• Join the TWP Fantasy League. Code: 12550

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Australian Performance Analysis, India vs Australia, Chennai, 2013

Australian's weakness against spin was exposed at Chennai
Australia were given a very rude reminder of their batsmen's failure to play spin bowling and lost the first test match convincingly by 8 wickets (You can find the Indian analysis of the match here) and now go to Hyderabad with plenty of questions and headaches to figure out. The match was mostly about the Indians but the Australians did find some heroes in Michael Clarke, Moises Henriques and James Pattinson and will take heart from their performances. However there is much to be desired from both the bowling and batting of the Aussies and it is vital that they find their feat soon and adapt to the Indian conditions. Here's the performance analysis of the Australian performance at Chennai.

Australian Player Performance Analysis - read as name: TWP performance score (1st innings; 2nd innings) (DND = did not bat, * = not out, pass = 4/10) 

Ed Cowan: 4/10 - (29 runs; 32 runs)
Ed Cowan is still looking to cement the opening role in the Australian team and he was one of the few Aussie batsmen who looked at relative ease when at the middle. He got starts in both innings and the fact that he threw them away must hurt him and it certainly hurt his team. He sure would be looking to make amends in the next test.

Shane Watson: 3/10 - (28 runs;  17 runs)
Shane Watson the all-rounder did not turn up in India. Instead Watson the batsman turned up due to injury and a recovery fitness program that keeps him away from bowling and Australia certainly missed his bowling and the change up variety he brings with his medium pace. Watson the batsman was aggressive and looked dangerous in the first innings but like so many others in his team he threw away a good start. In the second innings where he was promoted to open, he again got going with a flurry of boundaries before he fell. His footwork against spin is simply not there and he sure has work to do if he is to contribute to the Australian cause purely as a batsman.

David Warner: 5/10 - (59 runs; 23)
Warner in the first innings looked like he would take the game away from the Indians and played some breath-taking shots. Again with Warner as with the story of the Australian batting was his performance against spin bowling and his confidence simply wasn't there. His feet was stuck to the crease and looked all at sea.

Phil Hughes: 0/10 - (6 runs; 0 runs)
Hughes had a forgettable match and though in the second innings he must count to be unlucky to be dismissed by a ball that behaved radically off the pitch, there's still not many excuses that can be made for just 6 runs from 2 innings.

Michael Clarke: 8/10 - (130 runs; 31 runs)
The Australian captain who last year had perhaps his greatest in his career, took forward his grand form and scored a brilliant century. He was the one Australian batsman who played the Indian spinners with complete confidence and attacked them and made them submit to his demands. He stepped out to them, swept and cut when the bowled short and drove on the up when they pitched it up. It was great batting and the Australian batsmen around him would do good to watch the replay and learn from him. He was lucky, but that's just parcel of the game and despite all his best efforts, he couldn't stop the Indian victory.

Matthew Wade: 1/10 - (12 runs; 8 runs)
Matthew Wade didn't have the best of times either in front of the stumps or behind it. It takes a wicket-keeper a couple matches to get used to the low bounce of the Indian tracks and he'll eventually adapt to that as a keeper. But what about the utter lack of application against the spinners? Will he able to adapt his batting to that?

Henriques on debut saved Aussies the humiliation of an innings defeat
Moises Henriques: 8/10 - (68 runs & 1 wicket; 81* runs)
Henriques debut would have been everything he would have dreamed it to be. Well almost everything considering Australia didn't win. He was a revelation and on debut managed to pick up his first test wicket, and score fifties in both innings and helped Australia salvage some pride by taking the game to the last day and making India bat again. Watching him battle the Indian spinners in a mix of caution and aggression was an absolute treat and if this performance is anything  to go by, Australia might have just uncovered a gem here.

