me," he told BBC Sport.

"I've come back looking to keep the form with the ball but unfortunately it hasn't gone as I would have liked."

In three Championship matches for Surrey, Clarke has 333 runs at an average of 66.60, including a match-saving 130 in the season-opener against Derbyshire.

But at the moment he is strictly a support bowler, with just eight first-class wickets so far.

"There are times when you go through bad spells and hopefully I can bounce back with the ball and show people that I can be a genuine all-rounder," he said.

"There's never really been a game [in the past] when I've scored runs and taken wickets.

"Because batting is my stronger suit at the moment, I seem to score runs more often than taking wickets."

With the debate raging about Andrew Flintoff's workload, Clarke's form will come under the spotlight as is viewed as English cricket's only other candidate as an all-rounder.

Rikki Clarke
The tour with the A side went well but if I don't go well this season then it's all wasted work

Rikki Clarke

England's Test success over the last three years has been built around the contribution of Flintoff, batting at number six and bowling either first change or with the new ball.

But when Flintoff missed two matches in Bangladesh in 2003, Clarke filled the gap, hitting a half century and taking three wickets in the second Test - only his 25th first-class match.

There has been no further opportunity in the Test side since then, primarily because those were the only games Flintoff has missed out of the last 40.

But it is surprising Clarke has not had a chance in the one-day side since a single appearance two summers ago.

He got a chance to join the England team at Lord's a fortnight ago, when he was a fielding substitute on the second day for an injured Andrew Strauss.

"It was good to be out there, even though I wasn't playing [fully], to feel a part of it," he said.

"I've always been hungry but it makes you even more hungry to put an England shirt on and take part in the game."

Clarke celebrates a wicket with Surrey team-mates
Clarke uses visualisation to recreate strong bowling performances

To get back to his bowling best, Clarke studies Crickstat video technology, which Surrey use to track every single ball of every match.

And he makes use of visualisation techniques introduced by England psychologist Steve Bull, where a player looks to recreate his best form.

"That's the sort of thing I did when I was struggling with the bat - just remember good performances and take those into matches," he explained.

With England's one-day side in disarray, Clarke's extra experience in the Caribbean could count in his favour with the World Cup now just 10 months away.

But he knows the bigger picture is far more difficult to control than the here and now.

Used to playing on the bigger stage, Surrey are keen to make their first season in Championship Division Two their only season there.

"The tour with the A side went well but if I don't go well this season then it's all wasted work," said Clarke.

"All I can concentrate on is performing week-in, week-out for Surrey.

"The main objective is to make sure I'm one of the reasons that Surrey go back into Division One then if the phone call comes from the selectors I'll grab it."



SEE ALSO
Clarke hints at future role
29 Oct 03 |  Ban v Eng
Chance to shine
29 Jul 05 |  Surrey


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