With the Ashes just round the corner, the mind games have already begun in both the camps, with England ace offspinner Graeme Swann calling to restrict Australia's prolific batsman and captain Michael Clarke from scoring big.
"He [Clarke] was their form batsman in England in 2009, although he didn't have such a good series in Australia," Swann was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. "The year he's had has been phenomenal, so we'll be hoping to cut the head off the serpent if you like, as a captain."
Clarke has been Australia's best batsman for quite some time now, leading a batting order which crumbled far too often in the past few years. And since his return from a back injury - one of many breaks the 32-year-old had to take throughout his career because of the same problem - he is back to doing what he does best: scoring runs. In the two practice game before the first Test starting on Wednesday, Clarke has had scores of 45, 26, 62, 124.
Swann said one of the main reasons of their successful Ashes campaigns in the recent past is that their strategy of restricting Australia's main men worked. "The two Ashes series I've played, and one of the main reasons we've won, is because we've been able to make some of their best players have poor series," he added. "Clarke and Ponting last time, and Mike Hussey, until The Oval, in 2009."
"That's what you need to do to win big series, make sure the match-winners in their team don't have a chance to perform. We'll have two or three players on their team we'll definitely be looking at to keep especially quiet - although you hope everyone on the opposition has a poor series."