Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth

Different worlds collide as Clarke and Cook hit 100

Two very different men will have the honour of captaining their countries in their 100th Test with the Ashes at stake

Jarrod Kimber

December 12, 2013

Comments: 61 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke watches his wife, Kyly, pose for photographs, Melbourne, February 4, 2013
Michael Clarke: stylish on and off the field © Getty Images
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Alastair Cook tweeting about his surprise wedding and putting up a picture of him leading his new bride on a white stallion would seem odd. As would a picture of Michael Clarke dressed in military fatigues or with a dead deer at his feet. Cook isn't about to make much of his body a canvas or become an underwear model. Clarke isn't likely to wear gumboots and tend to his livestock before dawn. Clarke and Cook are two very different human beings.

A Google image search of Michael Clarke will come back with a man who has posed for as many cameras as any wannabe starlet. Red carpets, underwear shots, shoots for GQ, he has done them all. If you're an Australian cricket fan under 20, you could be forgiven for thinking Michael Clarke has spent your entire life staring back at you in a sultry way or with a painted on smile.

Cook's image search is mostly made up on him looking stern or pensive. Generally on the field, or at a press conference. There are very few shots of him doing anything fun (painting nude girls and holding up a cricket bat in a naked shoot are the exceptions, not the rule). On the occasion he does pose, you often get a look at his hypnotising eyes, eyes that seem to trap you, and which would be better used by a dystopian dictator looking to instill fear into the population.

Clarke's image and game has been sharpened and pushed by a series of well-meaning people. Some who have made much money and great reputations from a stylish batsman. Like many working-class kids who find money and fame early on, he made the most of it. He bought showy cars, lived in the flashy part of town, ate at the cafes where the paparazzi hung out, and dated a C-grade celebrity.

Slowly he grew out of that. At its worst, his hometown paper called him a tosser, he felt the need to tweet an apology for not walking, and he was booed at the SCG in his first Test as captain.

Cook's life has always been a bit more straightforward. He went to Bedford, a school with Nobel Laureates, Olympians and the school attended by Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson, Richard Branson's grandfather. He was a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral School. Two-and-a half years into his international career he had his first book out. In it he tried hard to distance himself from his middle class background, but a few paragraphs later talked of how his family often skied.

He is barely seen off the cricket field, isn't the face of many products and almost unbelievably for a professional sportsman of his age, isn't on twitter. Cook left his wedding in a tractor.

The off-field images of them are also pretty accurate of the way they play.

Cook looks after himself, does what he has to do, isn't always stylish or pretty, but is damn effective. Leads from the front at No. 1. Takes few chances. It has been written that if he had to, Alastair Cook would give birth. It wouldn't be pretty, but he would get it done. Robotic and efficient, at his best he makes massive scores without a bead of sweat. The sort of leader his country has always respected.

Clarke is stylish on and off the field (I'm sure that line has been used in the thousands of lifestyle pieces on him). When he started he was brash and aggressive, now he is smooth and reliable. Bats down the order, in part, to shield himself from the swinging ball. Willing to gamble, but never as much as people say. A nervous starter with pretty feet who once set, especially in his home country, is almost impossible to dislodge. A new leader for a changing country.

But Cook and Clarke have had amazingly similar cricket careers. They even both married women they knew before they could realistically be presumed to be future Test captains.

Clarke started in Bangalore with a blazing hundred. Baggy green on his head, he was the symbol for Australia winning their final frontier in India. Cook started in Nagpur, holding England's top order together with a half century in the first innings. Then making a hundred in the second dig to push the game beyond India's reach.

Both had major obstacles to overcome once they had been in the side for a few years. Cook's technique had never been textbook, but with a stagnating career average (it was roughly 42 for 30 Tests), and a sudden angled bat that kept nicking off, Cook had to do something just to get on the tour to Australia in 10/11. In the second innings of a game Pakistan were dominating, Cook made 110. Two Tests later he would play Australia at the Gabba.

 
 
Clarke not the tactical genius he gets credit for, nor the terrible man manager everyone assumed. Cook's captaincy is predictable and safe. His team currently look a bit like him, out of answers, and unable to capture the magic they had previously
 

Clarke was the golden boy of Australian cricket. He had won in India. Taken on the English bowlers. And seemed indestructible. But he got trapped in a vicious cycle as the boy who didn't want to be dropped. The worse his form got, the more the press talked about this once in a generation boy not being the missing link. It seemed like he could think of little else. Eventually he was dropped. But thanks to a gift that has happened to many Australian batsmen (a Shane Watson injury) Clarke was brought back, cleaned up his game, kept the ball on the ground and made lots of runs.