Mitchell Starc: 0/10 - (3 runs; 8 runs)
Starc like the Indian fast bowlers returned with a big fat zero in the wicket columns and his failure to pick any wickets and support Pattinson's effort was one of the major reasons for India piling on 500 plus. Why Australia went into the match with four seamers on a spinner friendly track? No one knows the answer to that and it was sad to see the pacers toil under the Chennai sun for no spoils for their efforts.

Peter Siddle: 1/10 - (19 runs & 1 wicket; 2 runs)
Siddle like Starc was very much uninspired and their figures might resemble if not for the lone wicket that he managed to capture. The Australian bowling failed to make any impact and Siddle along with Starc provided Pattinson no support whatsoever and they have much to think and questions to ponder over the composition and their approach.

James Pattinson: 7/10 - (15* runs & 5 wickets; 11 runs & 1 wicket)
Pattinson bowled his heart out on the desert that was the Chennai track. He quite literally did just that as he gave it his all and returned from the match with 6 wickets and also as Australia's best bowler. He lacked any considerable amount of support from any of the other bowlers and worked as a lone man fighting the Indian batsman. Pattinson can take much heart from his performance and though his team lost, his performance is one that would give the visitors a reason to smile.

Nathan Lyon: 4/10 - (3 runs & 3 wickets; 11 runs & 1 wicket)
Lyon as the lone spinner in the side was made to bear a huge load and he did a decent job considering the various factors. He picked up 4 Indian wickets, but they did come at an heavy cost and he kept leaking at an hemorrhaging rate. In both the innings his economy was near 5 and the Indian batsmen who were brought up playing spin certainly found cannon fodder in him. He has much thinking to do and hopefully Australia will lessen his load and play another spinner in the next match.  

Overall team Australia's average - 3.7/10

Australia have plenty of problems with both their batting and bowling units and the difference in the averages between the Indian team which was 5.6 and Australia's 3.7 speaks a story by itself.The Chennai test will be something that they'd want to forget. However it is vital that they learn the lessons from Chennai and play a better bowling composition and play spin with a little more confidence. The Australian batsmen will slowly adapt to the Indian conditions and will put up a stronger fight at Hyderabad.  

Check out the mini-session analysis of the match here

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Who is Balakrishnan Vaali? [Sponsored Post]

Who in the world is Balakrishnan Vaali, you ask? Is he a superstar? Is he a cricketer? Is he Virat Kohli? Well he says no...

So who is this talented guy? Who is this man who looks is known to every machan in Tamil Nadu? Here's the story of the lucky charm named Vaali.

Why don't you meet @BKVaali and find out who he is for yourself!

Note - This is a sponsored post.

Indian Performance Analysis, India vs Australia, Chennai, 2013

Dhoni stood tall as he scored a double century!
The order of the venues might have been reversed for the Border-Gavaskar trophy, but the result went exactly as the hosts would have expected. The marquee series between two heavy weights who are looking for their next generation to take control kick-started in grand style on a typical Chennai dust bowl of a pitch that aided the spinners and puffed up dirt every time a ball or a boot landed on it. India won the match convincingly by 8 wickets [SCORECARD] and now go to Hyderabad one step closer to reclaiming the trophy from the Aussies. The match had some splendid and inspiring performances from both sides, and here's the performance analysis of the Indian performance.

Indian Player Performance Analysis - read as name: TWP performance score (1st innings; 2nd innings) (DND = did not bat, * = not out, pass = 4/10) 

Murali Vijay: 1/10 - (10 runs; 6 runs)
Murali Vijay came into the team in the place of Gautam Gambhir who was dropped due to his loss of form and other reasons over his attitude. Vijay had a brilliant domestic season and much was expected from his playing at home, but I was skeptical. He failed in both innings and though he is technically sound, I'm not entirely convinced that he's test material just yet. He still has another chance to prove me wrong and hopefully he'll do that and get some runs under his belt.

Virender Sehwag: 3/10 - (2 runs;  19 runs)
Sehwag the destructive batsman was missing at Chennai. There was glimpses of that in the second innings as the ball kept flying of the edge of his bat, but it was just a small glimmer. He didn't make a big contribution in terms of runs, but he certainly made his presence felt standing at slip and plucking a couple of absolute beauties! 

