Australia in Bangladesh, 2011 April 4, 2011

Clarke intent on gentle start


Michael Clarke's first tour as captain of the Australian team will be the last of the Ricky Ponting era, as the new captain said he would wait until the conclusion of the brief Bangladesh trip to impart major change. Clarke, speaking for the team in the minutes before its departure from Sydney on Monday morning, indicated that the three ODI matches in Bangladesh would be a chance to ease into the role without any significant upheaval of team dynamics.

"We're fortunate we have these three one-dayers now and then we get a good break, so it's allowed me to just focus on these three one dayers, not look too far ahead, and not think about changes that I feel might need to be made," Clarke said. "It's just been about coming home, do what you can do to prepare, concentrate on the series, and when I get back from Bangladesh I can worry about whatever else I have to worry about."

Clarke's leadership style is already known to those who have played under him, effectively leaving only Ponting to get used to the concept of taking orders from a new leader. "A lot of the guys have played under me in one day cricket or Twenty20 cricket so they know how I go about things," said Clarke. "I am a different person to Ricky but the way he's led the team for a long time the guys are certainly accustomed to, so it's going to take time for guys to adjust.

"For me it's about being open, letting the guys know if there's anything they need any time, 24/7 they can knock on my door, they can call me, and I just want everyone to have the freedom to be who they are, and play the cricket they love playing."

The notion of subtle change is supported by the presence of Ponting himself but also the long-time team manager Steve Bernard, who has presided over every Australian tour since the 1998 visit to India, but will finish his fulltime tenure once the squad returns home from this journey. Accompanying Bernard is the new manager, Gavin Dovey, who was recruited after spending time as manager of the England rugby union team.

Much like Clarke, Dovey has a difficult act to follow, for Bernard's unique blend of cricket experience - he was a New South Wales fast bowler then a state and national selector - and an amiably organised manner made him the ideal "fixer" on tour.

"Brute (Bernard) has certainly seen the start of my career, and he's here now so he's been a wonderful help, not only to me personally but to a lot of the guys who've played cricket for Australia," Clarke said. "He's been a great team manager, he's made our lives a lot easier by how organised he is, and his knowledge of the game is something I think people certainly when he's gone will realise how good a cricket brain he had.

"Not only was he a successful player himself but the amount of cricket he's watched and seen and the ups and downs he's seen the Australian team go through it's knowledge not many people have at the end of their careers. So he's certainly going to be missed, hopefully we can make this last tour a great one for him."

A little bleary-eyed following a 5 a.m. wake-up call, Clarke said the captaincy would not really sink in until he led the team onto the field for the first match of the limited overs series on April 9. "I don't think it's sunk in just yet, but I'm excited, I know what's ahead of me and my goals are simple," he said. "We go to Bangladesh and want to win this series. When I take the field and have the chance to walk out first in front of the team, it will probably sink in then."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vivek on April 5, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    i cant understand what daniel christain and o'keefe need to do to get into this squad...they deserve to be in the eleven but they r not in the fifteen...poor decision on the part of side (15 man)..1.watson 2.haddin/wade 3.ponting 4. clarke 5.white 6.m.hussey 7.daniel christain 8. o'keefe 9.johnson 10. lee 11.siddle/pattinson 12. finch 13.butterworth

  • David on April 5, 2011, 5:56 GMT

    We don't have a lot choice with the captaincy and one hopes Clarke matures into the role quickly. Put Ponting at 5 in tests and 3 in ODI. Our team needs match winners and players like Christian, O'Keefe and Smith should always be in the ODI teams. They should also be in our Test Team along with Andrew Macdonald. We should be building teams for the big double Ashes series and the next World Cup and so you get the young players in and stick with them. If they cannot prove themselves in the next 18 months then by then you may have more choices anyway. Copeland, Starc and Pattinson and Hazelwood also need to be blooded for the Test team, each supporting, Johnson, Harris, Bollinger et al.... The current selectors want too many each way bets to try and win now rather than build for the future.

  • Andrew on April 4, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    @ ShaonX - its more about the fact that the W/Cup 2011 is over, whats done is done. We need an eye firmly on the Home 2015 W/Cup. There is an expectation that ANY side we send to Bangladesh SHOULD win 3-0, but thats beside the point (& a little arrogant too as I firmly believe that the Bangas are improving & nerves did them in the W/Cup so they will be much tougher opponants in a bi-lateral series).

