Michael Clarke’s first series as Australian Test captain begins tonight at Galle, and already he’s a ground-breaker before he tosses. He’s the first tattooed skipper of the baggy greens. And multi-tatts to boot.
Whether that’s a claim to fame or infamy will be debated until the cows come home. After all, the Australian cricket captain is the second highest post in the country after the Prime Minister.
Can you imagine a multi-tattooed PM? The mind boggles.
How anyone can destroy parts of their body for the rest of their lives is way beyond my comprehension.
Not a problem with the Pacific Islanders, it’s an integral part of their culture.
But Michael Clarke?
His tatts have me blinking in disbelief. If it’s hard to understand why he has disfigured his body permanently, how can we figure his mind-set?
Will he be a captain like Richie Benaud, or an Ian Chappell, an Allan Border, a Mark Taylor, or a Steve Waugh?
Hopefully not like his predecessor, Ricky Ponting, who lost the captaincy plot and his batting form over the last three years, but is still within whispering distance and ever willing to make suggestions if Clarke’s struggling.
It would be a huge plus for Australian cricket is Clarke can be a Benaud: all pride, and passion, never thinking of defeat, just keen to play positive attacking cricket.
Or Ian Chappell, belligerent towards the opposition, but his team would walk over hot coals for him. Positive attacking cricket his forte as well.
Or a Border, a reluctant captain for 93 Tests, a world record, whose batting was the team’s benchmark, bolstered by his captaincy-coach combination with Bobby Simpson that reaped rich rewards.
Or Taylor’s serenity, never flustered, a skipper with lateral vision and positive vibes, with twice as many Test wins against defeats – a diplomat rather than a cage rattler.
Or Waugh’s steely resolve. If there’s been a tougher more ruthless Test cricketer I haven’t seen him. Winning was everything, playing to save a Test was never an option.
That’s why Stephen Rodger Waugh owns the best Test captaincy record in history with a 71.92% win ratio, from 57 Tests, 41 wins, 9 losses, and 7 draws.
Ponting’s next best with 62.33%, Mike Brearley 58.06%, Bill Woodfull 56%, Viv Richards 54%, with Andrew Strauss and Shaun Pollock sharing 53.84%.
To put Waugh’s percentage in perspective, of the 50 Test captains who have captained their country a minimum 25 times, 37 have 48% or less, win ratio.
That puts Waugh in a class of his own and someone for Clarke to aspire to but he couldn’t be ruthless.
So a mixture of Richie Benaud’s pride and passion with Mark Taylor’s serenity seems more appropriate.
We’ll start seeing what really makes Michael Clarke tick tonight.