They both know what it's like to play in one of their countries' most successful teams. Clarke came into the team in 2004, has won a World Cup, and enjoyed everything that goes with being the number one Test team in the world. Cook was a major part of England becoming number one, and producing a new, if albeit brief, golden era for English cricket.

Both were also the apprentices for the top job well before they got it. Despite much psychological testing, a thorough interview process and England's endeavour to do things by the book, Alastair Cook was only not getting the job if he shot Giles Clarke in a hunting accident.

In the modern era no new Australian captain has been as hated as Michael Clarke was. Yet, there simply was not another option when Ricky Ponting stepped down. Strauss and Cook would appear far more similar than Ponting and Clarke, but the "break your arm" comment would suggest that both men learn from their seniors.

As captains, both men have averaged more than their career average. Cook even managing to do so without the very constant daddy hundreds he made under Strauss. His overall average should still be higher, but despite this he will retire England's highest-ever scoring Test batsman, unless a giant anvil lands on him within the next two years. Clarke is averaging a staggering 63 as captain despite the fact he took over after one of the worst summers of his career. In the summer of 2010/11 Clarke averaged 17 in seven Tests. Suddenly being called a tosser and booed wasn't his biggest problem.

They both changed their careers, and public perceptions, with Everest runs. Before Cook's innings at the Gabba last Ashes, he was seen as a one-dimensional plodder who could score handy runs but wasn't a game or series changer. That one innings, followed up with Adelaide, changed how everyone saw him. In two series against India he did it again. And suddenly the plodder became a batting monolith.

Clarke had taken over as full-time captain for tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa. As is often the way, Australian tours, Ashes aside, are not really poured over the same way. Instead of 20 to 40 press in the box, it's two to four. Instead of free to air, it's cable. So, even though Clarke played one of his greatest innings in South Africa and drew an away series with a heavyweight, few noticed.

They did notice when Australia managed only to draw a home series against New Zealand. So in his next series, against a rapidly declining India, he had to win, and win grand. The winning took care of itself when at Sydney he changed his public perception (probably forever) with a triple century whilst wearing the baggy green. Tosser pretty boy was gone; true Australian hero was born.

As captains, both men lead much as they play. Clarke is attacking and stylish, yet still flawed. He's not the tactical genius he gets credit for, nor the terrible man manager everyone assumed. He has survived two coaches being sacked, stood down from his selectorial duties and is currently running a team much in his own image. Not for the first time Australian cricket looks like it could be getting something right, but it's fallen hard on its face in recent times after good series. Whether they are playing well or not, Australia still seems one massive collapse from a disaster, something Clarke's batting will try to hold together.

Cook's captaincy is well thought out, predictable and safe. He took over a machine that had just started to show some wear and tear. Strauss, Hugh Morris and Geoff Miller are all gone or going, Andy Flower is the only one who remains from England's amazing two years. When Cook took over, he fixed the broken Pietersen situation, defeated India from behind and then won the Ashes. He was on a roll.

Now his team has run into Mitchell Johnson, every flaw they had has been opened up. His team currently look a bit like him, out of answers, and unable to capture the magic they had previously. But they are still the team that made it to number one, with most of the original playing parts still here. Cook and his team can still turn this around.


England captains Alastair Cook and Charlotte Edwards muck in on Cricket Force day at Harrow Town CC, London, April, 5, 2013
Alastair Cook: down to earth (as the photo suggests) © Getty Images
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Somehow these two men with similar cricket histories and vastly different personalities have ended up playing their 100th Tests together. Thanks to Mitchell Johnson, the news is not really about them. And with Sachin clocking up 200, and many other players passing 150, 100 Tests is no longer the number played by the only the iron men of cricket. Clarke has brought his up in under 10 years, Cook in under eight.

You could argue who is greater and who has achieved more, but such conversations are mostly useless and should be kept in bars or 2am twitter fights where they belong. They're both pretty damn good. And they both have interesting futures as leaders.

Clarke will hope this isn't a fluke and Australia is finally back. Cook will be trying to work out what has caused this decline, and what to do next.

