Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane November 30, 2011

Clarke's chance to prove himself at home

  shares 30

Michael Clarke has led Australia to a Test series victory in Sri Lanka. He has since ushered the side through a tumultuous South African tour that plunged to rare depths but ended in a result that Peter Siddle has instructively termed a "good one-all series win". Yet Clarke and his team are still to register as an emerging unit with the Australian public, burdened as it is with memories of a humiliating Ashes defeat last summer. A modest but settled New Zealand side provides the first chance for Clarke's XI to prove itself worthy in the eyes of a country that has been losing interest in what is meant to be Australia's favourite sport.

Though many of Australian cricket's greatest exploits have taken place overseas, it is at home that reputations are made and broken. Kim Hughes' tear-stained exit was that much more painful for taking place in Brisbane rather than Barbados, Steve Waugh's most indelible innings was made that way by a teeming SCG as much as its last-gasp circumstances. Mark Taylor lost his first series as captain to Pakistan, but had the advantage of doing so on the subcontinent without any television coverage back home. Michael Bevan was a most accomplished debutant then, but later in 1994 against England's bowlers his mistakes were magnified by Channel Nine and he soon fell out of the team. Clarke has judged the network's audience so important he is speaking separately to Nine on match eve to preview each Test of the summer.

Damien Martyn, the former batsman, played many of his most outstanding innings on foreign soil, and endured some higher profile struggles at home. For this he felt under-appreciated, and is adamant that while there is greater cricketing difficulty in making runs overseas, an Australian cricketer's reputation must be made at home.

"Definitely [runs mean more at home], because people watch it at home in the summer," Martyn said in a 2009 interview. "If you make runs on primetime Channel Nine it's just more in people's faces. That's just the way it is, touring is much harder than playing in your home country. Every professional side loves playing at home. As individuals and groups we enjoy going away and playing well, whereas we feel some comfy at home and know all the wickets. It just worked out for me that way that I made most of those hundreds when I was away."

Clarke knows the importance of establishing his captaincy via success in Australia, not least to vindicate the many changes made to the structure around the team in the wake of the Argus review. Pat Howard, John Inverarity, Rod Marsh, Andy Bichel and Mickey Arthur all need time to settle into newly-minted roles, and further wins for Clarke against New Zealand would offer it to them. Given all the newness that surrounds him, Clarke must be grateful that Ricky Ponting stepped aside from the captaincy in April, allowing the new man time to get himself established - so few others are this week.

"I've been hearing it's the start of a new era for eight months now," Clarke said. "To me it will be no different, my captaincy will be no different to what it's been since I've taken over for the Bangladesh one-day tour. My goal is to win every game we play no matter what form of the game it is, at times the way I captain, I like to be attacking and positive but there's time throughout the game where you have to pull the reins in so I will do that to the best of my ability.

"I think I have to use the talent we have around the group in regards to our bowlers and our batting as well. We have a really good mix here of youth and experience and the experienced guys will need to stand up, me included, and make sure we lead from the front. The advice of some of the senior players is going to be very helpful throughout this Australian summer, as it has been in my brief captaincy stint. I'm looking forward to starting the summer, I'd love to get off to a flyer against the Kiwis and build this momentum we have since Bangladesh."

Since Bangladesh, Clarke's natural aptitude for tactical decisions has become clear. He wrong-footed Tillakaratne Dilshan plenty of times in Sri Lanka, and emerged with plenty of credit next to the more sturdy leadership of Graeme Smith in South Africa. Adept at managing a bowling attack, Clarke will have his hands full at the Gabba to extract the best from his country's least accomplished ensemble for 23 years. While Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon provide a modicum of experience and skill, half Clarke's attack will be lacking entirely in Test match pedigree, and there will be no Shane Watson to plug whatever gaps develop.

"That's something we have had to think about as a selection panel as well, without Watto, we lose his bowling, so the bowlers have a big job to do," Clarke said. "They all have their individual roles, and like I've said before I don't expect them to do anything more than what they've done for their states. The key to having success in these conditions against good opposition is discipline and execution.

