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'When you make a late debut, you try to enjoy every Test'

Last updated on: October 11, 2010 13:52 IST

A great beginning to the career

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Bikash Mohapatra in Bangalore

He was handed his Test debut only five months shy of his 30th birthday, an age when most cricketers are at the twilight of their respective careers.

He responded with an impressive 117 against South Africa at the Wanderers, thereby becoming the 18th Australian to score a century on debut.

A few months later he scored 125 not out against England at Sophia Gardens (Cardiff) on what was his Ashes debut, and followed it up with another century in the series.

And when he scored 112 not out against New Zealand at Basin Reserve earlier this March, Marcus North had registered an enviable century count within a year of his debut.


Image: Marcus North

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It was a great opportunity on a good batting surface

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Then came the slump.

Just 36 runs in two Tests against Pakistan in July followed by an equally vapid display in the opening Test against India at Mohali -- where he had scores of 0 and 10 -- meant North was in the firing line.

With the Ashes just weeks away, it was debated whether he would make the cut. And, at 31, age was certainly not in his side.

However, North responded in the best possible manner.

A superlative 128 in Australia's first innings in the second Test at Bangalore not only helped his side get to a comfortable position but also helped him register his best score since his 90 in the second Test against New Zealand at Seddon Park in March.

It was his fifth Test hundred, his highest Test score; en route (when on nine), he surpassed the 1000-run mark in what was his 19th Test.

No wonder he was a relieved man afterwards. Asked if he felt the hundred had sealed his place in the Ashes squad, North was diplomatic.

"You have to ask the national selectors that," he said, adding, "I knew that I was under pressure going into this game.

"I've had a couple of disappointing Test matches, so I thought it was a great opportunity to go in on a pretty good batting surface and get a score," he added.


Image: Marcus North

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'When you make a late debut, you try to enjoy every Test you play'

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Did he have self-doubts during the lean phase?

"No, the self-belief hasn't wavered," replied North, before going onto stress the importance of enjoying the game.

"I made my debut so late that I thought I wasn't going to play for Australia," he said, adding, "When you make a late debut, you try to enjoy every Test you play and make the most of it.

"It can get difficult at times, the pressures of the game and the standards you set yourself. But you have to try and contribute."

Despite his total of five centuries and four half-centuries, North has been dismissed 16 times for scores 10 or under in his 31 innings thus far.

"I've been asked that question maybe 20 times," he said, even before the question could be completed.

"Do you blokes have any ideas?" he asked, adding, "It's a difficult one (to start well) for me.

"It's been like that my whole career and it's highlighted at the Test level because every innings is there for everyone to see and comment about. I'm trying my best to work with it."


Image: Marchus North

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'Sachin has got the pressure of nation on him'

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The Bangalore match, apart from bringing him back among the runs, also witnessed Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar surpass 14, 000 Test runs. And North had a readymade answer on the topic.

"He's a pretty amazing player," he said, before eulogizing the legend.

"It's a credit to his career. We talk about the pressures of Test cricket," explained North, adding, "This guy's got the pressure of a nation on him.

"To see him score 14,000 runs in the same game in which I went past 1000 runs puts things into perspective."


Image: Sachin Tendulkar after he completes his 49th Test century

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