Clarke: the new voice of Australian cricket

David Lord Columnist

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    Score a truckload of runs, lead with imagination, win a World Cup, stand tall in the wake of a mate's death... Yeah, Michael Clarke was a terrible captain. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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    There’s no denying Michael Clarke is calling the shots in Australian cricket. Not only does his captaincy grow in stature by the day, but he’s a selector as well – a first-time double.

    Clarke’s the only one who is constantly talking about his team, with not a peep from the Australian selection chairman John Inverarity or his offsiders Rodney Marsh and Andy Bichel.

    Even selector-coach Mickey Arthur, another first-time double and usually very happy to talk about anything, has taken a public back seat to the skipper.

    Yesterday, Clarke was in full cry stating Brad Haddin is still the first choice Test keeper over Matt Wade, even though Haddin has missed the entire West Indies tour supporting his ill young daughter in Sydney.

    Most fans had written off the 34-year-old’s Test career after his below-par performances against India. But with Clarke’s solid support, that’s obviously not the case.

    Clarke also flagged Ricky Ponting’s precarious batting berth was secure against South Africa next Australian summer

    That’s an even bigger Clarke call.

    After this third Test against the Windies, it will be six months before Ponting has his next Test, having pulled out of both international one-day formats.

    That’s a big ask for a 37-year-old who will be close to 38 once the South African series gets underway. But again, Clarke’s support will be rock solid, and a telling factor around the selection table.

    On the other side of the coin, Clarke has been very quiet about the opening partnerships of David Warner and Ed Cowan in this their seventh Test together.

    Take out their superb 214 against India at the WACA in the third Test where Warner blazed away for a career-high 180 and Cowan batted so well for his PB with 74, and the other 10 opening stands between them have been ordinary to fair – 46, 14, 8, 26, 39, 50, 31, 53, 26, and 1 – averaging 29.4.

    Surprisingly, Warner has been first out in eight of the 11 digs, batting at full bore or full stop, there’s no grey in the left-hander’s repertoire.

    Maybe Cowan’s safety-first batting has forced Warner to change his attitude. Which begs the question: will Warner unshackle himself if Shane Watson was his regular opening partner?

    That’s for Clarke for work out as he heads for his IPL debut after this third Test at Roseau.

    Clarke will play for the Pune Warriors under the captaincy of Sourav Ganguly. Compatriots Callum Ferguson, Steve Smith, and James Hopes are already there.

    Watson is heading for the Rajasthan Royals with Rahul Dravid the skipper. Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, and Shaun Tait are there.

    Mike Hussey and Ben Hilfenhaus to the Chennai Super Kings, where MS Dhoni is captain, joining George Bailey and Doug Bollinger.

    Warner to the Delhi Daredevils to open the batting with captain Virender Sehwag, that promises to be explosive, while Ryan Harris will join Ben Cutting, James Faulkner, David Hussey, and Shaun Marsh at the Kings X1 Punjab under the captaincy of Adam Gilchrist.

    But first there’s a Test to be won to take out the series 2-0.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • April 24th 2012 @ 8:21am
      BigAl said | April 24th 2012 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      Ha ! – if he is to be the new voice, it’s about time he received lessons on elocution and grammar !

      A couple of gems from a recent presser . . .
      ‘…when we come off the field..” ; “… as you seen yesterday…”.

      Cringeworthy for someone in the position he holds !

      • April 24th 2012 @ 8:44am
        Ben from Brisbane said | April 24th 2012 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        Silly me, I could have sworn he was captain of Australia for his cricketing ability, and not his grammar. Good article David, despite questions marks over his support of Ponting, he is certainly putting his own stamp on the team.

        • April 24th 2012 @ 9:01am
          BigAl said | April 24th 2012 @ 9:01am | ! Report

          This is correct, but speaking in public, as with most things, is best done properly

      • April 24th 2012 @ 8:49am
        Chris said | April 24th 2012 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        Agree BigAl – if you’re going to be taking the new ball for media statements then please learn how to speak properly.

        • April 24th 2012 @ 8:56am
          BigAl said | April 24th 2012 @ 8:56am | ! Report

          well it wouldn’t hurt !

          • April 24th 2012 @ 11:46am
            sheek said | April 24th 2012 @ 11:46am | ! Report

            BigAl,

            We loves youz all…..

    • April 24th 2012 @ 8:38am
      Disco said | April 24th 2012 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      The boys club is in full effect it seems. Ponting and Haddin – really?

      • Roar Pro

        April 24th 2012 @ 1:12pm
        sittingbison said | April 24th 2012 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

        good grief!

