November 26, 2013

The Ashes 2013-14

Australia's new Captain Grumpy

Michael Clarke's words to James Anderson during the Gabba Test, and subsequent fine, showed that there is sterner stuff inside the captain than many people suspected, Peter Lalor writes in the Australian.

One rising criticism of Clarke through the past decade is that he has been too conscious of his image. The metrosexual cricketer was thought to spend too long looking in the mirror. Ironically, letting the mask slip in front of the microphone appears to have instantly and inadvertently won him the respect that's been denied by his critics. It was a glimpse of the Sydney western suburbs tracksuit riding up above the Hugo Boss suit. And, if Twitter, Facebook and the like are any guide to the public mind, there's a fair argument that cricket fans prefer an ugly Australian to a pretty one.

In the Age, Chloe Saltau also considers Clarke's channeling of Allan Border's "Captain Grumpy" persona.

The moment Michael Clarke bared his teeth as Australian captain might be the one that finally makes his country appreciate him. The International Cricket Council's decision to fine Clarke for his ''broken arm'' sledge at Jimmy Anderson prompted a wave of public support for a man who hasn't felt a lot of love in his own country despite being the team's best batsman by miles and an intuitive, imaginative on-field strategist.

Also in the Age, Greg Baum writes of the lack of subtlety in Australia's approach at the Gabba, and notes that it was a popular method with Australian fans.

On breakfast television, Women's Weekly editor-in-chief Helen McCabe reflected on the conflicting standards in play. She said the Clarke/Anderson confrontation made for ''good television''. She also said since Australia had won a game at last, she could not find it in herself to condemn Clarke. This seemed to reflect the nation's outlook: even those who typically would query the means found justification in this glorious end. In a perfect world, Australia could have victory without end and unfailing good grace, too. In practice, it rarely works that way.

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