Cheteshwar Pujara: 5/10 - (44 runs; 8*)
Pujara once again showed that he has nerves of steel and in the first innings help steady the Indian ship after two early losses had them reeling at 12 for 2. He batted brilliantly and though he didn't convert his start into a big score, he certainly did his part as a number three batsman. However much more is expected from him than just scores of 40. It's good to see him take forward the form from the series against England.

Sachin Tendulkar: 7/10 - (81 runs; 13*)
Whatever talks of retirement that were around, Sachin Tendulkar sure did manage to silence it with a breath-taking innings. His partnership with Pujara in the first innings was particularly important and set up India's platform for the huge score. Sachin got off the mark in the first innings with three fours and in the second with two sixes, and it seems to be that the aggressive Sachin of the 90s and early 2000s is still in him. Watching him bat is one of the greatest sights in cricket and I can't help but think whether we've seen Sachin's last test match at Chepauk.

Virat Kohli: 8/10 - (107 runs; DNB)
Kohli who looked completely out of sorts in the English series until the last test, came good at Chennai scoring a well composed century. Kohli certainly likes the Australians and he mixed caution with aggression to tackle the Aussie bowlers. He was a treat to watch and though his innings were over shadowed by both Sachin's and Dhoni's, it remains as a vital contribution. It'd be great to see if he can carry on this form through the series.

MS Dhoni: 10/10 - (224 runs; DNB)
There are few in the world who can play the kind of innings Dhoni played and make it look so easy.His innings was the knock out blow for the Australians and he metaphorically and literally bullied the Australian bowling unit into submission. He treated Lyon with absolute disdain and kept depositing him into the stands. The innings is without doubt Dhoni's best test innings and it's also his highest and the highest by an Indian wicket-keeper.

Ravindra Jadeja: 6/10 - (16 runs & 2 wickets; DNB & 3 wickets)
It's not difficult to see why Dhoni wants Jadeja in the team. As an all-rounder, he gives more options to Dhoni and he certainly made use of them. Jadeja operated as the third spinner and a front-line bowler as both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma took backseat on a spinners track that crumbled into a dust-bowl. Jadeja who generally doesn't get much spin but rather keeps bowling a tight line, got a few deliveries to rip off the surface and he certainly was more than a headache for the Aussie batsmen who already struggle with spin.  

Ashwin turned on the heat at Chennai!
Ravichandran Ashwin: 10/10 - (3 runs & 7 wickets; DNB & 5 wickets)
It was a complete turn of fortunes for Ashwin from the England test series where he struggled to pick up even a single wicket. Playing at home, he certainly enjoyed the spinner friendly track and the crowd chanting out his name as he finished the match with 12 wickets - his best figures! He certainly must be a very happy man, putting on such a grand performance in front of his home crowd. It will be interesting to see how Ashwin fares in the next test.

Harbhajan Singh: 4/10 - (11 runs & 1 wicket; DNB & 2 wickets)
Harbhajan Singh's 100th test didn't turn out to be the fairy tale test he would have dreamed about, as he put on an average performance. I felt Harbhajan bowled beautifully but failed to fully exploit the track as Ashwin and Jadeja did. He looked a little lost in the first innings and his line and length erred but he came back well in the second. Will his place in the team in question, will this performance be enough to hold his spot for the next test?

Bhuvneshwar Kumar: 5/10 - (38 runs; DNB)
The test debutante bowled just 13 overs in the match (all of them in the first innings) and he looked uninspired. But then again in the context of the game where all pacers except James Pattinson struggled, it's not a huge worry. Kumar showed that he was no muck with the bat and his innings with Dhoni which resulted in 140 runs being added for the 8th wicket completely buried the Australians. It's not fair to judge his bowling on just 13 overs and so I'll overlook that.

