Big Bash League 2012-13 August 1, 2012

Clarke solution to Warner problem


Australia captain Michael Clarke's signing of a contract with the Sydney Thunder for next summer's BBL may be the solution to an impasse that had left David Warner curiously unsigned at the end of the competition's primary recruitment window.

Clarke officially confirmed his move to the Thunder on Wednesday, and his signature grants the team the big Australian name they crave to sell their team to the public in the lead-up to season two. It was a role that had been taken up by Warner last summer when he captained the Thunder.

"Playing for Sydney Thunder is a great opportunity for me to play for a team rooted in Sydney's western suburbs as well as to support Cricket Australia in building on last year's Big Bash success," Clarke said. "I am really excited about playing a part in the Big Bash, particularly as it will be against the other Sydney team.

"Not only do I get to play alongside superstar T20 internationals like Chris Gayle and Shahid Afridi but also with a bunch of great young guys just starting to make their mark, many of whom grew up in the west."

However Warner is understood to be keen to move across town to the Sydney Sixers for 2012-13, and had begun discussing terms with the team that lifted the inaugural BBL trophy.

This is believed to have led to an untidy round of discussions between Warner, the Sixers, the Thunder and Cricket Australia, as the opening batsman's personal preference was weighed up against his value as the face of the Thunder and its desired market in Sydney's west.

Apart from winning the BBL last summer, the Sixers cultivated a happy team environment around the SCG under the coaching of Trevor Bayliss and the wider management of Stuart Clark.

By contrast, the Thunder battled for strong results and faced difficulties surrounding their home base at Sydney's Olympic Stadium, with transport believed to be one of several issues for players.

Warner, meanwhile, had also changed management since the summer, moving across from Peter Lovitt's Driver Avenue Group to Tony Conolly's Entourage Management, which handles the business of the Test vice-captain Shane Watson.

As current members of Australia Test team, Warner and Clarke are unlikely to play more than one BBL game, the season-opening 'derby' between the Sixers and the Thunder at the SCG, but their presence in competition marketing and advertising is considered critical to drawing crowds to the games.

Clarke's presence at the Thunder allows the team a major Australian name on which to hang its colours, alongside the high-profile overseas imports, Gayle and Afridi. It also allows Clarke to be more firmly engaged with the western suburbs in which he grew up.

Last summer Clarke chose not to take part in the BBL and concentrated his energies on making a strong start to his Test captaincy of Australia, leading the team to a 4-0 hiding of India in the series played opposite the Twenty20 competition. However he warmed to T20 later in the year, accepting Sourav Ganguly's lucrative offer to play for Pune in the IPL.

This short stint signalled Clarke's interest in making a T20 nest for himself that may extend beyond the end of his international playing career, as it has done for the likes of Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne and Matthew Hayden.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on August 3, 2012, 1:35 GMT

    @zenboomerang - knew would wait til the last minute to post. Intestinal fortitude lacking?

  • Andrew on August 2, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    @landl47 - hopefully T20 cricket will evolve down a slightly different sort of parrallel path where you have T20 specialists. I think Test cricket will still have a comfortable niche in important markets. Batsmen have had it fairly easily for the first 10 years of this century, they could absorb the affect T20 has on their techniques & temprement. Over the last 12 to 18mths, there seems to be a slight trend back towards bowlers through more sporty pitches. I believe that IF his trend continues (please), that batsmen will have to go "back to the future" & get back to more tighter techniques & will start to opt out of T20s during the peak of their powers. I think T20 in Oz at least, appeals to be people who are not keen cricket fans, they like sport, like some atmosphere & it's a quick duration. So it's a different market, hopefully the powers that be, understand they are markets that only slightly over lap.

  • John on August 2, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    @satish619chandar: and some people who thought T20 was a mindless game which only appeals to people who don't like real cricket..... still think it's a mindless game which only appeals to those who don't like real cricket. 25 years from now those who are killing cricket today in order to make quick money will look back and ask themselves: " We had the most beautiful, fascinating game in the world and we destroyed it. What were we thinking?"

  • Roo on August 2, 2012, 3:42 GMT

    I think most of us have watched Clarke bat in 20/20's - slow & twitchy starts that look uncomfortable... Unless he has significantly changed his batting style he isn't going to improve his stats - T20 @21 & 20/20 @21... Even Forrest (in 20/20) has a better average & much better strike rate... & if he changes his batting style, will that affect his Test game?...

  • Roo on August 2, 2012, 3:39 GMT

    @Lovedegame :- "Wish they could pull in some Indians and Southafricans"... Well for the Saffa's its the middle of their cricket season & similar for India when the BBL is on... Though we are lucky we've got Botha for the next few years, plus many great 20/20 players from WI's & Pakistan plus NZ & the internationally retired players...

  • Stuart on August 2, 2012, 2:55 GMT

    Right on; lillie_express. Clarke might even end up as a great Australian captain but so far he's been very ineffective as a T20 batsman.

  • Nik on August 2, 2012, 0:26 GMT

    Weel said Keith Fletcher. People used to wait for famous Aussie Tri-series where all the champs of 3 teams clashes now because of this T20 where there is no technique just bashing the ball in the air has made people lose interest in 50-50 where you need technique plus hitting. Test matches has lost their charm because of this T 20 games. Look at India coz of playing more and more T 20 lost thier Test touch and lost badly playing stupid shots. Players who play T 20 should not play test cricket else they will lose their technique. Shame that cricket will be soon lost into T 20 cricket only. those contest Shane Warne vs Tendulkar, Klusner vs Mcgraths, Cairns vs Walsh or Lara vs Akram in big spell of test matches has been lost somewhere. T 20 - T 20 is ruining cricket. What you need in t 20 is madeness. no more late cuts or cover bounderies. Its just hitting in the air and losing your technique but making some money. T 20 is poor form of cricket

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    Warner is from Sydney's East, Clarke is from Sydney's West... It makes sense that they play for those teams.

  • ishan on August 1, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    Wish they could pull in some Indians and Southafricans, to this would make it al ot like the IPL but in a different atmosphere.. SIGH!!

  • Muhammad on August 1, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    I read in a newspaper that Umer Akmal has signed with the sixers, is this true?

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