Australia's troubled tour March 12, 2013

Clarke's cultural decree

Without Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting around to set a cultural example, Michael Clarke has been moved to enforce one by decree
  shares 64

Largely because he was entrusted with delivering the verdict to the public, and perhaps because as a South African he remains the sort of outsider Australians are not given to trusting with their cricket team, Mickey Arthur faced plenty of early heat for the decision to suspend the "Gang of Four". By contrast, the captain Michael Clarke faced very little at all.

Shane Warne and others were exceedingly careful not to name Clarke in connection with the decision, as though hoping it had nothing to do with him. Amid all the jokes about homework, and ridicule of the Arthur and his boss, the team performance manager Pat Howard, there was even the question raised: "why isn't Michael Clarke stopping all this bull****?"

There is a quite simple answer to that. Clarke is not stopping it because he supports it. Moreover, he is not stopping it because as the captain, most talented player and most dedicated member of the team, he had a big hand in starting it. Clarke has very lofty goals for his team, and for himself. His career approach to reaching other summits has been to prepare meticulously, train feverishly and perform fanatically. Anything less is tantamount to treason.

Notions of Clarke as an old-school leader, derived from his natural flair with the bat and in setting his fields, are misplaced. He has the skills of a classical cricketer and on-field captain, but the preparatory habits and single-minded approach more commonly glimpsed in other, more forward thinking sports. His favourite sportsman of all time is not a cricketer, but rather Michael Jordan, that 20th century avatar of professionalism in all its cold calculation.

Just last week, the former Liverpool doctor and Australian touring team medical officer Peter Brukner paralleled Michael Clarke with Steven Gerrard. "They dot every I, cross every T," he told The Sydney Morning Herald. "They're super-talented, but you can see why they get to the top of their profession, because they're totally committed and do all the right things." Comparisons of Clarke with Jordan and Gerrard sit more naturally in many ways than those with Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey or Simon Katich. Clarke plays the game of the Australian trio but does it with the attitude of the duo more commonly found on American and European television screens.

Jordan, for one, was known by his brilliance but also his ruthlessness. In his recent essay on Jordan at 50, Wright Thompson discussed "the ugly side of greatness" and how it defined him almost as much as his unrivalled success. "He's a killer, in the Darwinian sense of the word," Thompson wrote. "Immediately sensing and attacking someone's weakest spot. He'd moo like a cow when the overweight general manager of the Bulls, Jerry Krause, would get onto the team bus. When the Bulls traded for the injury-prone Bill Cartwright, Jordan teased him as Medical Bill, and he once punched Will Perdue during practice. He punched Steve Kerr too, and who knows how many other people."

If falling short of Jordan's cruelty, an intolerance for those unprepared to walk his way has characterised two of the more calculating episodes of Clarke's career. Andrew Symonds was deeply admired by Ponting, but it was on Clarke's watch that the hammer first fell on the allrounder's career. The locum captain while Ponting holidayed, Clarke refused to tolerate a missed team meeting during a Top End series, and Symonds was dropped. Katich's differences with Clarke were well known, and his unwillingness to contribute much more than runs to a team in which Clarke was soon to be captain in 2011 was a likely cause of his summary removal from the contracts list.

It may be said that Clarke has a stricter record as a disciplinarian and demander of high standards than Arthur does. Ghosted columns for News Ltd, commonly the sort of task a cricketer will commit little energy to, are pored over by Clarke as though sacred texts. His often smiling visage for the public and at press conferences hides a stern face and insistent tone in meetings of import. There is nary a single member of the CA touring staff who have not been scolded verbally about maintaining the level of aptitude or preparedness that Clarke requires. His Argus review interview is believed to have been among the most strident. On-field opponents can also relate that Clarke's tongue is every bit as sharp as his footwork.

At length, Shane Watson has been on the receiving end of some of Clarke's more pointed public words. Several times last summer he noted that Australia "beat India 4-0 without Watto". In September, as Watson was flaying bowlers at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, Clarke spoke after a Sheffield Shield game at Bankstown Oval in western Sydney, and when asked about Watson's exploits and form ahead of the summer, remarked on how Test cricket was a different game, and that his own preparation - a looming boot camp with a personal trainer - would be entirely thorough. It cannot be forgotten that Clarke achieves all that he has despite a degenerative back problem that he has not allowed to cow him anywhere near as much as Watson has fallen prey to his cantankerous core.