Ishant Sharma: 3/10 - (4* runs; DNB)
Ishant Sharma like Bhuvneshwar Kumar was used little and he bowled just 20 overs in the entire match and likewise went wicketless. It was that kind of track and it is difficult to be hard on the pacers for not getting wickets. Ishant toiled hard, but got no returns.  

Overall team India's average - 5.6/10

So India with this win go one up in Border-Gavaskar trophy and the onus will be on them to keep the momentum going. The bowling department looks good, with the spinners in good form and the middle order is solid with all the key batsmen among the runs. Australia are sure to come back with a better performance at Hyderabad and India will certainly face more competition, but if they can put up a similar performance, then they should be good.

Check out the mini-session analysis of the match here

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A new chapter begins in India - Australian rivalry

A new look Australian team take on India tomorrow.
When India take on Australia tomorrow at Chennai, it will be a new beginnings for the two old rivals. Since the last time the two sides met, they have both lost a few key players - players who over the last decade and more had stood as proud representatives of their teams - to retirement and a few to injuries and selection policies. Australia are coming from one of their best performances at home in recent times and under Skipper Clarke they young team has rallied itself, while India on the other hand are facing another stern test with plenty of questions still to be answered after having lost the previous series against England at home. And hence for the old rivalry, this series will be a new chapter as two bold teams, filled with young blood take on each other.

The major difference in this clash between the two teams is the since the last time these two met, titans of the game on both sides have called it a day. VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting are more than just mere names in their teams and hold a place of reverence in the India - Australian rivalry and now the teams must look beyond them for new heroes to carry on the baton. India already have found Cheteshwar Pujara who held his own in the series against England and managed to convince one and all that he has a long test career ahead of him, while the Aussies have David Warner who seems to have taken his aggressive T20 hitting abilities to another level in test cricket. There are also many on the sides of both teams who have just started their test career and still haven't cemented their places such as Ed Cowan and Murali Vijay and this series will be interesting to see how they fare. Also with a couple debuts bound to occur when Rahane and Henriques take field, the series will also kick-start a few test careers.

Another interesting thing is the bowling units of both the sides. Both of them have relatively young attacks though Australia's pace battery with Siddle, Pattinson and Starc look more than formidable and the challenge for them will be adapting to the Indian pitches with their lack of bounce and side ways movement. India too in the pace department have a few new faces with Zaheer Khan still missing. India's spin department will be headed by seasoned campaigner, Harbhajan Singh who will be playing his 100th test match tomorrow, becoming only the 10th Indian to achieve the feat and lot hangs on the Turbanator as he'll be expected to work magic as he did against the Australians in 2001. With Harbhajan's career in the balance, this series is certainly a new chapter in his career and he has the opportunity to settle the question over his future with a truck load of wickets. Lack of them might also answer the question.

With both the bowling attacks looking quite different, it certainly will be intriguing to see whether it is the pace battery or the spinners who win the battle. How the Australian batsmen adapt to the Indian spinners will be vital for their success and if the match against India A is anything to go by, then they have work to do.

Michael Clarke, last year had an annus mirabilis and he'd be keen to continue that form as he leads a very young team that other than Mitchel Johnson and himself have no other player having played at least 50 tests. The lack of experience is sure to be a huge disadvantage. India while they do have some youngsters, there are still a few seniors in Tendulkar, Sehwag, Harbhajan and Dhoni and the fortunes of these players will be vital. Sehwag specially is under pressure to perform and if he can get India off to a good start, then it's bound to settle the nerves of the inexperienced middle-order. MS Dhoni in recent times has come under plenty of flack over his leadership and though, this Australian team might not be as strong as the previous ones, he's bound to have his hands full.

Tomorrow a new chapter in the short but intense India - Australian rivalry will begin and it should make a grand spectacle to watch as present day history gets scripted.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The best love stories in cricket

Sutcliffe & Hobbs - An English love story like no other
Today is Valentines day and on the day when roses, boxes of chocolates, fat teddy bears and kisses are exchanged, I take a look at some of the most memorable pairs in the history of cricket. No, I'm not talking about Michael Clarke and Lara Bingle, or Graeme Smith and super-model Morgan Deane or even Virat Kohli and his countless women. I'm talking about the a different kind of love story and here are the four I think that are timeless.