"We as an attack need to have that, as a batting unit exactly the same, if our shot selection is not spot on, if we're not disciplined, we've seen in the past what can happen. Our training and preparation has been outstanding and I'm confident we will have the discipline throughout this Test match to win the game."

Ultimately Australia's best attribute in Brisbane may not be any one bowler or batsman but the Gabba itself. The hosts have not lost a Test at the ground since 1988 against the West Indies, and have been promised a pitch far livelier than the surface that died a slow and painful death at the hands of Alastair Cook during the first Ashes Test last summer.

"The reason we've had so much success is because we know the conditions and know how different the Gabba is to anywhere in Australia," Clarke said. "In times gone by, probably even before my time, the Gabba and WACA were the two standout wickets that had a lot of pace and bounce but in my time it's been the Gabba that does have good pace and bounce and it's quite a tough place to start your innings on."

So far under Clarke, Australia have yet to lose a series of any kind. He will not want to do so against New Zealand, at a time when the nation cannot help but take notice.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Meety on | December 2, 2011, 6:50 GMT

    @Antriksh Saal - congratulations on bringing up SRT, but in the series you mentioned, most of his runs came from one innings & was nowhere near enough to force a win. @RightArmEverything - re: Clarke, I agree 100%, in regards to Public opinion, I have seen market research where he is extremely popular with people under 25 years of age. I like the guy & I am in the over 35 category, it disturbs me that there is so much state parochhialism when discussing the National team & also the way in which people can slag off at the players without really knowing anything about them.

  • POSTED BY RightArmEverything on | November 30, 2011, 23:43 GMT

    I genuinely think NZ can challenge Australia, especially with Aust having a few debutants. @Front-Foot-Lunge, did you see the 2nd test in Sth Africa? @Mervo, I think Clarke is respected by his team, the public is another thing but judging from your comment I wouldn't give a toss if i was Clarke. Who are the 3-4 guys in the current team who would be more respected, I guarantee they wouldn't be better captains. @Khawaja Ikram Ul Haq, 4 quicks is rarely a good idea, did you see how McCullum, Taylor and Ryder destroyed the quicks against Aust A? Clarke uses spin bowlers well and as he said, if the pitch provides bounce that will assist Lyon. @zico, Warner and Khawaja are getting their opportunity, Marsh is injured, Ponting played well to help Australia win the second test in Sth Africa.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | November 30, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    @Gupta.Ankur, I put you in the same class as all English fans. Clueless, Living in la la land, delusional, hapless, the list goes on. These are also useful words to describe the two teams. SA and Oz are the only true teams that dominate cricket.

  • POSTED BY Full-Blooded-Wallop on | November 30, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    Front-foot-lunge: World dominance? LOL.First win a match in India. 5-0 was the result 1 month back. As much as i hate to say this but only dominant team after westindies of 80s and mid 90s was Australia since 2007. England is just a bunch of mediocre players excelling only on grazing fields.

  • POSTED BY Full-Blooded-Wallop on | November 30, 2011, 21:35 GMT

    Being myself an underdog,I am a die hard underdog supporter.But can't support OZ ;) So go NZ :)

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 21:10 GMT

    Could cricket writers please stop refrain from referrring to two consecutive test matches against a country as a "series"? 1-1 results after 2 matches does not constitute a series.

  • POSTED BY Mitcher on | November 30, 2011, 20:56 GMT

    @gupta_ankur: obviously the pretty basic premise of this article is beyond you. Nowhere does it suggest home results SHOULD be the sole judge of a team's class. Merely that it often turns out that way because those series are more visible to that team's fans. Martyn's comments spell this out pretty plainly. But, nice try on your part trying to boost the home-track bullies India anyway.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | November 30, 2011, 20:38 GMT

    Australia should just about scrape this series. With the humiliations that's been inflicted on them since England established world dominance, could they really go any lower? A chance for Clarke to try out Plan F.

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 18:21 GMT

    I am putting my Money on NZ. They are a confident team with an over confident Taylor as Captain. I always maintain that over confidence is good in sports. If you are to loose then you must loose by fighting and not as a whimper. India succumbed to England tamely except for 2nd test and the entire world has written off India. NZ will give a good fight to Australia. I also believe even against a mediocre bowling attack, Ponting would be liability. When Shaun returns, It is Ponting's turn to sit out and give Usman and Shaun the chance to excel together.