Clarke admires thoroughness, and despises a lack of it. His dim view of Watson's continued chasing of T20 employment despite his physical frailties and still unkept Test match promise has only grown with time. There have been suspicions too about Usman Khawaja's work-rate. Over the past year numerous others under Clarke's command have fallen short of his expectations, whether it be through turning up late for meetings or training, slipping overweight in-season, wearing the wrong team uniform, or failing to consistently fill out the team wellness forms borrowed from the All Blacks last year.

So the failure of Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Khawaja to carry out Arthur's instructions, in the wake of what was arguably Clarke's most humiliating loss as captain, has brought about something like the Nuclear option. He is known to have raged about the team's shortcomings and shortcuts on an ODI tour of England last year, yet Hyderabad in a Test match was many, many times worse.

A significant problem for Clarke is the fact that in losing Ponting and Hussey, he was shorn of the two best examples of the high marks he set. Clarke had learned those very marks from Ponting, and had them reinforced by Hussey. At the same time both the senior men maintained those standards while also fulfilling an older commission as team men and points of assurance and advice for younger players. Playing alongside Ponting and Hussey, a younger player would want to do the extra work, simply because of who they were.

Until Hussey's retirement brought that phase to a close, Clarke was allowed to concentrate on being captain, batsman and meticulous trainer. Now he has admitted to feeling as much a coach as a player, and this week in Chandigarh has also confirmed him as a ruthless overseer. Hussey and Ponting encouraged a strong team culture merely by example. It remains to be seen whether success can be gained from Clarke's attempt to enforce one by decree.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on March 13, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Wonder how he would have handled his close friend Shane Warne, had he still been playing. Either Clarke would have given up on his principles because of Warne's stature, or Warne would be suspended at least once per tour.

  • Unifex on March 13, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    Clarke is exactly what we need in Australian cricket right now - a guy who's a great batsman and excellent tactical captain, and who wants more than anything to improve and win games. He'll put himself and others through all kinds of hell to get better, and I for one am all for it. We need to raise our standards, and Clarke's trying to do it with every ounce of his energy. Dropping four blokes is harsh, but I can see the strategic sense behind it.

  • Sunil_Batra on March 13, 2013, 2:54 GMT

    The underlying point is that this should have been handled behind closed doors. In the past it would have been dealt with by the senior players on tour. But through bad planning, personality clashes and retirements we now have Clarke leading a very inexperienced and insecure side. Clarke and the other selectors should have put more emphasis on retaining some of these older 'hard heads' rather than on short term form slumps. Haddin is the perfect example. The best sides in any sporting code have a mix of youth and experience. That mix no longer exists in our test side and its character has changed markedly. We can argue the extent to which this is Clarke's fault as opposed to the hand he has been dealt. Without a doubt for me Patts is our best fast bowler and Khawaja our best young batsman and in Khawaja's case he needs a fair crack at the test spot. Interesting to read Hohn's comments today stating that Khawaja is a hard worker while he has been in the bulls, so lets get the kid in.

  • zenboomerang on March 14, 2013, 3:16 GMT

    The whole article is a joke - there are 5 selectors + Dovey, Howard & Sutherland involved in the team management & you may as well throw in the medical team as well - seeing how some of the players couldn't be bothered to keep them informed of their current physical condition...

    Add to that is that under Clarke the team has looked happier on the field with Clarke often laughing & smiling - that would be a rare event for Ponting, Waugh, Taylor over their whole careers...

  • elsmallo on March 14, 2013, 1:30 GMT

    Oh dear. He's a perfectionist, constantly looking down his nose at other people. West Indies didn't mostly do very well under Brian Lara, despite having some excellent players - some great players - and plenty of people thought he was just too 'above it all' to be the right captain. Tendulkar never really captained India, Warne never got the Australia job. Pietersen's captaincy career was short and sweet. You can possibly be *too good* a player to be captain, methinks - other players will never live up to your expectations of yourself. Especially when you are in the middle of a sensational run-streak, and they are mostly flatlining.

  • brad407 on March 13, 2013, 21:39 GMT

    That is not a great leadership skill. Leadership involves inspiring and motivating others, and not forcing them. It is evident that the four players took Clarke and the Coach easy. That itself shows where Mr.Clarke lost the trick. One can be anything, but leadership is a different ball game all together. Look and learn from players such as Dhoni, Fleming, Ganguly & Steve Waugh. Or even from Warne, who is a very unbalanced person, but look at the way he united Rajasthan Royals and brought the best out of them in 2008. That is leadership for you Mr. Clarke!!