Herbert Sutcliffe and Sir Jack Hobbs

Traveling back in time to the short period between the two great world wars, we witness the amazing partnership between two of England's greatest openers. Of course there have been many such spectacular opening pairs but what sets these two apart is the sheer magnitude of their numbers. In the 6 years that they played together between 1924-1930, the two amassed together 3249 runs at an average of 87.81 with 15 century stands in just as much many as on 38 appearances. This was the period when batsmen wore little or no protection and played on relatively uncovered pitches and the stats are even more impressive considering those facts. Surely an impressive duo.

Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram

Is there a more lethal bowling combination than this? One might argue Ambrose and Walsh, or Donald and Pollock, or Thomson and Lillee, but the ability that these two Pakistani greats had with the old ball generating unbelievable amount of reverse swing makes them my top pick. The two picked up 476 wickets in tandem at a strike rate of just a little above 46 balls per wicket. Their average is best among bowling partnerships with over 300 wickets at 22.12 runs per wicket. Needless to say, Pakistan with these two held one of the most devastating bowling attack in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Even Bollywood couldn't have done this pair
Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly

The two Indians changed the face of Indian cricket and largely due to their great success in the ODI format where they scored 8227 runs together. Of those 6609 runs came from opening the batting and the duo hold the record for both. They also hold the record for most century partnerships with 26 which is 10 more than the second place. The pure dominance of this pair goes beyond just numbers and the influence that they had on Indian cricket and India is something that just can't be measured.

Glen McGrath and Shane Warne

This is perhaps one of the strangest partnership with a fast bowler and a leg spinner being so successful together but from 1993 - 2007 the two picked up more than 1000 wickets (1001 wickets) at an more than impressive average of 23.17 makes this pair not only stand at the very top of the mountain but also the best bowling pair in the world. The second place is occupied by another fast bowler - spinner combination in Vass and Muralitharan with 772 wickets, still over 200 wickets short of the mark. What's even more astonishing is that among the 104 matches that these two played together, Australia won 71 of them! It certainly won't be wrong to say that Australia's great domination was on the shoulders of these two.Will anyone reach the heights of success that McGrath and Warne did? It's highly improbable.

There have been plenty of other great memorable partnerships too, but none as great and long-lasting as these. Some of the great one night stands that come to mind would be Dravid and Laxman in Eden Gardens in 2001 when they scripted the greatest comeback since Lazarus, Sangakara and Jayawardene (a great couple themselves) who hold the record highest partnership in test cricket with 624 runs, and Yuvraj Singh and Stuart Broad. There are also a few others infamous ones such as the one between Lilllee and Miandad, Sreesanth and Harbhajan, Warne and Samuels, Symonds and the naked pitch invader, Sreesanth and the match referees, Steven Finn's knee and the stumps, Manoj Tiwary and the bench and so many others that make cricket truly a game of love.

In related news Indian cricketer, Chesteshwar Pujara began a new innings yesterday as he tied the marriage knot with his fiance Pooja Pabri. Here's wishing the couple a very blessed future and a happy valentines day to you, the reader.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cricket from a different era

Dilscoop - one of modern day cricket's innovations
Something that we often hear nowadays in the media and especially in cricket commentary is that cricket has come a long way. Whenever a batsman attempts an 'outrageous' shot, immediately the emphasis is that the innovation has been brought forth by the advent of Twenty20s and that such a shot was not only nonexistent a decade or so ago but also very much unimaginable.

