Clarke: the new voice of Australian cricket

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Australia will need Michael Clarke to have a big series to have any chance of winning back the Ashes. 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.

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