Before this series Clarke had the Ashes loss and Ricky Ponting's book to contend with. People had openly started questioning whether he was the right man to lead Australia forward. Mike Hussey's book brought back the Clarke/Katich rift, and even the Hussey/Clarke rift, even if in both cases Hussey was trying to be nice. Alastair Cook just tended to his sheep and gave the occasional positive press conference.

There are still many photos to be taken of them in their careers, or even in this series. Clarke's current twitter avatar is one of him looking disappointed in the rain of Old Trafford. The promotional photos for the Ashes before the series have Cook with an easy smile on his face, next to a stern Michael Clarke. Right now, those photos could be reversed.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by   on (December 17, 2013, 8:22 GMT)

@jagger that point marks the nonsense pat in you u failed to look over the career span of tendulkar I bet u ,he is the worst player only if one in 100 international players in ny coming generation Can able to dream abt that career And No One can You may started to watch clarke , wen the television come to ur house But tendulkar,he is from a generation older dat

Posted by Jagger on (December 16, 2013, 6:02 GMT)

@ akpy - There are currently 20 players with better career averages than Tendulkar. Clarke is just an average of 1 run behind him, so may in fact go past Tendulkar this Ashes series.

It makes me laugh when people say Tendulkar is second only to Bradman. Many argue he wasn't even first of his generation.

Posted by brisCricFan on (December 16, 2013, 0:04 GMT)

@akpy; I don't see it that way... you are saying that Tendulkar is as good as Cook and Clarke combined... I see it that if you look at half his tests, then he is only as good as either Cook or Clarke... If both Cook and Clarke were to play 200 test you would expect that they too would have similar stats to Tendulkar...

We just may never see a 16 year old make a Test debut ever again so his longevity will never be matched...

Posted by akpy on (December 15, 2013, 0:10 GMT)

Cook + Clarke = 200 tests, 15919 runs, 51 centuries, 60 fifties. Sachin Tendulkar = 200 tests, 15921 runs, 51 centuries, 68 fifties

Yeeks, the little master could bat, eh !

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (December 14, 2013, 2:11 GMT)

Although I respect these two guys immensely, I believe years should determine long lasting class. That's why Jack Hobbs is the master.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (December 13, 2013, 23:33 GMT)

Lunge has truly embarrassed himself this time. There's no getting away from it. That is THE most absurd utterance ever on this forum, which hears a lot of absurdity. Lunge, I suggest actually watching some cricket might help. Time to do something more worthy with your ever waking moment

Posted by Int.Curator on (December 13, 2013, 21:53 GMT)

Both great batsmen, BUT

Michael is a far superior captain an tacticianer than Alistair. To report anything else is biased.

One captain is agressive, calculated and constantly dictating the game to get a result.

The other passive, plays negatively to get draw, indecisive and constantly consults his team.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2013, 18:36 GMT)

The writer failed to mention that they are good looking too!!!My girlfriend absolutely drools over both of them:-P

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on (December 13, 2013, 16:04 GMT)

Before Lunge had us believe England would canter to victory and nip back home for the open top bus parade (we don't make a fuss about beating England, it happens so frequently). Now come the excuses. Lack of preparation? Is that what caused the almighty England to be hammered? Whatever Lyon is doing he is doing it a lot better than Swann, in fact Lyon's zooter is virtually unplayable!

Posted by valvolux on (December 13, 2013, 13:48 GMT)

Cook is no strauss. Just like ponting was no waugh. When you inherit a good team, your personal batting and team results take care of themselves. Clarke inherited a team on decline, which has apparently only got worse, but has taken his batting to a whole new level with zero support from others and has a captaincy style that makes a mediocre team sometimes beat the best. Cook is a class bat, but hes no clarke. In terms of captaincy, cook is even further behind.

Posted by AMMAR323 on (December 13, 2013, 11:36 GMT)

congrats to clarke and cook.

Posted by brisCricFan on (December 13, 2013, 5:41 GMT)

@Checkthefacts; that's a bit out of order given that the whole point of the article is to look at the two very different paths and histories of the future captains... by necessity the writer must look at what has gone before to give an insight into how these two are different and similar...

Posted by Checkthefacts on (December 13, 2013, 5:12 GMT)

For God's sake could Journo's stop dredging up ancient history on Clarke and reflect a little more on the fact he's one of the top 5 batsman the country has EVER produced and is now one of the most astute Captains in the game. Get with the program Kimber and co.