The Dilscoop that Dilshan invented just a couple years ago in England or even the controversial switch hit which changes a right hand batsman to a left hand one and vice verse weren't played in the early 2000s and then the newest stroke in the book was the up and over ramp or upper cut shot off a fast bowler over the slip cordon through third man that Sachin Tendulkar played in the 2003 World Cup with much success. That stroke in the 1990s was almost non-existant with the exception of perhaps Sanath Jayasuria cutting the ball down third man and now the shot has become an almost traditional stroke as much as the sweep or the drive and it certainly won't be wrong to say that cricket was a different game then. An average of 30 was considered good and a score of 240 in ODIs was a good score regardless of the pitch. Cricket was definitely and those of us who have watched it back then can clearly see the transformation. But what about cricket, that literally was in another era - say a century or so back? Just how different was it?

For one it was an era filled with sportsmanship and one of my favorite cricket stories is one involving Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi in an Oxford vs. Cambridge match where the best display of the game's gentleman spirit was witnessed as the Cambridge skipper, Robin Oakley decided not to run out his Oxford counter-part, the Nawab of Pataudi when he was stranded in the middle of the crease on 99. Pataudi was offered a lifeline and he made the most of it hitting a boundary of the next ball to bring up his century and then the very next ball, he hit his own stumps and walked off - hit-wicket. The story is almost unbelievable and cannot be imagined in present day circumstances but that was cricket a little less than a few decades ago.

Ranji's famous leg-glance
Coming back to the aspect of how strokes in cricket have evolved, I was amazed that till the 1880s when another Indian royalty by the name of Prince Ranjitsinhji - the famous inventor of the leg glance - arrived on the scene, cricket was predominately an off-side game. Gideon Haigh in his article for Cricinfo where he calls the leg glance as the most influential innovation in cricket, mentions the then status qua of the game where only off-side play and drives were encouraged and more over so appreciated. Haigh writes,
"In Max Bonnell's new biography, he describes JJ Ferris' match-winning bowling at Lord's in 1888: eight wickets in 44 overs for 45 runs with only two leg-side fielders, at mid-on and long-on. It indicates, as Bonnell observes, "phenomenal control"; what it doesn't suggest is enormous initiative on the part of the batsmen.  
Partly this was native English constipation. As a schoolboy at Repton at the time, CB Fry was told that "if one hit the ball in an unexpected direction on the on side, intentionally or otherwise, one apologized to the bowler… The opposing captain never, by any chance, put a fieldsman there; he expected you to drive on the off side like a gentleman."
So to score on the leg-side was considered ungentlemanly, and even worse showed that one's skills in batting was next to none as one couldn't observe 'phenomenal control' and drive like a man would. In other words it was a cowardly to play leg-side. Haigh presents us more blasts from the past and speaks of the Aussies and their approach to the English constipation of the game.
"And while Australians were not quite so hidebound, they had their own inhibitions, as Monty Noble recalled: "When I first wielded a bat it was considered distinctly bad cricket to pull on the on-side, where there were no fieldsmen, a ball pitched outside the off stump or on the wicket. It had, forsooth, to be played in the regular and approved manner either straight or to the off-side where there were nine and often ten obliging fielders waiting to gather it in. The batsman was supposed to wait until the bowler lost his accuracy and direction and at length pitched one outside the leg stump before it was polite to dispatch it for four to where no fieldsman lurked."
So again the story remained more or less the same. Simply put, it was considered outrageous to score runs in places where the fielders weren't placed as it wasn't fair and gentlemanly. Of course that sounds almost senile now, but back then it was the approved form of cricket until of course some Aussies who cared little about convention, traditions or gentlemanly approach, helped by one of the most astounding and stellar sights in English cricket then - Ranji, threw the practice right out the window.

As much as the strokes and the way cricket is played nowadays might seem sacrilegious and probably out of the world to someone from the 1880s if he were to travel to present day through a time machine, the same can be said of someone from our present era visiting cricket during the reign of Queen Victoria. However it certainly would be a spectacle to witness cricket from a different era, wouldn't it?

An eye opener on blind cricket

George Abraham
Blind cricket is something that really does not get much attention in the media and even when India won the Blind cricket T20 World Cup in December last year there were very few people who knew about it.