  • Andrew on April 4, 2011, 23:09 GMT

    re: Christian - point to consider (although I do know this is subject to scrutiny). Watson v Christian in List As; Batting ave - Watto 38 v Dan C 40; Batting S/Rate Watto 83 v Dan C 102; Bowling Ave; Watto 31 v Dan C 34; S/Rate; Watto 37 v Dan C 33; Economy: Watto 5 v Dan C 6rpo. On those figures you could say that Dan C would add some real explosive thrust for Oz if he got a go. Batting wise Dan C is TWICE as good as Hastings, & comparable in terms of bowling. Not against Hastings being in the squad - just think that Dan C should get more of a go! @VivGilchrist - agree 100%! We have nothing to gain & a lot to lose by sending a similar squad that relinquished the Cup. IF we had of sent a younger side, we would have had so much to gain regardless of whether we won the series or not. Blooding players now seemed to me to be the smart option - as far as Cric Oz is concerned - not so!

  • Andrew on April 4, 2011, 22:59 GMT

    @Jason Scott/Witty/SeaforthA1 - re: O'Keefe. I have also noticed O'Keefe's List A isn't exactly brilliant, but I believe that since he as performed well in Domestic & International T20s, he must be able to translate that into List A & ODIs sooner or later. In the end of the day Doherty got selected to play Tests & ODIs for Oz with fairly poor List A & 1st class statistics - he was only bowling really well in Domestic 20/20. O'Keefe is the ONLY Oz spinner who is taking 1st class wickets BELOW a cost of 30 runs a scalp (read 24!). The guy has something that not many other spinners in Oz have at the moment - genuine credentials! re: Christian; like with O'Keefe - he was good enough to get a go in the T20 format, he has performed reasonably well in List As this year, he SHOULD be given a go with the next W/Cup 4 yrs away. His bowling can be erratic - he bowled poorly against the Poms in the PMs XI game, but batted very well. I think he gives Oz a bit more of an X-Factor.

  • Nahid on April 4, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    I am a BD fan. "To Mr Winsome" you seem to be a bit angry with the comment you made about Australian selectors. To be honest with you, end of the day it doesn't really matter who plays for Australia because they all are very good players. I don't think tigers can win the series but if they play good cricket then they might win a match at most but if they do win the series then I will be over the moon but it's unlikely.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2011, 17:57 GMT

    Nothing to say......... . Clack will be failed as Captain. Ausi will loose the last oneday against Bangla spirit.....

  • Robert on April 4, 2011, 16:58 GMT

    @Jason Scott. I believe Something_Witty is pushing for both Christian and O'Keefe because they can both bat well. 2 of the players selected for this tour Doherty and Hastings (who they should replace) have pretty much the same bowling ability as Christian and O'keefe. Why not select players who have more to offer all round and are younger? I agree with Witty and am equally frustrated by poor selections.

  • Graeme on April 4, 2011, 16:47 GMT

    I think that making Clarke the Captain may become an accidental stroke of genius by the selectors. If he succeeds, which I hope he does, then Australian cricket will be back to where it should be, at the top. If Clarke fails, then they have put a player to the sword that really does not have the universal confidence of the Aussie public. Clarke, for whatever unknown reasons, has never had the popular appeal of many of his contemporaries. I think the biggest potential bonus in his captaincy is the return to form of Ponting. Unburdened with being the captain, perhaps we will see a Tendulkar like resurgence. Ponting was always the engine room of the Aussie batting line up when they were crushing opponents in the mid 2000's. If he bats like that again, then the discussion of whether Clarke was the right choice for captain will be over. If he bats like he is currently, then we will be grasping at straws again to find the right captain, and the right mix of young players to blood in the team

  • laxman on April 4, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    When 35+ hardly have a chance to play next world cup, it does not make any sense in chosing Ponting and Hussey. May be the team needs a new coach and a new batch of selectors as the teamk is in rebuilding process. And rebuilding begins with change in the team that manages the affairs. Its time to introduce Marsh, Warner, Finch, Harris, Nathan, Boulinger whenever they are fit, to clear the deadwood.

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