With Ricky Ponting a possibility to miss out on the Boxing Day Test with a fractured little finger, Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke is expected to stand in as captain, right?
In an interview on TV earlier this week Greg Chappell has said that Clarke is quickly losing favour within the eyes of the selection panel, in regards to his leadership ability that is. The other thing to add to his diminishing reputation as a leader is his current lack of form. Clarke is averaging 20 odd so far this series with the bat, struggling to move around the field due to his back injury and can’t bowl a ball because of said injury. A man out of form and struggling in all facets of the game is a man low on confidence and a man, a captain, low on confidence brings the rest of the team down with him.
In an article in The Age, Andrew Hilditch is reported as saying that Clarke will undergo more leadership training next year, while current Victorian captain Cameron White is the countries second best leader (behind Ponting), with Tim Paine the best of the up-and-comers.
So with Clarke sliding down the leadership ladder, is he really the best option to lead Australia into the Boxing Day Test if Ponting doesn’t get up for it?
Clearly Cameron White isn’t going to be brought into the team to captain, let alone play, so who in the current team are the potential leaders? To my way of thinking, there are three stand alone, obvious choices – Mike Hussey, Brad Haddin or Shane Watson.
Those three players are the leading players for Australia this series, they take up the top three spots in batting averages and runs scored. They are in form and high in confidence and that in turn, will rub off on the other players.
Hussey and Haddin have experience as captains, they have both captained their respective state sides and done so decently. Watson is the only one with the question mark over his ability to lead ten other players. In another article it is reported that Watson may struggle to maintain mental strength over himself while trying to manage the captaincy, match tactics, slips fielding, bowling and opening the batting. There is the potential for an overload and that would have adverse effects for both Watson and Australia’s flickering Ashes hopes.
The other thing about those three mentioned players is that they are all aggressive players and are able to read the play really well, which means they will always be looking at pacing the game and keeping the opposition sweating. Could be a change to Ponting’s captaincy where there seems to be a bit of a stop-start action to his play.
So the choice is this if Ponting doesn’t play – a captain who is out of form, low on confidence, battling injury and has lost favour with the majority or a captain who is in form, confident, energetic and has/will have the support of the majority?