  • POSTED BY TTking on | November 30, 2011, 17:45 GMT

    In my opinion this series is wide open due to Australia's loss of key players. May the best team win.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | December 2, 2011, 6:50 GMT

    @Antriksh Saal - congratulations on bringing up SRT, but in the series you mentioned, most of his runs came from one innings & was nowhere near enough to force a win. @RightArmEverything - re: Clarke, I agree 100%, in regards to Public opinion, I have seen market research where he is extremely popular with people under 25 years of age. I like the guy & I am in the over 35 category, it disturbs me that there is so much state parochhialism when discussing the National team & also the way in which people can slag off at the players without really knowing anything about them.

  • POSTED BY RightArmEverything on | November 30, 2011, 23:43 GMT

    I genuinely think NZ can challenge Australia, especially with Aust having a few debutants. @Front-Foot-Lunge, did you see the 2nd test in Sth Africa? @Mervo, I think Clarke is respected by his team, the public is another thing but judging from your comment I wouldn't give a toss if i was Clarke. Who are the 3-4 guys in the current team who would be more respected, I guarantee they wouldn't be better captains. @Khawaja Ikram Ul Haq, 4 quicks is rarely a good idea, did you see how McCullum, Taylor and Ryder destroyed the quicks against Aust A? Clarke uses spin bowlers well and as he said, if the pitch provides bounce that will assist Lyon. @zico, Warner and Khawaja are getting their opportunity, Marsh is injured, Ponting played well to help Australia win the second test in Sth Africa.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | November 30, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    @Gupta.Ankur, I put you in the same class as all English fans. Clueless, Living in la la land, delusional, hapless, the list goes on. These are also useful words to describe the two teams. SA and Oz are the only true teams that dominate cricket.

  • POSTED BY Full-Blooded-Wallop on | November 30, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    Front-foot-lunge: World dominance? LOL.First win a match in India. 5-0 was the result 1 month back. As much as i hate to say this but only dominant team after westindies of 80s and mid 90s was Australia since 2007. England is just a bunch of mediocre players excelling only on grazing fields.

  • POSTED BY Full-Blooded-Wallop on | November 30, 2011, 21:35 GMT

    Being myself an underdog,I am a die hard underdog supporter.But can't support OZ ;) So go NZ :)

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 21:10 GMT

    Could cricket writers please stop refrain from referrring to two consecutive test matches against a country as a "series"? 1-1 results after 2 matches does not constitute a series.

  • POSTED BY Mitcher on | November 30, 2011, 20:56 GMT

    @gupta_ankur: obviously the pretty basic premise of this article is beyond you. Nowhere does it suggest home results SHOULD be the sole judge of a team's class. Merely that it often turns out that way because those series are more visible to that team's fans. Martyn's comments spell this out pretty plainly. But, nice try on your part trying to boost the home-track bullies India anyway.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | November 30, 2011, 20:38 GMT

    Australia should just about scrape this series. With the humiliations that's been inflicted on them since England established world dominance, could they really go any lower? A chance for Clarke to try out Plan F.

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 18:21 GMT

    I am putting my Money on NZ. They are a confident team with an over confident Taylor as Captain. I always maintain that over confidence is good in sports. If you are to loose then you must loose by fighting and not as a whimper. India succumbed to England tamely except for 2nd test and the entire world has written off India. NZ will give a good fight to Australia. I also believe even against a mediocre bowling attack, Ponting would be liability. When Shaun returns, It is Ponting's turn to sit out and give Usman and Shaun the chance to excel together.

  • POSTED BY TTking on | November 30, 2011, 17:45 GMT

    In my opinion this series is wide open due to Australia's loss of key players. May the best team win.

  • POSTED BY BravoBravo on | November 30, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    Mr. Clarke is lucky, he will win fothcoming series against NZ and IND. That is a given. Though I believe that AUS vs NZ series will be more competitive and fun to watch than AUS vs IND series. Good luck Mr. Clarke. I hope Mr. Winner (Ponting) will start making runs again, not just for the sake of record keeping but for winning the matches.

