Australia news November 4, 2010

North rejects speculation over Test captaincy

ESPNcricinfo staff

Marcus North has rejected speculation that he may be in line to be Australia's next Test captain. There have been suggestions in the Australian media of a rift in the national team over Michael Clarke's limited-overs captaincy, and position as next in line for the leadership role behind current incumbent Ricky Ponting.

Following a string of disappointing results from the national side, culminating in the dramatic one-wicket loss to Sri Lanka at the MCG on Wednesday, reports emerged of deep divisions in the Australian team over Clarke's grooming as Ponting's successor. But North emphatically denied any truth to the stories.

"What I've woken up and read this morning is completely unfounded," he said. "I've never seen it. I must be playing in another cricket team if that's a fact. Yesterday the feeling in the media is who can replace North and then the next minute I'm being touted as Australian captain. In an Ashes summer you can expect a bit of hype and a few stories but I think we're scraping the barrel there a bit. It's a bit of humour to me. It's just another story, it will be forgotten about tomorrow."

North captains Western Australia, but insisted that leading the Test side was not part of his plans. "Obviously Ricky's here to stay for a number of years yet and Michael Clarke's been the one that's being groomed as the next captain," he said. "When he [Clarke] has taken over from Ricky he's been very, very good at leading the side, it's something that certainly doesn't enter my thinking at all."

North was adamant that he was concentrating on Western Australia's tour game against England, starting on Friday at the WACA, and said that the decision to play in the game and expose himself to England's Test attack ahead of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane was an easy one.

"I never hesitated at all," said North. "When Western Australia gets an opportunity to play a touring side, it's something that we always honour and look forward to as state players. It just gives me a great opportunity to keep playing another first-class game against a quality opposition. If I'm worried about [whether] they're going to come hard at me, well they're going to come hard in the first Test so I expect nothing different come tomorrow."

Mike Hussey, North's team-mate in both the Western Australia and Test sides, also dismissed rumours of trouble in the Australian camp. A recent report in a Sydney newspaper implied a tiff had occurred between Hussey and Clarke over comments Clarke made surrounding Hussey's late arrival prior to the first Test against India in Mohali in October.

At the insistence of Cricket Australia, both Hussey and Doug Bollinger had played in the final stages of the Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa, a tournament CA has a stake in, rather than travelling to India at the same time as the rest of the national team. While Clarke did not specifically name either player, he publicly questioned the decision to play in tournaments such as the Indian Premier League and Champions League, arguing that national duty should be the priority.

But Hussey insisted there are "no problems whatsoever" in his relationship with Clarke, adding: "I have a very good relationship actually with Michael Clarke. We talk about cricket every time we're in the dressing room. I have no issues whatsoever so I'm not exactly sure where some of these so called issues are coming from. I haven't read the article so I don't know exactly what's going on, but all I can say is our team is really tight."

Hussey also played down the media speculation over Ponting's potential successor as Test captain, backing Clarke's position as captain-in-waiting. "I think he's got some very good leadership qualities," he said. "He leads from the front, he's very decisive and he's got a very, very good cricket brain. He understands the game very well, understands the pressures of the game very well and I think he's learning all the time and who better to learn under than Ricky Ponting?"

Australia have struggled in the lead-up to the Ashes and are in the midst of a six-game losing streak, but Hussey insisted a united team would soon be back to winning ways. "In a lot of those matches we've been in great positions to win the game and we just haven't been able to finish it off," he said.

"We just have to keep getting ourselves into those winning positions and then we just have to push even harder on the pedal and really make sure we get a victory and get that winning feeling back. It's a really important time that we stick together to keep backing each other, keep trusting our plans and our processes and knowing that if we stick to what we know works then we will come through the other side."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 8, 2010, 13:39 GMT

    Australian slide started when Harbhajan ended symonds' career and ACB was intimated by Indian board and sided with them rather than their own players. Shame on ACB for finishing Australian cricket!

  • SWAMINATHAN on November 7, 2010, 2:21 GMT

    Hussey should be captain till he retires ....... Pup is still Pup, not yet a fully-grown bulldog (will he ever be ?) ....... Shane Watson should become the new captain-in-waiting ...

  • Dummy4 on November 5, 2010, 21:47 GMT

    @chiefy...I agree that these guys in the team are so much better than us commenters here and we should support them, its just that how can you support old guys who keep underperforming when there are so many young batsmen waiting in domestic cricket? If we were having these losses with young players looking to find their feet at international level it would be easier to deal with, because clearly they are rebuilding. The selectors throw some young guys in, but then they're out in the the next match or series, so we fans have no idea what the heck is going on with the team. Ferguson is a clear example of that - in the squad for a year, gets injured, goes to India with the Aussies, scores runs at home and then doesn't get picked in the home series squads. Which makes it baffling that the consistently underperforming and aged middle order can't get dropped. Oh and how can you leave Doherty out of a team after 4 wickets and a run out?

  • Cric on November 5, 2010, 19:38 GMT

    Australia are in a transitional phase at the moment and their people are quite frustrated that its taking an awful long time. Media- both local and international are having a field day by creating unnecessary stories about the team.

    And people talking about India - get a life, dont drag india into all the articles publiished by CricInfo. This is an article about Marcus North for crying out loud!!

  • RAJESH on November 5, 2010, 13:26 GMT

    I dont know whats funny - Reading about North as a captain or reading about unrelated india-pak comments.

  • Ben on November 5, 2010, 13:08 GMT

    Rather than sit around, speculate and criticise what is going on for our test team, as a country we should show our support for our players. sure, there are some people who might not be considered as the best option at this point in time, but these players are extremely gifted and must have done something to prove their worth to get there in the first place. australia are building a team, and to do that you cant mix and match every couple of matches because one or two players aren't performing. teams cant gel if every player is doubting the safety of their place. it becomes a game to save themselves and a winning result is an afterthought. so what if there are up and coming young players who can't force their way in just yet, their time will come and until then they can only get better. what we need now is support for what we have. otherwise we'll be giving indian fans even more cannonfodder for their hyperbolic 'dominance'..

  • Adam on November 5, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    Oh please be true. Marcus North is not a test quality player let alone being captain.

  • Hector on November 5, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    If this rumour is true clearly someone wants North in the test team no matter whatW. They can't justify picking him for his batting or his little lolly popper let's make him captain. But lets face it: Can't bat, can't bowl, can't field, can't captain. We just have to hope Uncle Claude (or whoever!) wakes up to this fact.

  • Syeda on November 5, 2010, 8:38 GMT

    I guess australia just need some good bowlers. it was really shocking to see aussies losing the first ODI this way. they should bring back brett lee and of course shaun tait can help australia in winning up-coming ashes and worldcup.

  • Wolver on November 5, 2010, 8:12 GMT

    @ wagon_wheel - India lost in Aus 2-1 and did not draw. India have in effect won away in England and Drawn in Sri. As an away record for a so called number 1 team, that is pathetic. And if you now raise that you won in Bang, NZ and WI you will be making a very clear point that the number one rank is comletely flawed. The reality is that the top 5 teams are pretty even, with all being favourites at home and SA being the most dangerous oposition.

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