George Abraham, a passionate blind cricketer, founding Chairman of the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC) and the Association for Cricket for the Blind in India (ACBI) in this video of his speech for Tedx at the Christ University talks about how blind cricket came to be and the many obstacles that he had to face in making it happen. The speech is a real eye opener and one that every cricket fan would find enlightened not only about blind cricket but also of the life that people with blindness have to live.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Captaincy and Clarke

Clarke with his Allan Border medal
Michael Clarke made the headlines yesterday after he won the Allan Border medal following his annus mirabilis where he scored five centuries and averaged over 100. Without a doubt he deserved the medal for his individual high and now with four Allan Border medal, he equals Ricky Ponting's record. However this article is not about his achievements as a batsman in the team, but as a leader.

I always maintained that Clarke would be a good leader and he has been groomed for most of his career for the role that he is now doing, but the verdict was always out if Pup was mature enough, or whether he was serious enough, or whether he was this or that and countless other things, but now seeing Clarke - the man who seems to enjoy the idea of being at the helm and revel the idea of huge responsibilities on his shoulders, there's absolutely no doubt of that.

Clarke is in my opinion has the potential to be one of Australia's greatest captains and perhaps even one of cricket's influential leader. He inherited a side that no longer was the undisputed leaders of the game and dominant masters of (Paddy Power cricket betting markets) setting the standard as they had been for the last decade and Australian cricket in the last few years have undergone many troubling trials that resembled the confusion generally found in the subcontinent. The CA management and selectors committee were dragged into one controversy over another while the team was slowly breaking up as all its legends and stars who built an era of invincibility became ageing warriors slowly riding into the sun set and leaving the heavy task of winning and keeping the high standards that was under them on some very inexperienced shoulders. Unlike Ponting who got a squad full of talent and experience under him, Clarke got the very opposite and he was left to salvage the old glory days of Australia's prime and the fact that Clarke has rallied his young team around him and now stand number three in test cricket speaks volumes of his ability to inspire confidence into his troops and lead them to winning ways.

The maturity of Clarke was seen foremost when yesterday night at the awards ceremony speaking of his fourth Allan Border medal win said,
"It is an honour to win an individual award on a night like tonight but it's more about the team. I would love to see the Australian cricket team standing on a stage in the near future winning the best sporting team in this country or the best sporting team in the world. Something like that is my goal and I know it's the players' goal as well. It is nice to win another Allan Border Medal and just as special as the first time I won but I'd love to see the team up there winning awards more than individual players."
Great captains have always been people who think about the larger picture and the team and Clarke is doing the same. Great leaders create a culture where the team is always greater than the individual and Graeme Smith who recently led South Africa for the 100th test and Stephen Flemming - arguably cricket's greatest leader emphasis on that one point above everything and I'm sure that Clarke by the end of his career can be mentioned next to these two great leaders.

Another thing with Clarke is that he was groomed for leadership for most part of his career being Ponting's deputy and there was no doubt whether he'd be the captain or not. The doubt was whether he'd be a good captain. Not all leaders are groomed and some like Smith are just pushed into the role, but the advantages of grooming and the education it provides is priceless and teams like India, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand can learn much from this. The captaincy story in both Sri Lanka and New Zealand is in total confusion and that's what the lack of planning can result in. India have a few years to bring up young Virat Kohli who in many ways resembles the old Micheal Clarke of 2005 - young, flamboyant, and immature. India have a good skipper in MS Dhoni and Kohli can certainly learn much from him. We saw him him struggle in the recent India v England series and surely that probably would have been one of his most educating series. The next few seasons will harden him and slowly transform into what Clarke is now to Australia.

Captaincy in cricket unlike in many team sports such as football or hockey plays a very important role and can be the difference between a win and a loss in many cases and having a good man as a captain is what'll bring a team success and there is Clarke is the right man for the job and there's no question over that.