Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Australian Captaincy - As Easy As ABC

So the old football adage goes when asked who you support - "ABC. Anyone But Chelsea". And as Australia look set to appoint a new captain, the general feeling amongst Aussie fans is ABC. Anyone But Clarke.

The Australian public has massively lost faith in the captain elect over the past year. Off field issues, such as leaving the New Zealand tour to break up with his girlfriend have hardly helped endear him to a public who don't think his priority is scoring runs for Australia. The outpouring of anger when Pup was appointed (albeit temporarily) as captain for the final Ashes test when Ponting was injured just shows what a low opinion the Australian cricketing public have of Clarke, even bordering on a strong dislike.

Clarke has been groomed as "the next Australian captain" for the past few years, slowly being given more responsibility as stand in captain when Ponting's unavailable, and latterly full-time T20 captain as well. Given the very public opposition to Clarke, you'd have thought he'd failed miserably, but when you look at his performances as captain, he's fared pretty well. The selectors feel he has the required skills for the job (hence why he was groomed from a long while back), but will such a public opposition stop him from being appointed?

Viewed completely differently by the Australian public are Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin. Hads and Huss seem the sort of bloke who the average Aussie cricket fan could relate to, and down a few tinnies with. Clarke seems happier to chase a celebrity lifestyle in his surfer pad, hence why he is seen as aloof and dislikeable by fans who respect those who respect them. Haddin and Hussey, like Clarke, have played in a lot of international games, so have the required level of experience. And like Clarke, they too have their individual pros and cons. Haddin, for example, may soon be replaced by Tim Paine (who could yet captain Australia after the current choice hangs up his baggy green), whereas Hussey may be a bit too intense a captain given his penchant for 8 hour net sessions.

All three have their positive points, as well as their weaknesses. And in my view, all three would make pretty good captains for Australia. They would all be strong leaders, which is what Australian cricket needs as they look set for an overhaul and rebirth, and the new captain may yet have to deal with a certain R. Ponting, who could slip back in as "one of the lads". While Aussie fans may be hoping for Anyone But Clarke, they're probably going to be disappointed, as Cricket Australia wouldn't want to waste the years of training Clarke for captaincy. And while they may be upset now, it would only take a few wins and some runs for Clarke for the Pup love-in to start again. Stability is what Australian cricket needs right now, and while the fans may not like it, the best man for the job is the man they want least of all.

Note - I have never, ever used the term anyone but Chelsea. As a Chelsea season-ticket holder it sickens me whenever people use it. Just wanted to clear that up.

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