Australia in Bangladesh, 2011 April 5, 2011

Clarke happy to leave Australia


Like war a veteran grappling to come to terms with life in peacetime, Australia's new captain Michael Clarke seemed unreasonably happy to be flying to Bangladesh only a week after returning home from a failed World Cup campaign.

The captaincy helped, of course, but after more than six months of continuous cricket Clarke knows far more of hotels than of home, where in the space of a few days he was harangued on all sides for interviews about his leadership, then captured on tabloid cameras doing nothing much at all wrong to celebrate his 30th birthday.

"I think all the boys were pretty keen to get back on tour," Clarke said. "We've had a week at home and it's felt like a month at home to be honest with the amount of time we spend away these days, but it's going to be a tough tour no doubt."

Tough is not a word habitually associated with Bangladeshi cricket, though visitors to the youngest of Test-playing nations require a certain hardiness to learn to enjoy the heat and humidity, particularly as the climate heats up in April.

Nevertheless, the task for Clarke and company is vexing enough for an end-of-season assignment, taking in dusty pitches, wily slow bowlers and the start of the new International Cricket Council one-day rankings cycle.

Clarke noted quickly that Bangladesh, from their allrounder captain Shakib Al Hasan down, will be seeking to tease the Australians, their bevy of right-handers in particular. "I think the conditions will certainly suit Bangladesh," he said.

"I imagine they'll prepare pretty slow, turning wickets and they've got some very good spinners, especially left-arm orthodox spinners, which with a lot of right-hand batters we have in our line-up they're going to be quite tough. But it's going to be a good challenge, we're looking forward to it.

"We're going to have to learn from our time on the subcontinent recently during the World Cup and then get over there and play some good cricket."

There is much to gain for Clarke over the next week, as he asserts himself as the leader of a group that has only known a world in which Ricky Ponting was king of all he surveyed. Now, Ponting must defer to Clarke, something that will not be as natural in practice as it appeared in theory during last week's bloodless leadership handover.

Similarly, Clarke must take on all the tasks, pleasant and less so, that Ponting has managed. "I really enjoyed being vice-captain for a few years, that was a great experience for me, it showed me a lot of what goes on off the field as a leader in the Australian cricket team and how much it's not just about how you do on the field," said Clarke.

"Ricky's had such a huge role to play in Australian cricket not only on the field but off the field, so I guess that probably gave me the chance to see that and to learn from him.

"So now I have this chance to be captain of Australia I guess it's about using all the experiences I've had in the past when I've had the chance to captain in the one-dayers or Twenty20s, and the knowledge I've been able to build up and learn from Ricky. I think it's now an opportunity for me to go to Bangladesh and to use some of that."

The Australians' last tour of Bangladesh took place in April 2006, a visit marked by a Jason Gillespie double century in the second Test at Chittagong, an innings that has entered folklore almost solely through the relentless promotional efforts of its maker. But Clarke also remembered the first Test of the series, a match in which the Australians trailed by 158 on the first innings before squeaking home by three wickets.

"We've seen before in Test cricket in Bangladesh that if you're not at your best you're going to be put under a lot of pressure, and we know as individual players we have to get better," said Clarke. "As a team any opportunity we get to play on the subcontinent and face more spin bowling I think is going to help all of our players."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Zahidul on April 8, 2011, 8:35 GMT

    Welcome Micheal Clarke at Bangladesh.

    should be it will nice ODI serious for Bangladesh cricket team. Pls. remember New Zeland who already Bangla wash at Banglades. hope it will going well.

  • Dummy4 on April 7, 2011, 2:07 GMT

    It's interesting that so many non-Australian fans think so highly of Ponting still, after all that's happened. The fact is there is actually a lot of great young talent in Australia that's not had the go it's probably needed because of figures like Ponting lingering in the team. Ponting is a conservative captain with regards to selection, and probably if his likely role in Xavier Doherty replacing Hauritz was any indication, simply not a very clever one.

    The team doesn't need to be "held together". It needs to be broken down and rebuilt from brick to brick. Yes, there will be short term pain and some ugly series will have to be endured, but that's pretty much already happening anyway with the ancien regime. Better to plan and invest wisely in a new crop that will have a chance to be competitive in a couple of years, just as Australia did under Border in the 80s.

  • nadim on April 6, 2011, 18:46 GMT

    @Gilly4ever,white is hardly in the team.How could You choose him as a captain??Clarke is most experienced in the team after Ponting.He has been performing well for a long time.And Clarke did it before with success.So what's the problem with Clarke.If not Ponting,then he is the right choice.

  • karan on April 6, 2011, 16:56 GMT

    Aus is incomplete witout rickys role as captain. cum on can clarke handle this declining aus team???????????????????? i think its punter who holded them. lets c wt happens. best luck pup

  • Adrian on April 6, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    I'd rather White as captain. Why isn't he? I laughed a bit at seeing Watson as vice captain. There are better choices about than these two.

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2011, 13:35 GMT

    Instead of swapping captains, australia should swap players, out with cam white, steve smith and hastings. u can't say hastings is an allrounder he avg's 12 with the bat in state cricket and there is much better bowlers then him in the wings. We also don't need doherty we need hauritz back or steve O'keefe, for the tests we need to totally revamp our pace bowling line up, out with hilf/siddle and johnson and include copeland, mckay(when fit) and harris(when fit) . we need smith out of the test side and keep in khawaja, also next wicket keeper behind haddin should be matt Wade becuz he is better batsman then tim paine is and scores a lot quicker, he's probly better then haddin in the shorter formats too, but current form of haddin is great so lets keep him another year or 2

  • Ross on April 6, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    Is he the right man for the job though? CA had ensured that he is Ponting's successor, and I don't know what other realistic candidates there were anyway. The problem is that this Aussie team is still in decline, things will have to get worse before they get better, and as skipper Clarke will get a lot of flak. My impression is that he does not have much support amongst the Aussie public to begin with, so he is in for a bumpy ride. What the Aussies need is a tough-nut like Border or Waugh to haul the team through this low spell, and what ever Clarke may or may not be, he certainly ain't a tough-nut.

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2011, 9:39 GMT

    I will admit to being a knocker of the bloke, but since getting up front of the camera and putti ghis bit forward I have changed and so should australia, he is aour captain now. He seems honest and hard working and thats all we have ever asked of a captain.

    Get at them PUP!

  • Justin on April 6, 2011, 8:46 GMT

    The photo did make me laugh, seeing the 2 new fresh faces of Aussie cricket. I hope they do well on this tour and pull together a competitive side over the years to come. Good luck boys!

  • Shariful on April 6, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    Good luck Michael! It is good to see you captaining the side now on a permanent basis. I do support Australia cricket (of course as my second favorite team after Bangladesh) and would love to see Australia getting back to their best sooner rather than later.

    I wish Aussie team best of luck in all their future series but against Bangladesh. Tigers will give them a tough fight I believe.

    Go Tigers!

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