Aussies ready for new era
Clarke in charge for Bangladesh one-dayers
Last Updated: April 7, 2011 7:34pm
Man in the spotlight: Clarke has succeeded Ponting as Australia captain
Australia make a fresh start under new skipper Michael Clarke with the opening game of a three-match one-day international series against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Saturday.
Clarke steps into the considerable shoes left by Ricky Ponting after the 36-year-old ended his record-breaking reign as Australia captain following his side's World Cup quarter-final exit.
Australia were bundled out by India on March 24 and after less than a week at home, when the the captaincy handover was made, they find themselves back in the subcontinent.
It is a quick turnaround that is hardly likely to phase Clarke, who has been the man-in-waiting for some time now, and who only at the start of the year led Australia to a 6-1 ODI success over England while Ponting was sidelined by a broken finger.
The 30-year-old does, however, have a curiously strained relationship with the Australian public lurking over him as he takes on the role - a fact that was underlined when he was booed by his home fans in Melbourne and Brisbane during the series against England.
Clarke's ascension to the captaincy has therefore not been met with complete approval and a winning start would at least begin to help turn some of the critics his way.
New vice-captain Shane Watson is determined to help Clarke prove an early point against a Bangladesh team that were one of the major disappointment of the World Cup.
"We have got three games in Bangladesh with a new captain that will add a slightly new dynamic to our team," Watson said.
"I think it's really an exciting phase in Australian cricket. It's a changing time in Australian cricket."
The tourists have made a couple of changes to their squad after the World Cup with young quick James Pattinson replacing Shaun Tait following his retirement from the 50-over game, while fit-again spinner Xavier Doherty comes in for Jason Krejza.
Ponting has also been retained in the squad which began the tour with a 90-run win over a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI in Fatullah on Thursday.
"I think it is brilliant that Ricky continues to play on," Watson added. "Having his experience around the group is very important for our development moving forward."
Bangladesh have made changes to their batting after they were twice bowled out for less than 100 during the World Cup.
Veteran Mohammad Ashraful and Junaid Siddique have been banished to the A tour of South Africa and replaced by Alok Kapali, who has not played for the Tigers since September 2008, as well as Shuragoto Hom.
Former skipper Mashrafe Mortaza is also back in the team after recovering from injury.
The pressure will also be on the Tigers' Australia-born coach Jamie Siddons, who will lead the side for the last time before his contract expires in June.
His place has come under scrutiny after Bangladesh failed to reach the knockout stages at the World Cup, but he has come out firing claiming his side will target Clarke in his first series as skipper.
"Every team targets the captain and we will be wanting to get rid of him [Clarke]," he said.
"If we get to him, it means we will have got through the openers and [Ricky] Ponting, and we'll be happy to have a crack at him."