Posted by Thegimp on (December 13, 2013, 1:34 GMT)

What is all this "Tired from playing back to back Ashes?" about? Don't two teams play Ashes?

Posted by   on (December 13, 2013, 1:21 GMT)

Why are you guys mentioning Smith? This article is about Clarke and Cook. Stuck to the topic! I'm a West Indies fan and south Africa is my 2nd team so I'm not hating. But like I said. Stick to the topic.

Posted by Chris_P on (December 13, 2013, 0:56 GMT)

Laughs @ Front-Foot-Lunge . Is that your best shot? You must be in extreme pain to be clutching straws. Keep up the comedic relief, your village is enjoying your contribution.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2013, 0:47 GMT)

Both Captains lead with their batting form. Cook is a much more pedestrian Captain when fielding, where Clarke seems to have a desire for aggressive tactics, even when they aren't working. For me, this series has been more of a dispaly of 2 different approaches to coaching, with the captains reflecting the will of the coach

Posted by Marcio on (December 13, 2013, 0:08 GMT)

Not sure about Smith. Like Cook, he seemed mechanical and unimaginative and overly defensive on SA's tour last year. He looked totally clueless once Australia started taking his team apart. If not for the good fortune of Australia being reduced to three bowlers at Adelaide very early in the test and the subsequent rotation farce by the Australian selectors at Perth, he would have lost that series. He did nothing proactive at all once things began to slide. A bit like Cook. Notably the SA supporters were absolutely laying into him half way through the series. Of course, they will now lay into me for saying the very things they themselves stated before unbelvable good luck changed things for them in that series.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2013, 0:06 GMT)

@Victor Southern - Smith is a very fine captain, his record is outstanding. However it is statistically biased in a way that makes direct comparison of records with Cook and Clarke meaningless since he was granted the captaincy very very early in his career. The fact that that happened does not make him intrinsically a great captain while all others pale into insignificance.

Posted by binny78 on (December 12, 2013, 23:48 GMT)

Neither are a patch on Stephen Fleming as a captain!

Posted by LoungeChairCritic on (December 12, 2013, 23:47 GMT)

@anton1234 I agree with you that Stephen Fleming tactically on the field was 1st class. He thought outside the square in regards to field placings and bowling changes. Graeme Smith is a real fighter. You don't become a captain at 21 for nothing. Although he is probably from an English background, he has an Afrikaner mentality in regards to sticking his chest out and not being afraid of anybody. I do agree it would be hard to mesh all the different cultures in the Saffers side. Clarke like Fleming is a proactive attacking captain who does think ahead. Like Fleming he hasn't had the cattle to back up his attacking plans. Cook in my opinion is more reactive and way more defensive. He is more of a leader that likes to lead by scoring runs. You can see that he is a really decent person and well liked by his teamates. I think Cook will be tested once a few of the English experienced campaigners retire. In time he will grow into the role and improve.

Posted by whensdrinks on (December 12, 2013, 23:45 GMT)

Congratulations to both of them, two class players. Cook is too good a player for his slump to last although as an Aussie I hope it lasts another 3 tests! Clarke had his doubters, including me, in that he seemed to selfish to be an effective captain, but I must admit he has grown into the job.

Posted by brisCricFan on (December 12, 2013, 23:40 GMT)

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics!!

Smith, a man I have great admiration for and whom I regard one of the greatest openers of the modern era came into his captaincy in his early 20's (was he 23??). No other established team would consider that and in many cases, our young talent are older than that when they break into the side... so comparing Smith by weight of runs alone or number of victories is like saying because SRT has scored the most runs ever no one else comes close... someone else noted that Clarke and Cook combined only just outscored Sachin in the same number of tests... that to me says that if either Cook or Clarke were to play the same number of tests they would have the same number of runs...

I think what we can all agree on is that two players have reached a wonderful milestone which speaks of itself the ability of these men... lesser talents don't get to 100 matches for their country. Well done gentlemen, you have done your countries proud.

Posted by RJHB on (December 12, 2013, 23:01 GMT)

Would agree that Fleming from NZ was an excellent captain, maybe the best this century. Waugh was good, especially with man management, though there were notable exceptions eg Slater. Waugh did make a few glaring tactical blunders though, Calcutta especially. Absolutely do not agree that Smith puts everyone else in the shade however. He may have lots of records as captain but if you do it for long enough you'll accumulate those anyway. On field he has plan A and that's it. The brilliance of Steyn, Amla and Kallishave often covered his inadequacies as captain. In all but one series against Australia, SA have been touched up by the Aussies aggression, even if results don't always bear this out. Say what you like but the truth is SA were thoroughly outplayed last summer until Amla came out in Perth and did what he does best- thrash opposition bowlers! Result was 1-0 but could easily have been 1-2. Smith is rubbish as captain, down there with Dhoni!