  • POSTED BY zico123 on | November 30, 2011, 15:27 GMT

    Australian bowling attack is inexperienced, if NZ batters concentrate and play tight, they should easily draw the test matches

  • POSTED BY zico123 on | November 30, 2011, 15:24 GMT

    as expected Ponting didn't walk off after SA series, so selectors would have to take the hard call on his behalf, it is the best time to blood in youth, no place for very old Ponting anymore who has passed his prime 2 years back, he is a burden on the team, he has nothing to achieve other than personal landmarks, it is time for him to go. time to give youngstars like Warner, Khwaja, Shaun Marsh an extended run

  • POSTED BY zico123 on | November 30, 2011, 15:23 GMT

    against a weaker NZ bowling attack, Ponting might score runs, but it will be illusion to think he is back in form. rather it is best chance to walk away on the high.

  • POSTED BY fahadalam1 on | November 30, 2011, 15:14 GMT

    it would be nice to see 2 new captains fighting for a test series

  • POSTED BY Marcio on | November 30, 2011, 14:22 GMT

    Yeah @Front-Foot-Lunge, truly remarkable self-belief to come back from that in the next game, without their strike bowler and their key allrounder injured, and win scoring a ground record fourth innings 310. Series result 1-1. Top stuff. Wonder how SA would have coped with Steyn out and Kallis injured?

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 13:29 GMT

    @Jade Valley lol, Tendulkar made 493 runs in 2007-08 series, I can't believe you ignored him and of course Sehwag who avg.60 in Aus. Infact Current Indian team Dravid avg. 49 in Aus.They have scored more in AUS vs Aus than AT home vs Aus.

  • POSTED BY dwblurb on | November 30, 2011, 13:26 GMT

    Jonesy, what's your problem? If you are going to describe an article as 'shocking,' at least provide some sort of back-up to your claim, i.e. why you found it so 'shocking'. I assume you were using the word in its colloquial sense, not that the content of the article literally shocked you? But with just four words, who is to know what you were thinking?

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | November 30, 2011, 13:23 GMT

    47+4 = 51. 10x2 = 20 years of utter dominance.

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 13:19 GMT

    Time for the Australian public to get behind Michael Clarke and his team, and give something back to Pup, because he has fought so incredibly hard for this team over the past year or so. I hope he proves all his haters wrong.

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 11:53 GMT

    well i think it is quite a joke too consider noel lyons as experienced when he has never even bowled at teh gabba before...and siddle is more of a workhorse than a fast bowling leader...?a captain only gets tested under pressure...his century in south africa when everyone could not score and teh second test outcome probably gave him enough confidence...obviously new selectors and new captain and new coach regard new bowlers as essential rather than new batsmen...if new zealand can get teh first four wickets quickly it should be an easy match for them

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 11:46 GMT

    clarke should be teh aggressive one and go in with four pacemen at teh gabba...any needed spin should be taken care of by clarke himself..new zealand have shown a confident batting lineup but pattinson and starc have put in the longhauls necessary for test pacemen...it should be a good test but probably not as dramatic as the fist test against south africa...all the tactics needed are generally to decide which paceman goes first and how to control teh match if it goes erratic batting wise or bowling wise...australia has not made too many batting changes despite a poor display in south africa...i did think that they should have tried cowan but the new selectors probably thought that a new set of fast bowlers and warner were enough major changes...probably frightened the selectors enough who think that age is probably a good thing for batsmen but not for bowlers

  • POSTED BY Mervo on | November 30, 2011, 11:39 GMT

    In 50 years of watching Australian cricket - I cannot think of a Captain who is less respected by the public and the players. Clarke is there because the former Chair of Selectors wanted him there. There would be 3-4 players who would be more respected captains. The cost at the ticket office will eventually turn the tide against him, and he will have to resign.

