Warne likens Clarke to Taylor
Shane Warne has likened Michael Clarke, the new Australia captain, to a young Mark Taylor, but says he will need to bring a more formal side to his personality in order to be a complete leader. Clarke and Warne remain close friends, and it is arguable that Warne's is the most powerful influence on Clarke's cricket thinking.
In that context, Warne's warmth was understandable, and it was high praise indeed to place Clarke alongside Taylor, widely regarded as the most naturally gifted Australian captain of the past 30 years.
"Michael as a tactician is very, very good, as we have seen in his ODI and Twenty20 appearances as skipper," Warne wrote in his News Ltd column. "His communication skills remind me of a young Mark Taylor, who was the best captain I played under.
"He works well with the bowlers and we don't see him running up to them after every ball - that's a good thing by the way - or looking like a cop directing traffic. Some captains like that because it's a power trip - look at me, I'm in charge.
"His tactics are spot on and his style of play is aggressive. With a team in transition, it's important to put players under pressure; that is, you have to risk losing to win, not be happy to not lose and draw. That way the players learn how to win and learn by their mistakes."
Warne counselled Clarke to add a harder edge to his leadership, making an attacking mindset clear to his team from the start - something Taylor also did. "You can't just be defensive, sit back and hope someone will make something happen. You must be pro-active and set the ground rules out from day one," Warne wrote. "As far as a leader of men goes, this is where I think Michael can improve. The way he conducts himself is laid back and fun by nature, but as skipper he will need to become a bit more formal and firm.
"Sure, keep the fun aspect as that is crucial to everything we do in life - if it isn't fun, do something else. But when I say formal, I mean dealing with the press, sponsors, the board, the corporate part of the job.
"But also just keep being Michael Clarke.
"In dealing with his team, I believe he has their respect as a player, but now it's time to earn that respect as a leader - firstly from the extended Australian cricket family and then the public."
As for the enduring issue of Clarke's public perception, Warne tended to think that the silent majority was in the new captain's corner. "Regarding his popularity, which always seems to be questioned, I actually think he is popular," Warne wrote. "We only hear the people who complain or whinge because they want to be heard. The detractors are in the minority. I think the majority of the public like Pup and the best way to win over the public is to perform as a player and as a team."