  • sudhir98 on March 13, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    I don't think anyone has a problem with striving for more discipline, professionalism. The problem is with the timing. Should you be drawing lines in sand while actively sinking in quicksand? Should you be going "nuclear" while being in the midst of a very difficult tour that too with an inexperienced side? Time will tell if this approach will be beneficial. I personally think he is a control freak and unsuited as captain.

  • Pathiyal on March 13, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    hope michael clarke wont lose the trust of his team mates with this unfortunate episode. i wish shane, pattinson and others return to the scene as soon as possible. a young and healthy aussie team is indispensable for the cricket fraternity. we have already gone thru the pains about the decline of windies team since 90s. great to see them coming back slowly but surely. we have only 10 teams playing test cricket with Ireland yet to.

  • inefekt on March 13, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    Australian cricket is caught between a rock and a hard place. Clarke is a supremely gifted batsman and a very good captain on the field. Off the field he is an immature, vindictive and vengeful individual. He's created segregation within the team and plays favourites with certain players that bend to his will. If he were a Kim Hughes type cricketer, barely averaging 40, then it would be easy to send him packing but he's not, he's had one of the all time great calendar years and is the world's best batsman right now, shading Amla in that regard. We simply cannot afford to lose him otherwise our team becomes something that state/county teams would have a great chance at beating. If Australia picked its absolute best XI then we'd have a top four team, with Hussey it would have had a very good chance of beating England. But this isn't the case and this lot will do well to avoid a 5-0 thrashing once they hit English shores.

  • doubtingthomas on March 13, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    He's courting mutiny, it seems. Disciplined can be infused without being so overtly officious.

  • on March 13, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Wonder how he would have handled his close friend Shane Warne, had he still been playing. Either Clarke would have given up on his principles because of Warne's stature, or Warne would be suspended at least once per tour.

  • Unifex on March 13, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    Clarke is exactly what we need in Australian cricket right now - a guy who's a great batsman and excellent tactical captain, and who wants more than anything to improve and win games. He'll put himself and others through all kinds of hell to get better, and I for one am all for it. We need to raise our standards, and Clarke's trying to do it with every ounce of his energy. Dropping four blokes is harsh, but I can see the strategic sense behind it.

  • Sunil_Batra on March 13, 2013, 2:54 GMT

    The underlying point is that this should have been handled behind closed doors. In the past it would have been dealt with by the senior players on tour. But through bad planning, personality clashes and retirements we now have Clarke leading a very inexperienced and insecure side. Clarke and the other selectors should have put more emphasis on retaining some of these older 'hard heads' rather than on short term form slumps. Haddin is the perfect example. The best sides in any sporting code have a mix of youth and experience. That mix no longer exists in our test side and its character has changed markedly. We can argue the extent to which this is Clarke's fault as opposed to the hand he has been dealt. Without a doubt for me Patts is our best fast bowler and Khawaja our best young batsman and in Khawaja's case he needs a fair crack at the test spot. Interesting to read Hohn's comments today stating that Khawaja is a hard worker while he has been in the bulls, so lets get the kid in.

  • zenboomerang on March 14, 2013, 3:16 GMT

    The whole article is a joke - there are 5 selectors + Dovey, Howard & Sutherland involved in the team management & you may as well throw in the medical team as well - seeing how some of the players couldn't be bothered to keep them informed of their current physical condition...

    Add to that is that under Clarke the team has looked happier on the field with Clarke often laughing & smiling - that would be a rare event for Ponting, Waugh, Taylor over their whole careers...

  • elsmallo on March 14, 2013, 1:30 GMT

    Oh dear. He's a perfectionist, constantly looking down his nose at other people. West Indies didn't mostly do very well under Brian Lara, despite having some excellent players - some great players - and plenty of people thought he was just too 'above it all' to be the right captain. Tendulkar never really captained India, Warne never got the Australia job. Pietersen's captaincy career was short and sweet. You can possibly be *too good* a player to be captain, methinks - other players will never live up to your expectations of yourself. Especially when you are in the middle of a sensational run-streak, and they are mostly flatlining.

