July 25, 2013

The Investec Ashes 2013

Tup, Pup and an unwanted historical legacy

While he is regarded as one of the best captains in terms of strategy, Michael Clarke's results as a leader in recent times haven't matched expectations. Andy Bull in the Guardian writes that while it is unfair for a leader to be judged on the basis of his team, Clarke now needs to re-invent his leadership style that was deeply influenced by Australia's past cricketers.

His team have leaned too heavily on him, he has every right to expect more support in return than he has been given. But they have refused to follow his lead. Clarke, one of the best on-the-field captains the game has seen in a generation, would be a great leader of a strong team. But right now Australia need a captain who can bring the best out of his team-mates as well as himself. He has a week to figure out how to do something he seems to be constitutionally incapable of. His method has been to load more and more on his own shoulders. He is such a good player that he has almost pulled it off. But it is not surprising that the strain is starting to show.

Australia's 347-run debacle at Lord's has left many wondering about how comprehensive the series scoreline will be. In the Telegraph, Scyld Berry draws up a comparison between the current Australian side and Henry Scott's team of 1886 that suffered seven consecutive Ashes defeats.

There are still some illuminating parallels between the Australian side that lost seven consecutive Tests against England and the current one under Michael Clarke that has so far lost four. Michael Clarke's nickname is 'Pup', while the Australian captain for three of those seven defeats was known as 'Tup'. When Henry Scott was supposed to be leading Australia on their 1886 tour of England, he spent so much time riding round London in the horse-drawn omnibuses on a two-penny ticket that he was nicknamed 'Tuppence', then 'Tup'. Both Pup and Tup have had their captaincy questioned. Clarke is wise in his changing of bowlers and setting of fields, but what about his off-field man-management? To lose one senior batsman in Ricky Ponting was inevitable, but to lose Mike Hussey - who could still have shown the youngsters how to bat all day - was more than careless.

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