        Shows why the captain should not be a selector

    • April 24th 2012 @ 9:41am
      Pope Paul VII said | April 24th 2012 @ 9:41am | ! Report

      No way should the captain and coach be selectors. I don’t disagree that they should state their preferred players, which Aussie captains have no doubt done forever but when it comes down to it they back their favourites. How this innovation is supposed to prevent another whopping such as the one by England I have no idea. I can’t see Clarkey having the heart let alone the guts to tell Ponting and Hussey they’ve been dropped if that’s what it comes to. Both have indicated they will not go voluntarily. Unecessarily awkward at best. How about when Steve Waugh, in the more common role of touring selector, had to tell the great Warney to take a rest for the good of the team?

      As for Mickey Arthur having an official say plainly ridiculous. He should deal with what he’s given, not what he wants.

      Anyway it may all be beer and skittles and I’m completely wrong but does the Australian team want to end up like the Indian contingent that toured recently?

      • April 24th 2012 @ 10:09am
        Disco said | April 24th 2012 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        So long as Punter’s ego remains unharmed.

      • April 24th 2012 @ 10:23am
        Brendon said | April 24th 2012 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        Yet Steve Waugh’s decision to drop Warne for the 4th test against the West Indies in 99 was right. We won that test and tied the series 2-2.

        Captain and coach on tour is a great idea. On tour you have a small squad of players and the captain and coach are working closely with all the players are in a great position to judge. During the summer players are spread out over the country playing for state shield teams and its not possible for the coach and captain to be selectors in the middle of an international series.

        If Clarke and Arthur keep picking under performing players then that will reflect poorly on them.

        • April 24th 2012 @ 11:25am
          Pope Paul VII said | April 24th 2012 @ 11:25am | ! Report

          Sure was. Warney was in denial and filthy. Will be an interesting 2012/13.

          • April 24th 2012 @ 12:24pm
            Disco said | April 24th 2012 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

            Threatened to quit international cricket, allegedly.

        • April 24th 2012 @ 2:35pm
          soapit said | April 24th 2012 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

          but wasnt made easier by being his team mate and had some (in the end minor) long term effect on team harmony.

      • Columnist

        April 24th 2012 @ 10:30am
        David Lord said | April 24th 2012 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        Totally agree about captain-coach not being selectors PP, but we have to live with it. Having said that, Michael Clarke is pulling all the right reins so far, and long may he do so.

        • April 24th 2012 @ 11:15am
          Pope Paul VII said | April 24th 2012 @ 11:15am | ! Report

          Yep he’s going good i admit

    • April 24th 2012 @ 9:47am
      Margaret R. said | April 24th 2012 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      Big Al , I agree with you , and especially the elocution part. Not only for sportsman.
      Also slow down …. too many words too quickly.

    • April 24th 2012 @ 10:18am
      Brendon said | April 24th 2012 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      His captaincy is growing in stature? Yet again Australia won the toss and batted first and yet again our batting failed.

      The whole batting first fallacy shows how Clarke has inherited Ponting’s stubbornness and semi-professional thinking.

      • April 24th 2012 @ 10:55am
        jameswm said | April 24th 2012 @ 10:55am | ! Report

        I sort of agree Brendon. Ponting suffered from a severe case of “batting first stubbornness”.

        I think Clarke has bowled once or twice though. Maybe he thinks that tough as the pitch is batting first, it will be even harder batting last. Time will tell.

        Are Siddle and Pattinson injured? I guess Siddle still has that side strain.

      • April 24th 2012 @ 11:14am
        Matt F said | April 24th 2012 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        We also need to keep in mind that this pitch is turning already. If there is this much turn on day 1 imagne how much it will be turning on day 4-5. Not all “bat first” pitches are 400+ run belters. Some of them are awful throughout the match but . It could well be that a first innings total of around 220+ is very good. We need to see how thr WIndies bat before making judgements.

        James – Both are injured

    • April 24th 2012 @ 11:51am
      sheek said | April 24th 2012 @ 11:51am | ! Report

      Some suggest I am anti-modern day players.

      So it may surprise some to read me write that I’m impressed with Michael Clarke the captain, very impressed.

      I had been a detractor, considering Clarke a bit on the ‘lite’ side, but I’m happy to say he’s proved me wrong.

      He’s having a go, & showing inventive thinking, & that’s good, very good in my book. Sure, he’s going to make mistakes, & have days when things don’t go right for him or the team. But I love a pro-active skipper!

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