  • brad407 on March 13, 2013, 21:39 GMT

    That is not a great leadership skill. Leadership involves inspiring and motivating others, and not forcing them. It is evident that the four players took Clarke and the Coach easy. That itself shows where Mr.Clarke lost the trick. One can be anything, but leadership is a different ball game all together. Look and learn from players such as Dhoni, Fleming, Ganguly & Steve Waugh. Or even from Warne, who is a very unbalanced person, but look at the way he united Rajasthan Royals and brought the best out of them in 2008. That is leadership for you Mr. Clarke!!

  • sudhir98 on March 13, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    I don't think anyone has a problem with striving for more discipline, professionalism. The problem is with the timing. Should you be drawing lines in sand while actively sinking in quicksand? Should you be going "nuclear" while being in the midst of a very difficult tour that too with an inexperienced side? Time will tell if this approach will be beneficial. I personally think he is a control freak and unsuited as captain.

  • Pathiyal on March 13, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    hope michael clarke wont lose the trust of his team mates with this unfortunate episode. i wish shane, pattinson and others return to the scene as soon as possible. a young and healthy aussie team is indispensable for the cricket fraternity. we have already gone thru the pains about the decline of windies team since 90s. great to see them coming back slowly but surely. we have only 10 teams playing test cricket with Ireland yet to.

  • inefekt on March 13, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    Australian cricket is caught between a rock and a hard place. Clarke is a supremely gifted batsman and a very good captain on the field. Off the field he is an immature, vindictive and vengeful individual. He's created segregation within the team and plays favourites with certain players that bend to his will. If he were a Kim Hughes type cricketer, barely averaging 40, then it would be easy to send him packing but he's not, he's had one of the all time great calendar years and is the world's best batsman right now, shading Amla in that regard. We simply cannot afford to lose him otherwise our team becomes something that state/county teams would have a great chance at beating. If Australia picked its absolute best XI then we'd have a top four team, with Hussey it would have had a very good chance of beating England. But this isn't the case and this lot will do well to avoid a 5-0 thrashing once they hit English shores.

  • doubtingthomas on March 13, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    He's courting mutiny, it seems. Disciplined can be infused without being so overtly officious.

  • Mary_786 on March 13, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    @SunilBatra you are on the mark with your comments, i agree completely.

  • on March 13, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    What I infer from the article is that under Michael's and Mick's watch things are very regimental and there is not much fun in playing for Australia at present. Employees are most productive when they are happy in their wokl place and the boss is flexible and reasonable.

  • gamespplplay on March 13, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    For me - Mike Hussey was the successor of Ponting as Australia's captain - not MC.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on March 13, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    Excellent article. What i see is someone in Clarke who has been in a great Australian team and knows what it takes to win trying to deal with some players who think just turning up and putting on a mythical Baggy Green will somehow make them world beaters with a close enough is good enough attitude. I applaud the line in the sand and many players need to have a close hard look at themselves. I suspect some may fall by the wayside and thats no bad thing. What needs to be remembered in all this is also the faults of the selectors (including Clarke) in picking the likes of Maxwell, Smith , Doherty etc for a Test squad. A raising of standards needs to happen everywhere around the team ....lets start with settling 6 batsmen (not ODI players or all rounders or people calling themselves the BIG SHOW) , a keeper at 7, 3 fast bowlers (Pattinson, Starc & Bird for the Ashes supported by Harris & hopefully Cummins) & the best spinner (currently Lyon but with consideration for O'Keefe & Ahmed(?))

  • SRK666 on March 13, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    @Ianbellfan: fair point. The problem is that on the one side there are people saying that we should set the highest standards for international cricketers supporting their country, and they shouldn't shirk tasks set for them by captain + coach. On the other hand, people are saying that successful coaching isn't just about setting high standards, but about being flexible and adjusting your expectations depending on what motivates and inspires a player.

    But both of these are right *in general*. It's just hard to know who is right in *this* case---are Clarke + Arthur being heavy-handed and overly rigid, or are some players being lazy and petulant? We don't really have enough details (really, we've only heard the Clarke/Arthur side of events).

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Whether this disciplinary action is judged as warranted or not will be determined by how well the players perform in the future. Noticeable improvement? Masterstroke. Continued bad form? Coaching failure

  • Helion on March 13, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    @Sunil_Batra:

    What's there to be insecure about for the Aussie team in context of the 'culture' desired by the captain? The rules, information, and what all to be being and doing as an Aussie cricket team member is well and clearly laid out. The guys who are insecure and all are the ones who thus end up choosing so, given that they very well knew what keeps them otherwise.

