Michael Clarke seemed genuinely surprised this morning when asked if he “fears for his job” as Australian cricket captain, in the aftermath of an embarrassing 2-0 series loss to Pakistan.
Clarke should fear for his job. He really fucking should.
Because without runs, what is Clarke good for? Ever since his famous dressing-room altercation with TPA favourite Simon Katich, which was documented in our critically acclaimed mini-series ‘The Choke’, Clarke has divided fans and teammates alike.
Just as Australian politics requires a strong hand, so does its national cricket team. In the 1980s, we had Bob Hawke and Allan Border; in the late 90s and early 2000s, we had Howard and Taylor, who paved the way for Howard and Waugh, S.
In the late 2000s we had Kevin Rudd and Ricky Ponting. It is fair to say that the Rudd-Ponting ticket did not fare well.
Michael Clarke is not – and never will be – the strong hand that Australia craves. Our cricketing icons must be grizzled, hairy (preferably moustachioed), and aggressively masculine. Their wives should not be modelling Rebel Sport attire and hosting a ‘lifestyle’ website with the aim of inspiring readers to “beautify all aspects of your life!”.
Don’t defend Clarke by saying he’s a ‘positive’ captain. Clarke is like Kevin Rudd, in that he will give anything a go in the hopes of taking a wicket.
Just as Rudd gave the green light to several failed projects with little consideration for how they would be carried out – or fiscally managed – Clarke has shown a similar tendency to curry short-term favour.
His field placements against Pakistan were indicative of a man with no plan. Rather than implement a clear, patient strategy to take 20 wickets, Clarke resorted to silly tactics that drew comparisons to the popular 80s/90s board game Test Match.
Some might say that Clarke lacks the firepower of a McGrath or Warne to fall back on when times are tough. But McGrath and Warne did not simply blast teams out. They put the ball in the right areas for an extended period of time and waited for them to make a mistake. Soon enough, a batsman would lose patience, and Mark Waugh would take a sharp catch at 2nd slip. It was fucking clinical, it really was.
Sure, Clarke does not have a team full of Hall of Famers. But he does have enough to beat a team like Pakistan. Unfortunately, this is 2014, and Gen Y Australians lack the fortitude required to grind down their opponents.
Seriously, Clarke cannot just write this off as “two bad tests.” The public should not accept that a team of flashy millionaires can get flogged by a team that, due to ongoing security threats, are forced to play their ‘home tests’ in the Middle East.
In all likelihood, the upcoming One Day Series v South Africa will ease the pressure on Clarke. We’ll forget about all this soon enough. A few Dave Warner sixes will quell the bleeding, obviously.
But there is no way that, under a Howard-Taylor, Howard-Waugh reign, Australia would put in such a dismal performance against a team that, prior to this series, was ranked 6th in the world.
Under a Clarke/Abbott ticket, we have experienced unprecedented levels of disappointment. These two leaders have achieved their victories through sheer violent assault. In the case of Clarke, his wins have come via unleashing Mitchell Johnson; in the case of Abbott, it has come by immediately repealing Labor’s unpopular Carbon Tax upon taking office.
Despite his critics, John Winston Howard stood for what was good in the game. Conservative predictability and respect for traditions. The same cannot be said for his three political successors, nor his cricket successors, for that matter.
We need a steady hand in this challenging period of time – and what we have is an unstable cricket team with a taste for the reactionary.
Australians might not engage with federal politics to the extent we used to, but we’re still engaged with our national cricket team.
Gough Whitlam’s memorial service is being held today in Sydney. Next week marks the 39th anniversary of his infamous Dismissal, where he was ousted from power by John Kerr and replaced by his conservative rival, Malcolm Fraser.
For Whitlam, it took the parliament twice blocking supply for him to be dismissed. For Clarke, twice losing to Pakistan in Dubai is more than fair.
There would be no better way to mark the anniversary.
By Dave Edwards with staff writers