Bangladesh v Australia, 1st ODI, Mirpur April 9, 2011

Clarke backs struggling Cameron White


Though his new captain is doing all he can to support him, Cameron White is fast running out of time to locate the power game that until six months ago had marked him as one of cricket's most fearsome hitters. A dreadfully laboured innings of 20 off 50 balls against Bangladesh in Mirpur summed up White's problems all too well, as he made his customary circumspect start but was then unable to slip through the gears when needed.

By way of a comparison, White's previous international half-century in October last year was a galloping 89 off 49 balls, an innings that for now looks like his last glorious hour. Michael Clarke resorted to pushing White's seldom used legspin as a means of getting him back into the game, but even he admitted White's place would be discussed before the second match on Monday.

"We'll wait and see, Whitey's a huge player for us, not only with the bat but as I've said with the ball as well, he only bowled one over today but I always had that option, which is handy," Clarke said. "Whitey's performed really well in one-day cricket for Australia throughout his career. He obviously hasn't made a big score of late and I know he's working his backside off to try to make that big score. But in regards to the team we'll wait and see, I'll chat to Andrew Hilditch tomorrow and again try to work out what the best XI is going into the second game."

While the two-gear batting approach favoured by White throughout his career continues to malfunction, Clarke was not ready to suggest a change in method. "I don't think so, I think he's had success playing for Australia the way he plays, and I continue to tell him to back himself and do things his way," Clarke said. "He just hasn't been able to get that start and be in a position then to accelerate. So I'm confident if he keeps doing what he's doing, and keeps working as hard as he is, he'll turn it around, because he's got a lot of talent, we've seen that already.

"Conditions were quite hard to start today as well so it did take everybody a bit of time to get in and they've got four pretty good spin bowlers as well."

A victory and a century in Clarke's first match as Australia's full-time captain was an auspicious start, even if the latter overs of Bangladesh's failed chase were decidedly inglorious. For this, Clarke thanked his predecessor Ricky Ponting, who played with striking fluency before he was run out. "Ricky's been so supportive and he's made my job a lot easier by giving me advice and help, and by being one of the boys, which makes it easy for me," Clarke said. "I have a great relationship with Ricky and I was very confident coming here he would do everything in his power to make my job easier to help me out, and I was certainly right about that today.

"I thought he batted beautifully and was very unlucky to get run out. In my opinion he's still one of the best fielders in the world and he showed that today. He's 36 going on 25 at the moment, running around like a youngster and today he batted as well as he did in the World Cup in that last game against India."

Mitchell Johnson, with runs and wickets, was Australia's most arresting performer save for Clarke. "He played beautifully," Clarke said of Johnson. "He's always been a good striker of the ball, Mitch, and it's just about opportunity and spending a little bit of time in the middle.

"He might've mistimed the first couple and then he hit one out of the middle and he was away, so he's an amazing player, a big player in our team in all forms of the game. I think he's enjoyed the chance to bowl with the new ball, there wasn't much swing there today for him, but he bowled beautifully. I thought he and Brett (Lee, in his 200th ODI) did a really good job."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on April 12, 2011, 2:17 GMT

    @VivGilchrist - also re: Smith, I think he has loads more ability & skill then Brad Hogg, someone who was almost an automatic chooice for Oz in ODIs for years, & won 2 W/Cups. Smith has more control (less variation), with his bowling, & is a far better batsmen, both were very good fielders, (although I think Hogg was possibly the best ever off his own bowling).

  • Andrew on April 12, 2011, 2:14 GMT

    @VivGilchrist - if you bothered to read my comment, you'll see thats what I said!!!!! The exception being I would take him on Test tours, given tours often occur outside our domestic season. The big problem with our Shield environment is the odds are stacked against spinners. Captains don't use them well, the pitches are bent towards pace, & our batsmen (contrary to what people say), are very good against spinners. I think Smith is currently good value in Short Forms, needs to develop more in terms of Tests! What happenned to Dan Cullen & Cullen Bailey??? These young spinners were bloody good, they went nowhere, Hauritz had to transfer to away from the Gabba to the SCG, MacGill did the same thing from the WACA.

  • Basil on April 11, 2011, 8:07 GMT

    @Meety, Smith can gain experience playing Shield and County cricket like everyone else. The baggygreen isn't something you get out of the bottom of a cereal packet.

  • Andrew on April 11, 2011, 1:59 GMT

    Richie Benaud is quoted as saying that his biggest wish for the future is that Oz selectors continue with Smith in all their projects over the next few years. Maybe Benaud is nostalgic for a young leg spinner. If I recall correctly, Beanud himself took a while to bloom. Maybe Benaud is spot on the money? With Smith I think he flights the ball well - & in this day & age with bigger bats & smaller boundaries, that shows courage. I think he is worth perservering with, in Tests he needs to continue TOURING, at home I'd like to see him back in the Shield competition. Given leggies can take decades to mature (Dutchie Holland), I think already we have invested well for the future. I think O'Keefe is my preferred option for Tests, happy enough for Doherty to be the main short form spinner. Happy enpough for Hauritz to be in Test & ODI contention too. Love to see if Cullen Bailey is coming back into contention too!

  • Luke on April 10, 2011, 12:13 GMT

    Good to see White get a bowl finally but surely Pup you could have given him more than 1 over???

  • Trey on April 10, 2011, 9:52 GMT

    Agree dsig3 about Smith but he needs to get get some practice back in the state side first. How many games did he play for NSW before he was promoted to the national team? I might be wrong but it was only something like 5, cant tell me thats enough. Send him back to NSW & even give O'Keefe a run or if not Christian.

  • django on April 10, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    I think people need to give smith a chance. The guy is still a baby, he is learning but you have to be blind if you cant see the talent there. White never had half his talent at the same age and is playing his last series. Does anyone remember Watson when he first started. He was rubbish and there where better players queuing up for his spot. Who is banging the door down for Smiths spot?

  • Vijayasanan on April 10, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    There is an International Cricket Series going on at the moment?! :P

  • Dummy4 on April 10, 2011, 6:14 GMT

    What happened to australia? They dropped a class act like damien martyn after one poor ashes series, they used to chop and change ruthlessly if a player was out of form. Now it seems like once you get a call up you stay forever. If Ricky had a lean patch like he just had then he would have been axed before. Remember matty hayden being dropped? Now it seems like they have to prove themselves right all the time and stick to their players. Steve smith has never shown anything to warrant selection. When he first started bowling pies i thought they were worse than cameron whites. At his position they need someone like mitch who can hit big, smith doesnt seem like he can do that regularly. Have to admit hes one of the best fielders going around today however.

  • Peter on April 10, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    Fair comment TEST_CRICKET_ONLY, putting a question mark over Smith. Although he hasn't delivered, I think he's got something to offer down the order (7 or 8) and with the ball in both ODIs and T20s. He certainly can't stay in the Test team, that's for sure. Whatever possessed the selectors to think he has the technique of a Test No 6 is beyond me. Granted, Marcus North was out of nick, but Smith at 6? Decisions such as this and mucking about with the likes of Doherty and Beer in the spin role didn't do a great deal for our Ashes cause.

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