  • Busie1979 on March 13, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    Nice article. It sounds like playing cricket for Australia would be terrible. I don't see Clarke's approach as positive at all. I don't know Michael Clarke, but these are all traits of a bully. As captain, he may be a good on-field tactician, but for me the best captains/coaches provide inspiration, rather than fear. I'm a believer that people are more likely to perform well at anything if they are enjoying what they are doing. It doesn't sound like there is any joy in the Australian cricket team. No fun. If this article is accurate, I wouldn't want to play in this set up - I'd be playing T20. Clarke is responsible for the premature exit of Katich, Symonds, and possibly Watson and Mike Hussey.

  • on March 13, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    The difference between Clarke and recent great captains like Waugh, Border and Smith is that those gentlemen would have received compliance because of their strength of character and because were were and are, great tough leaders.

    This type of situation would simply not have arisen under their watch.

    The best cricketer in the team does not necessarily make for the best captain.

  • zenboomerang on March 13, 2013, 7:25 GMT

    @Daniel Brettig... Considering Dovey was also a key person involved & Rod Marsh is on tour as the selector for the last 2 games yet without any media/public criticism for them just shows how warped are many of the comms on Arthur who has been the "fall guy" for this disciplinary action...

    Funny we haven't heard anything from Rod Marsh since his arrival in India considering his vast Test experience & coaching roles?... Hmmm...

  • Jimmyrob83 on March 13, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    This is going to be worse than the Kim Hughes saga.

  • VivGilchrist on March 13, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    @Joseph Langford, I agree.

    I don't like the way Clarke puts management ahead of his players. This can only cause fractions . If you express your displeasure or protest you're OUT. It's a dictatorship.

  • ianbellfan on March 13, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    @Nathan_R_Patrick,@MK49_Van: I think you both have completely missed the point. Clarke has an idea of where he wants to see his team in a given period of time and has a roadmap for the same. He is expecting his team to share that vision and scale up. I hardly find anything wrong with that. A case in point is England. Nasser was a tough captain who did not set out to please his team members and yet while Strauss and Cook are walking away with the accolades everybody knows that the process started with Nasser. Graeme Smith was looked up on as a brash and arrogant man incapable of leading. Allan Border was not exactly a teddy bear. Both of them are now regarded as great captains but they endured all sorts of criticism in the initial couple of years. Let us give Clarke some more rope and see if he can transform Australia as one of the top couple of teams of the world.

  • joseyesu on March 13, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    Currently Clarke is the only one who had played along with McGrath, Warne, Lee, Gillespie, Gilchrist Ponting, Hussey, Hayden, Langer - INVINCIBLES. With the team once was and it is now, he may be disappointed. Natural. Even every other nations want AUS to be like that.

  • satishchandar on March 13, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    As a captain, you can demand performance from the team to any level but not these kinds of small things. Warne was vocally strong about the coaching methods and still, the captains preferred him in the team. Yes he is Warne but still, the rules should be same for everyone. The days are not the same. Even the guys who say country is more important than money are now back in frame for t20 leagues. If he is good enough, a player can earn money for living by playing t20 leagues alone. The likes of Symonds won't even care about anything if treated with lots of restriction. Yes players need to be within line but give them some space and have them under that control limit.

  • vswami on March 13, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    There is a danger of Clarke's strong will destroying the team rather than building it up. There is no hard and fast rule, which is what makes captaincy fascinating. The captain needs to coax and cajole the best out of every guy in the team by knowing what makes every one tick. You cant impose the same regimen on Tendulkar and Murali Vijay at all times in the name of discipline.

  • on March 13, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    Wow. Great article Mr. Brettig. I'm inclined now though to withdraw my earlier support for Clarke's austerity. I'm certainly more understanding of it but would want to see greater empathy & wisdom in relationship management demonstrated.

    All comments, especially the analysis of Joseph Langford are good food for thought. The more I read the more I thought about Brian Lara's very limited success as a leader of men at the helm of WI cricket. I'm inclined with this additional info to think that perhaps Clarke went too far by dropping the four players. But what's done is done and hopefully the qualities that shaped and molded him into a great batsman can rescue his captaincy.

    The fact remains, as great an individual player as one might be; as with Lara the captain, its always a leader's ability to manage relationships with those they lead by which their record as team leader is judged. No disrespect to the Prince of Port of Spain, he led WI cricket in very difficult times

  • on March 13, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    so it was Clarke!! interesting!

  • VivGilchrist on March 13, 2013, 3:30 GMT

    Clarke has distanced himself from the team and Arthur is demanding respect without earning it. Time for the coach to go....

  • rajpan on March 13, 2013, 3:27 GMT

    Situation that Australian team find themselves is universal. Every team goes through it once in a while (remember Dravid/Chapell in 2007?). In an indirect way, Dhoni can use the example for Indian team without actually going through the pain!!

  • wake_up_india on March 13, 2013, 3:08 GMT

    Cricket is a team sport, it is not supposed to be a platform to showcase divas. Clarke had asked the team to voice their opinions on how to improve the team's performance. If this is too challenging or too silly for some individuals then they should play some other sport like golf or chess, where the only individual performance matters. I fully support the article.

  • on March 13, 2013, 2:32 GMT

    When you have to throw four players out of your team in the middle of a tour that's going badly, it doesn't say very much about your man-management skills. I'm trying to imagine one of the people who are recognized as great captains - Imran Khan, Mike Brearley, Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, Ian Chappell, Sourav Ganguly - doing what Clarke has just done. I can't see it.

  • Someguy on March 13, 2013, 2:20 GMT

    @kzminn - I think you are wrong about the declaration. They were in such a horrible place, the idea was to send them in and try to take a wicket or 2 to finish the day on a high, then let his fast bowlers have a rest so they could come out hard again in the morning with India already down and still a new ball. It didn't pay off, but lets face it, that last wicket partnership was never going to be the difference between winning and losing. A couple of early Indian wickets could have.

  • AjaySridharan on March 13, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    Management lesson I learned from a very good boss - "It doesn't matter what you said or how right you were...people will forget that. But they will never forget how you made them feel." Clarke would do well to learn that everyone needs to be led differently. Also, respect is commanded, not demanded.

  • SRK666 on March 13, 2013, 1:58 GMT

    The picture being painted here is that Clarke---while a fine batsman, shrewd tactician on the field, and thorough with his own preparation---has some weaknesses with his off-field man-management skills. The impression is that he is inflexible, and reluctant to accept that a one-size-fits-all approach to training, preparation, and team ethos may not get the most out of each player.

    It is easy for Clarke, Arthur, and their supporters to mouth easy platitudes like "no one is bigger than the team" and "we are building a team culture". But this is a lazy defence. The real issue is how *effective* their actions are in building team morale and inspiring players to improve their performances.

    Pattinson reacted well, but he could hardly be accused of not putting in on the field anyway. How this will affect Johnson + Khawaja is unknown, since they're not playing regularly. Watson may have cancelled his own Ashes tour. So this exercise in building team culture has had mixed success so far.

  • on March 13, 2013, 1:47 GMT

    Michael Clarke may dot the I's & cross the T's but he is not a leader nor a great communicator from what I've seen. A cricket team is made up of individuals & getting the most out if them is a skill few possess & Clarke does not have this skill. People should remember how he treated Symond & Katich during his time as VC, not to mention his public criticism of Ponting's captaincy at times. These players gave their all for Australia & deserved greater respect. His personal ambition has been & still is a negative factor. If only Hussey was still around...

  • Nomad82 on March 13, 2013, 1:28 GMT

    Both Watson and Khawaja have probably under-performed relative to their potential throughout their careers. Johnson has a history of the same, but since his injury seems more on top of his game. From other sports, these kind of wake up calls can help make a player, or alternatively show that they aren't mentally up to it. Pattison looks like coming out of this as showing leadership qualities, not so much Watson. Seems similar to the WA situation earlier this year where the Marsh boys got dropped for discipline shortcomings. Both seemed to come out better for the experience.

  • cricketfanwrites on March 13, 2013, 1:27 GMT

    @ Joseph Langford & @Brett Maes well said. When will CA take away the power of being a selector from their captain and let them concentrate on leading on the field? I guess at the conclusion of this series. CA needs to reign in the power of it's captain off the field and hold him accountable for the results on the field.

  • spaceway on March 13, 2013, 1:18 GMT

    It is very easy to throw some one out if he is not in line with you, but the real challenge is to keep him, motivate him and extract the best out of him. Clarke chooses the first approach. He lacks good leadership skills although can be real gem with personal records. Watson is a real talent that has been wasted coz of all of the ego and personal issues.

