Vol. 5 Num 923 Sun. December 31, 2006  

Clark no surprise

Stuart Clark's stunning returns in the Ashes series have not surprised Michael Hussey, who has been regularly troubled by his current teammate's accuracy and bounce.

Hussey said Clark, the right-arm fast bowler, has always been able to hit difficult spots for batsmen early in his spell and the threat have proved especially tricky for England.

Clark has often chipped in after Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee have taken the new ball and he will start his first home Test at the SCG on Tuesday with 21 wickets at 16.76 from the series.

"I've often had battles with him while playing for Western Australia and in the nets and I wish I had a dollar for every time he went past my edge because I'd probably have an island somewhere," Hussey said. "He's been a very fine bowler for a long time and he knows his game very well. I was confident that once he got a game for Australia he'd be successful."

McGrath's withdrawal from the South Africa tour in March gave Clark an opening and his performances have been so spectacular that his New South Wales teammate's upcoming retirement is no longer as frightening for Australia.

Clark was man-of-the-series in South Africa and he is the equal leading wicket-taker in the Ashes with Shane Warne.

"He's experienced and unflappable," Hussey said. "He's not affected by pressure too much and has a clear mind about what he's trying to do. His job is to keep chucking it into that area and he's getting the right results."