Australia v Pakistan, only T20, Melbourne February 4, 2010

Next in line White wants to learn

Mark Waugh believes Cameron White should be Australia's Twenty20 captain. Justin Langer thinks White can definitely lead Australia in the future. The man himself is more interested in learning from Michael Clarke, but it's a scenario that might not be far away after his promotion as Australia's Twenty20 deputy.

White is second-in-command for Friday's game against Pakistan and there is a push for him to take the reins permanently, given Clarke's ongoing back problems and his struggles in the shortest format. The chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch is in no doubt Clarke can contribute as a Twenty20 player, despite never having passed 50 in 19 internationals.

Clarke's style of batting works perfectly in Tests and he's an effective one-day player, but he doesn't typically show the sort of raw power associated with the shortest format. By contrast, White was one of the first batsmen to shine when the 20-over game arrived on the English domestic scene and he has captained Victoria for seven seasons and led them to four Big Bash titles in five years.

"Michael's going to do a great job and I'll just look forward to working with him," White said. "I'm still really young in the [Australia] job as well and very inexperienced at this level, so I think I can learn a lot off him.

"I've been captain of Victoria for six or seven years now and captained a lot of Twenty20 especially, and had some good success there. If that opportunity came that would be great. There would be quite a different level of pressure involved but I'm pretty confident that I could do a good job."

What is not in doubt is White's suitability to the Twenty20 game. The unbeaten 141 he made for Somerset in 2006 remains the third best score ever made and he is the only man to have two innings in the top 10 of all time.

His muscular strokeplay works well in the genre and he will be a key man for Australia in May's World Twenty20, after inexplicably being left out of the initial squad for last year's tournament. His Twenty20 international strike-rate is 150 while Clarke's is 102, but White is confident Clarke can be an influential player for Australia.

"There's times when you have to hit the boundary as well and Michael's a fantastic player and has shots all round the wicket," White said. "In this format of the game it takes a while to work out where you can play those particular shots and Michael having played so much cricket will work that out very quickly. I have no doubt that he'll adapt his very good game to Twenty20.

"You've got to find the way to take the pressure off and get the ball to the boundary at certain stages. The statistics show there's still quite a lot of dot balls in Twenty20 cricket as well, so one of Michael's great strengths in one-day cricket is that he doesn't face a lot of balls in a row."

The first challenge for the Clarke-White leadership team is taking on Pakistan, the reigning World Twenty20 champions, at the MCG on Friday. It's a chance not only to complete a Test, ODI and Twenty20 clean-sweep against the visitors but also to sow some seeds of doubt in their minds, with the two teams set to play each other in the pool stage of the World Twenty20 in the West Indies.

"They're the best team in the world at this format of the game. I think it suits them very well, you get to play with freedom and not a lot of fear. They can go out and play the way they naturally do and let their talents shine through. We'll have to play exceptionally well again to beat them."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments