Australia news November 23, 2011

Arthur arrival has captain's jigsaw falling into place


Having guided Australia through the turbulent first eight months of his captaincy, Michael Clarke is decidedly relieved to have a settled support staff - even if the new head coach Mickey Arthur was not his personal choice for the job.

Clarke returned home from a dramatic but ultimately satisfying tour of South Africa on Wednesday, and though he has a surfeit of injuries to contend with, can look forward to tackling the home summer with a strong network around him.

Along with Arthur, the team performance manager Pat Howard, the national selector John Inverarity, selectors Rod Marsh and Andy Bichel, Clarke will dial into the first major phone hook-up for the new selection panel on Thursday evening, to deliberate on the team for the first Test against New Zealand in Brisbane.

The assembly of cricket experience and sporting intellect is striking, and Clarke also spoke warmly of the assistant coaches Steve Rixon, Justin Langer and Craig McDermott. Rixon was Clarke's preference to become head coach, but pointed out that Arthur's appointment would allow him to benefit from the knowledge of both.

"I'm stoked we've got a coach. Mickey has done a fantastic job in the past with South Africa, and I'm really excited and looking forward to working with him," Clarke said. "I've only spoken to him a handful of times either playing against him with South Africa or over the phone since he's taken over with WA.

"I think Australian cricket needed a coach to be appointed sooner rather than later and I'm stoked that James Sutherland and Pat Howard have put a certain amount of people through a process and Mickey Arthur's come out on top, so I'm looking forward to working with him.

"In my opinion I believe the coach needs to have the support staff around him that he wants and he needs, but if Stumper [Rixon] is the right man for the job, I'm sure Mickey will be more than supportive to see them around, as with Justin Langer and Craig McDermott.

"They're all under contract, I'm not sure how long to, but that's a bonus for our team if you've got some very good cricket minds there, helping us out trying to get us to win games. I think really you've probably got the cake and eating it too with Mickey Arthur and Steve Rixon."

As Arthur's predecessor Tim Nielsen observed, Clarke's draining first few months in the job benefited from the enthusiasm of a new leader. The broadening of support beneath Clarke will now allow him to concentrate on his batting and tactical thinking as the captaincy starts to become less of a novelty.

"It'll probably make a few of our live a lot easier, that's for sure. I'm as excited as anybody to get a coach on board," Clarke said. "There's been some things happening off the field for the last six months, but our job is to perform on the field.

"The communication for me personally with James Sutherland has been outstanding, he's kept me informed on everything that's been happening, from the general manger to the selectors, to now the head coach, so they've tried to do their best and we've tried to do the same. It's nice that it's finished, we have our new general manager, our selectors and a head coach, so it's another reason to be excited for what lies ahead."

Clarke delivered a chuckling "good luck" when informed that Arthur had likened the captain/coach relationship to marriage, but spoke frankly of the need to build a rapport in coming days. Only seven remain between now and the start of the first Test against New Zealand.

"Since Mickey took over the job in WA, we've been in communication, talking about the WA player,s so there's been back and forth communication for a while now," Clarke said. "But the relationship is crucial, no doubt, straight away I respect him for everything he's achieved as a player but also as a coach.

"His success with the South African team is something that I'm sure would've played a part in him getting this job. He's a true gentleman, a fantastic man, and I look forward to learning as much as I can from him and working together.

"To me it doesn't matter where you come from, if you're the right man for the job, the best man for the job, then I believe you deserve to get it. The benefit of Mickey coming on board is he's got some other great coaches around him in regard to Steve Rixon, Justin Langer and Craig McDermott. So some pretty smart cricket minds there, working together I can only see us having more success."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Peter on November 24, 2011, 10:56 GMT

    The difference under the new regime is that both coach and captain are selectors. Will it become a club? How can Clarke assess his own average form in the context of what is best for the team? What is the protocol for the selection panel to follow when the captain's form is poor?

  • Dummy4 on November 24, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    Oh, and I forgot McGain! We, as a nation, should never, ever forget McGain...

  • Dummy4 on November 24, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    @Josh_Schon81 That's the reaction Hilditch was fishing for when he picked Cummins - by that time it was a certainty that he was going to lose the job, so he might as well go with a wild card pick to try and go out on a high. Even then, Cummins wasn't that radical a choice - he's been ear-marked since eight or something ridiculous and everyone was keeping an eye on him. Hilditch just rushed him into the team a year or so before he'd have gotten in anyway.

    People haven't forgotten Hilditch gave us North, Hilfenhaus, Doherty, Beer, an undercooked Hughes, wouldn't drop Hayden, DID drop Katich, lost us the 09 Ashes from a very attainable position, and then went on to give us no chance whatsoever of even competing in the 2010 Ashes. Nor should they.

  • Andrew on November 24, 2011, 6:43 GMT

    @Matthew Maltman - how many WA players are playing well enough to be selected in the Test, ODI or T20 side? In tests - Coulter-Nile, Liam Davis is playing well but needs to do that for a full season as he previously has underperformed. Voges is close but never really asserts himself. If it were up to me he'd play a lot more ODIs. Then who else? North? Please say Hogan, cos guess what? He's from NSW! LOL! Beer from Victoria? Or Mitch Marsh who HAS been selected in short forms? LOL!

  • Dummy4 on November 24, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    I had my own doubts of clarke's captaincy before and right after he took over the job. But, with every tour he seems to be taking control over things that could help australia reach its peak. Even here, his statement of having two minds to take help from with respect to rixon and arthur is excellent. I am sure australia will be back to their best in the near future.

  • B on November 24, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    @Josh_Schon81: Hilditch's balance sheet is very, very red. You don't judge Bradman on his last innings.

  • John on November 24, 2011, 3:03 GMT

    I don't know if anybody here remembers the movie 'Bull Durham', but Clarke's comments put me in mind of the advice given to newcomer Nuke LaLoosh: "Ypu're gonna have to learn your cliches. You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them. Cliches are your friends." That whole interview boiled down to "I'm happy a coach has been appointed." Clarke just said the same thing 16 different ways.

  • Steven on November 24, 2011, 0:30 GMT

    Cummins has taken 6 wickets, come and see me when he has taken 60. One game doesn't make a test player. Hell even Warner could score some runs in a test, could he do it test after test after test, highly doubt it

  • Cricinfouser on November 24, 2011, 0:02 GMT

    @Josh_Schon81 - I think rather than being congratulated Andrew Hildiltch should be criticised for NOT picking Pat Cummins in the 1st test. The series could have had a different result.

  • Dummy4 on November 23, 2011, 23:19 GMT

    arthur as the head coach. We might finnally get someone from WA in the team and not so many NSW.

  • No featured comments at the moment.