Posted by johnnycash on (December 12, 2013, 22:32 GMT)

This test will be over earlier if Clarke employs two leg slips and no fine leg when the quicks are on. He should have learned from the Gabba and had Carbery a lot sooner then they did.

Posted by Tyrion_1645 on (December 12, 2013, 22:31 GMT)

This test match can turn out be one of the rarest of matches. If everything goes well, all three players : Clarke, Cook and Pietersen, can reach their individual milestone of scoring 8000 test runs in this match. Well, the odds are pretty high, aren't they ? Let us wait and see as to what transpires.

Posted by android_user on (December 12, 2013, 22:28 GMT)

@Robert Roemer - England are getting beat because of being tired from back to back Ashes?

I'm sorry mate, please tell me more about how you are more disadvantaged than Australia in this case?

Posted by magpie22 on (December 12, 2013, 22:18 GMT)

Ok, guys, and gals, who would captain your world Test XI if the team was picked purely on playing merit. That means Clarke, Cook, Smith, Sangakkara and Dhoni are in. For mine, it's Clarke, just over Smith and Dhoni.

Posted by chicko1983 on (December 12, 2013, 22:14 GMT)

Graeme Smith wouldnt have got a game in Australia until 2007 when Justin Langer retired. Its lucky he was playing for the no.3-4 test nation when he was so young and all those records you have stated come with being the longest test captain ever, by considerable margin, an not because of any outstanding reason. Ricky Ponting superseeds him in every way, if you divide those stats by the number of tests they captained.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 12, 2013, 21:51 GMT)

This Perth Test should be an absolute Classic. I am pretty confident that the Australians will win this but I do not think it will be the slaughter that most people seem to think it will be. England have some great players in KP, Cook and Bell and Broad and Anderson will both be a handful if there's a bit of breeze and swing around. England are hurting and they will definitely come back hard. Any complacency here could see Australia lose this match, although I think Lehman will keep everyone on the boil. If England go down badly here, I will be surprised and a heavy defeat would certainly signal that this England team has long since peaked and are in terminal decline.

Posted by jeauxx on (December 12, 2013, 21:39 GMT)

Just wanted to chime in to say excellent article. I'm really loving the comparisons between captains and their sides at the moment, it's making for a really interesting Ashes, and Jarrod's done a good job capturing that.

Posted by NAP73 on (December 12, 2013, 21:25 GMT)

Love the bit re "But thanks to a gift that has happened to many Australian batsmen (a Shane Watson injury) Clarke was brought back". I wish Watson was dropped for good, but it looks like it will never happen. Anyhow, Australia still has weak batting. Warner is hit and miss but worth keeping for aggressiveness etc., a bit like the Sehwag mould. However, apart from Clarke and an aging Haddin, there is not much else. Why is England not doing better in the bowling department?

Posted by pat_one_back on (December 12, 2013, 21:00 GMT)

@Robert Roemer, your suggesting Clarke is Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up? Everyone evolves & changes as they mature with experience on and off their respective field. I agree he's the same person but no-one reaches 100 tests and captaincy unchanged. Clarke's proactive relinquishment of selection duties was a clear sign of maturity in recognising the impact it had on his team, his resilience to Pontings indulgent & unnecessary 'behind the dressing room door' stories another clear sign of maturity. He's ridden out a rough cycle in Aust cricket scoring huge runs, setting smart fields and had plenty of captains wickets to his name, you obviously have a gripe so maybe it's you who refuses to change.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on (December 12, 2013, 20:56 GMT)

Lunge, well, parity restored, sights reassigned, all good.......... Apart from the nearing

Posted by   on (December 12, 2013, 20:25 GMT)

Graeme Smith holds the world record of captaining in most test matches (102-101 as captain for South Africa, and 1 for ICC).[70] Smith holds the world record of highest number of wins in test matches as a captain with 50 wins. Smith holds the most number of centuries (15) by a captain in test match wins. He also holds the world record of a non-wicketkeeper taking most catches (82) in test match wins. He is the same age as Clarke and has scored over 9000 Test runs at a touch under 50 - almost all as an opener. He is the greatest Test captain of recent years.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2013, 20:00 GMT)

