The West

Test skipper Clarke raring to go
Michael Clarke. Pic: Getty Images

Test captain Michael Clarke looms as a major danger for WA as he prepares to lead NSW for the first time in a rare Sheffield Shield appearance at the WACA Ground.

Australian duties mean the Test captain has played just two first-class matches for the Blues in the past five years but has scored centuries in both of them.

And Clarke intends to savour a month in which he will play for NSW and his club team Western Suburbs while world cricket focuses on Twenty20 tournaments.

"I think I can play three shield games and one or two club games," Clarke said on the eve of the season opener.

"I don't think I have played for NSW for three years and I can't remember the last time I played club cricket which is unfortunate because I love getting back to my club.

"It is exciting. It is a different feel to playing for Australia and the atmosphere will be different.

"But it is nice to be back for NSW and play with a few of my mates."

Clarke predicted run-making would be no easier at State level, given the intensity of the shield competition and the presence of nine Test players in the match.

Two of the most imposing will be rival left-arm pacemen Mitch Johnson and Doug Bollinger who bowled with significant pace in Sunday's one-dayer and are looking to impress Clarke, also a Test selector.

"It is great to see so many players striving for success and trying to get into the Australian team," Clarke said.

"I have heard a lot in the past couple of years about conditions in shield cricket and how tough it is to bat and I will get a good look at that this summer. The last couple of years here the wickets have not been as good to bat on as batters would like, even in the Test matches, so that will be a good test."

The Warriors have included left-armer Ryan Duffield in their 12-man squad after the experienced Michael Hogan withdrew from the one-dayer with a side strain.

Duffield did not play last season after returning overweight from a winter holiday but has since shed 20kg and will seek to have the same impact as 2010-11 when he claimed 33 wickets in his debut season.

Brad Haddin will also return to first-class action for the first time since his early departure from the tour of the West Indies, which allowed Matthew Wade to take over as the Test gloveman.

  • Teams - WA: *Liam Davis, Marcus Harris, Shaun Marsh, Marcus North (capt.), Adam Voges, Mitch Marsh, Tom Triffitt, Mitch Johnson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nathan Rimmington, Michael Beer, Ryan Duffield (12th to be named).

  • NSW: *Nic Maddinson, Scott Henry, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin, Peter Nevill, Moises Henriques, Steve O'Keefe, Josh Hazlewood, Doug Bollinger, Trent Copeland, Josh Lalor Daniel Hughes (two to be omitted). *Hours of play: *10am-12 noon; 12.30-2.30pm; 3.00-5.00pm. *Radio: *91.3FM
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