Oh, how the world has changed!
It was only 12 months ago, the Lara Bingle saga smothered Michael Clarke’s life. The Australian public was skeptical of Clarke’s ability to lead a group of men. He was to much in love with “fast cars and fast women”, and he lacked substance on the field. How could this bloke captain Australia?
Fast-forward to today. Clarke led the Australians to a 4-0 sweep of India. Keep in mind, Australia only just lost to New Zealand before the series. Clarke proved his toughness and leadership.
Unlike previous captains like Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh, Clarke possesses greater imagination on the field. He is willing to throw Mike Hussey, Ponting or even himself the ball to disrupt the batsman’s rhythm. Perhaps, Pup has been forced to do this, as he doesn’t enjoy a Warne or a McGrath to rip through a batting order. Yet, the fact remains he does and with great affect. Clarke also has a sense of when to be aggressive in the field and more importantly, the bowlers seem to believe in their captain, they believe in what he is trying to achieve.
Captaincy and batting is too often linked together. The general consensus in cricket is that to be a “good” captain you must score runs or be the best batsman in the side. This opinion is a misconception. These two aspects to the game are two entirely different skills. Captaincy is to motivate and communicate with his own men, and make the appropriate strategic judgement in a game, whether that is making a change in the field or appropriately electing to declare innings. The link between captaincy and batting should not be made on the total aggregate of runs in the series by the captain, rather, the timing and nature of the runs, low or high, made by the skipper. Clarke consistently compiled runs at Australia’s hour of need in a major test series. He led from the front when many batsmen struggled, rather than scoring runs when a series is lost or cashing in others’ success. His triple century was inspiring and provided the test side with genuine momentum heading into the 2012 calendar year.
A captain’s knock, indeed.