Not sure Clarke has really out-captained Cook but he has rallied his troops well and has won 2 important tosses, scored 2 tons and had a rampant, resurgent near unstoppable Mitchell Johnson. Adelaide could well have been different if Cook had won the toss, with the side they selected they really needed to bat first and when he called wrong again they were always gonna be in trouble.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 12, 2013, 19:26 GMT)

@Robert Roemer, I though 'b2b' ashes, were going to be the opportunity for a 10-0 whitewash, but now it's an excuse for complete abject folding in the face of touch cricket on undoctored pitches, apparently.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 12, 2013, 19:22 GMT)

@FFL, 'lack of preparation'? Are you serious man, he has just had a good look at Australia over 5 matches barely 3 months ago and while England won that series, any captain worth his salt should have seen the paper thin cobbled together final 3 wins due solely to the extraordinary skill of one man, Bell. Not only that but even if he was surprised at the Gabba, he had 10 days to regroup, if the Gabba was not 'preparation' then I'm not sure what you would consider adequate preparation. In spite of that, he and his team were caught with their underpants around their ankles on the docile and forgiving Adelaide pitch.

Posted by Cubey on (December 12, 2013, 18:52 GMT)

The 2 posts below make very valid points. Both Cook and Clarke aren't in this league:

Posted by anton1234 on (December 12, 2013, 16:29 GMT) Stephen Fleming was the best captain by far in the last 15 years. He really managed to get a lot out of scarce resources in NZ.

Posted by quittthewhinging on (December 12, 2013, 18:14 GMT) How many opposing Test captains has either of them "retired" ?? Graeme Smith leaves them both in the shade despite having to deal with all sorts of politic pressures off the field.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2013, 18:23 GMT)

It's interesting that FFL keeps criticising Lyon who is statistically better than both Swann and Panesar during the Ashes tests played in 2013. The only series in the last decade where England have really outplayed Australia was in 2010/11. Australia was the better side statistically in both 2005 and 2009 but had a poor umpiring decision in Edgbaston (2005) and their own failure to nail the key moments (2009). So perhaps it could be said they were out-captained in those two series as a result. In 2010/11, the Aussies were simply outplayed (not out-captained). In every other series since 1989, Australia's captains have been about a thousand steps ahead......

Posted by quittthewhinging on (December 12, 2013, 18:14 GMT)

How many opposing Test captains has either of them "retired" ?? Graeme Smith leaves them both in the shade despite having to deal with all sorts of politic pressures off the field.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2013, 17:46 GMT)

This article suggests Clarke has changed; grown up almost. I would suggest nothing of the sort, absolutely nothing has changed, only England are now on Australian soil, getting beat because of Australia's home advantage, tired of playing back to back Ashes, and suddenly Clarke is a "changed man". He is exactly the same person, not an iota difference, so please.. don't make it out to be that he is this brand new Clarke 2.0. He isn't.

Posted by anton1234 on (December 12, 2013, 16:29 GMT)

Stephen Fleming was the best captain by far in the last 15 years. He really manged to get a lot out of scarce resources in NZ.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2013, 16:22 GMT)

I'm shocked at all the Cook bashing that has gone one over the last few weeks. He hasn't been batting well recently that's no shock, but saying that he is an ordinary batsman is ridiculous. The guy has made 25 hundreds @ 48 in 8 years opening the batting.... those numbers alone would refute any such claim. He most definitely deserves comparisons to Clarke.

I think that there is a common misinterpretation these days that unless a captain is being outrageously outspoken in the media, changing his fields every three balls and using unorthodox fielding positions then he isn't being a good captain. That is rubbish, there are many different ways to lead a cricket team (or any for that matter). Some leaders are the inspiring type that get the job done quietly and always look to hold that inner confidence under adversity, whilst some are the more outspoken type. I think the most outspoken Cook detractors are falling into this trap

Posted by DylanBrah on (December 12, 2013, 15:32 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge - You still chirping mate? Pretty sure Clarke is laughing it up, whilst Cook is completely clueless and searching for answers. Australia is so certain to regain the Ashes that many bookies have already paid out all bets on them to win the series. As many predicted would happen -- Cook, Swann, Anderson 'England greats of the modern era' have all been exposed as 'bog average' this series down under. See you in 2015. Good luck with that rebuild champ.