  • POSTED BY sawifan on | November 30, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    @Gupta.Ankur... the Australian 'public' judges individual performances more at home than away, is what is being said here, not the team performance, or the opinion of the players themselves! And judging by a lot of comments on cricinfo, Indian supporters already think their team is #1 based on home form alone... and @jonesy2, what's so shocking? Just because you may not like Clarke, doesn't mean he isn't a capable captain.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | November 30, 2011, 9:11 GMT

    47 all out.............. 47 .....

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    New Zealand are confident of putting up a good showing, but I still think the Aussies may end up taking the series 2-0. Why I say this? I predict that with Ponting getting a lifeline to his career, he'll score big runs knowing that the Indians will be coming hard. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid again may make the bulk of the runs for the Indian team.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | November 30, 2011, 8:51 GMT

    again another shocking article.

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    Clark gonna prove that he is definitely the best one because he is an Australian captain. He is the best of all. I want media not to keep pressure on him.

  • POSTED BY nzcricket174 on | November 30, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    Yep they talked the last Gabba pitch up so much and it was rubbish. Hoping for a better one this time.

  • POSTED BY Gupta.Ankur on | November 30, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    Its rather strange to hear that Australia will be judged "more" on the basis of their exploits at home, rather than away.......

    On that basis alone, India should be the best side in the world by a fair distance.......

    But, probably different standards apply for some teams......

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  • POSTED BY Gupta.Ankur on | November 30, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    Its rather strange to hear that Australia will be judged "more" on the basis of their exploits at home, rather than away.......

    On that basis alone, India should be the best side in the world by a fair distance.......

    But, probably different standards apply for some teams......

  • POSTED BY nzcricket174 on | November 30, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    Yep they talked the last Gabba pitch up so much and it was rubbish. Hoping for a better one this time.

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    Clark gonna prove that he is definitely the best one because he is an Australian captain. He is the best of all. I want media not to keep pressure on him.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | November 30, 2011, 8:51 GMT

    again another shocking article.

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    New Zealand are confident of putting up a good showing, but I still think the Aussies may end up taking the series 2-0. Why I say this? I predict that with Ponting getting a lifeline to his career, he'll score big runs knowing that the Indians will be coming hard. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid again may make the bulk of the runs for the Indian team.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | November 30, 2011, 9:11 GMT

    47 all out.............. 47 .....

  • POSTED BY sawifan on | November 30, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    @Gupta.Ankur... the Australian 'public' judges individual performances more at home than away, is what is being said here, not the team performance, or the opinion of the players themselves! And judging by a lot of comments on cricinfo, Indian supporters already think their team is #1 based on home form alone... and @jonesy2, what's so shocking? Just because you may not like Clarke, doesn't mean he isn't a capable captain.

  • POSTED BY Mervo on | November 30, 2011, 11:39 GMT

    In 50 years of watching Australian cricket - I cannot think of a Captain who is less respected by the public and the players. Clarke is there because the former Chair of Selectors wanted him there. There would be 3-4 players who would be more respected captains. The cost at the ticket office will eventually turn the tide against him, and he will have to resign.

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 11:46 GMT

    clarke should be teh aggressive one and go in with four pacemen at teh gabba...any needed spin should be taken care of by clarke himself..new zealand have shown a confident batting lineup but pattinson and starc have put in the longhauls necessary for test pacemen...it should be a good test but probably not as dramatic as the fist test against south africa...all the tactics needed are generally to decide which paceman goes first and how to control teh match if it goes erratic batting wise or bowling wise...australia has not made too many batting changes despite a poor display in south africa...i did think that they should have tried cowan but the new selectors probably thought that a new set of fast bowlers and warner were enough major changes...probably frightened the selectors enough who think that age is probably a good thing for batsmen but not for bowlers

  • POSTED BY on | November 30, 2011, 11:53 GMT

    well i think it is quite a joke too consider noel lyons as experienced when he has never even bowled at teh gabba before...and siddle is more of a workhorse than a fast bowling leader...?a captain only gets tested under pressure...his century in south africa when everyone could not score and teh second test outcome probably gave him enough confidence...obviously new selectors and new captain and new coach regard new bowlers as essential rather than new batsmen...if new zealand can get teh first four wickets quickly it should be an easy match for them