Posted by Selassie-I on (December 12, 2013, 15:30 GMT)

Both excellent captains. Cook is of course better.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2013, 15:20 GMT)

FFL, you confidently predicted that the 'spin twins' would destroy Australia at Adelaide. Just remind me: what happened there? LOL @ reaching back to the last Ashes for a few crumbs of comfort. Anything to avoid admitting that Clarke has comprehensively out-captained Cook in this series so far, eh? Incidentally, Clarke was not out-captained in the last series, and if you believe 'every modern Australian captain' has been out-captained, how do you explain the fact that we kept winning the Ashes? We're still the only side to achieve a whitewash...

Posted by   on (December 12, 2013, 15:18 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge, you've used "modern" twice there. Trying to say something mate?

Posted by CrikiLeaks on (December 12, 2013, 15:16 GMT)

@FFL - talking again? this is bad news indeed. must be time for a thorough thrashing to put you back in your box :)

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (December 12, 2013, 14:56 GMT)

Congratulations to Cook and Clarke whose fates have become so inextricably intertwined. Who will Dame Fortune smile upon the most having appeared to treat both with an even hand? It is worth remembering Bridgetown in 1994 where 60 years of history was overturned by mainly Stewart and Fraser in a stunning victory against the odds after getting out for 46 in Trinidad. As regards batting in Perth Mark Taylor showed exactly how to do it when he just left almost everything around his stumps to score a ton there. Almost all deliveries should just sail harmlessly over the stumps and need not be a danger.Cook himself knows how to do it there.

Posted by Sadip on (December 12, 2013, 14:56 GMT)

Best of Luck Mr. Captain (Michael Clarke).... bring the Ashes back....!! my best wishes to your team....!!!!!!

Posted by MCC_Tie on (December 12, 2013, 14:50 GMT)

G Smith has the wood on both of them.

Posted by wonderstar1 on (December 12, 2013, 14:47 GMT)

FFL Haha.. you are back. whether Lyon is a spinner or seamer or trundler, he is more than enough for your club level batters.

Posted by AJ_Tiger86 on (December 12, 2013, 14:37 GMT)

Clarke and Cook is a ridiculous comparison. Cook doesn't deserve to be named in the same sentence as Clarke. Clarke's a winner and an all-time great batsman. Cook is an ordinary batsman captaining an ordinary team. It's not even close.

Posted by android_user on (December 12, 2013, 14:18 GMT)

Awesome piece. Great insight into each other's raise, fall and fight backs.

Posted by chitti_cricket on (December 12, 2013, 13:58 GMT)

Shoot on the dot mate, perfect description like Mark N of the contrasting personalities. But they both are carrying the expectations of their respective nations and thus are under tremendous pressure. Both performed well at the highest level of this sport very very well and had their names amongst greats. I can never agree one of them is better than other in terms of acumen,skill and leadership, like many others think. They showed equal qualities. In a sport at the end of the play one will certainly come as winner the other loser. One thing you forgot to mention mate, of all contrasts they carried on and off the field, they both failed to show kind of gamesmanship surprisingly when their respective teams were winning. Cook in last ashes and Clarke this series. Is this related to some kind of historic animosity that these two nations carry when they play each other? Don't know that. But would conclude my comment saying both brought joy to cricket lovers across the world. God bless them.

Posted by ross_k on (December 12, 2013, 13:58 GMT)

It seems Lyons 'seam' Has been far more successful than Swanns 'seam'. What's Swann's average this series? England have simply been outplayed so far, no excuses. I'm sure Cook would agree.

Posted by lthornte on (December 12, 2013, 13:37 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge. What lack of preparation? It wasn't any worse then Australia's. England had 2-3 tour matches and looking at the results it seems that they were challenged in each one of those matches, what more could you want?

Posted by CodandChips on (December 12, 2013, 13:35 GMT)

An excellent read. Really interesting.

Posted by android_user on (December 12, 2013, 13:32 GMT)

Congrats both of you.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 12, 2013, 12:54 GMT)

Completely out-captained in the last Ashes (in the tradition of every modern Australian captain) Clarke has been able to rely on England's limited preparation to be gifted the first two matches. Cook's lack of runs certainly haven't helped him, but when a side has got a seam bowler like Lyon as a 'spinner', it won't take too long before the cracks in Australia become cavasses, just like every Ashes series of modern times.

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