  • KhanMitch on March 13, 2013, 1:16 GMT

    Disagree with what's been going on. However I do believe there is one underlying problem with the plan for the teams culture. Arthur and Captain Clarke aim for a "winning culture", but they expect that culture to come before the winning actually happens. The culture is an end, not a cause. You need to man manage the various individuals in the side with their different personalities, needs and wants. Work with each player to get the best out of them as an individual. When that happens your batsmen will all score runs and your bowlers will all take wickets and then you will win test matches. It is then, and only then, that a "winning culture" will develop, that's when your side will bond over success and then they will play for one another more than anything. Not the other way around. Patts and Khawaja are 2 of our best players and and both are hard workers but folks keep looking for things to pick with a guy such as Khawaja, He worked his bum off with the Bullss to get to the Aussie tea

  • KhanMitch on March 13, 2013, 0:56 GMT

    @Brettig makes a fair point that Clarke is trying to establish a strong culture in the team but none of the 4 players including Khawaja should be singled out for this. Khawaja's work ethic is very strong and Lehman has stated this publicly under whom Khawaja made the tough strides in Bulls to get back into the Aussie team both with bat and his fielding. Its fair to say that the issues we are seeing are more to do with Watson and Clarke sorting our their issues and hard working guys such as Khawaja and Pattinson have got caught in between.

  • wah_wah on March 13, 2013, 0:48 GMT

    Must say Michael Clarke and Gerard are really similar. With more talented team memers like Baros, Hesky, Owen or Torres around, he lead them to UEFA cup or EPL runners. But now in a rebuilding phase, he is struggling the same way as Clarke.

  • wah_wah on March 13, 2013, 0:46 GMT

    Setting high standards as a player is different from setting high standards as Capain, as Rahul Dravid learnt the hard way. I cannot agree Michael Clarke is a great captain, and an example, in fact other Ponting and Pups are both average tacticians, and comes short when required to lead not so talented people(as Nasser Hussain had to live with) or creating a bunch of talented cricketer(as Allan Border did). Just because he bats well does not mean that he can take it for granted that he is running the team in right way. Not sure if those 3 pointers from people did question his team composition and batting order.

  • on March 13, 2013, 0:30 GMT

    @kzminn: a tenth wicket partnership only really has substance if the participating players are in a fighting mood. Considering the run of play, I very much doubt the last wicket would have put up much of a fight. A declaration at that stage actually supports the declaring side, because it portrays confidence.

    I think the dressing room would have walked out to field in a better frame of mind because of the declaration, than say, if the last wicket fell quickly.

    The ploy did not work in the end, but it was an acceptable risk taken to try and gain the upper hand.

  • on March 12, 2013, 23:32 GMT

    This is why Clarke needs to lose the captaincy. He is a terrible people-manager, as is coming to light. Furthermore, his selections are totally political. He makes good decisions on the field, but makes a lot of decisions beforehand that ensures he doesn't actually have the best XI. Katich would have been a much better skipper.

  • Gizza on March 12, 2013, 23:31 GMT

    Not sure why Clarke is forcing everyone else in the team to follow his style of culture of playing cricket. That's a bit like a sporting dictatorship. The thing is, this action has made Australia more likely to lose the third and fourth Tests in India (even if there was a very low chance of victory before) and therefore goes against Australian cricket. It has also made their Ashes task a whole lot tougher because somebody like Khawaja's confidence will now be shattered making the team batting depth even weaker. So the decision has had a overall negative effect on Australia. The only weak positive is that maybe Pattinson will be fresher after a one Test break but that is clutching straws and unintended from the mighty Clarke.

  • ContentmentISGood on March 12, 2013, 22:30 GMT

    Daniel Superb article!! Clarke has to go and take some leadership courses. Because he has no idea on how to become a good leader. As Henry Ford once said-"Don't find a fault, find a remedy!"

  • sasi_lakki on March 12, 2013, 21:53 GMT

    I don't understand why every cricketer needs to think about their team. If there's a bowler who thinks that heck,all I would do for you is take wickets on the field.. nothing off the field... why worry about ?? Why do you have a head coach, a batting coach and a bowling coach if you still want inputs from players ?? If Watson was concentrating on his own game, thinking about his mistakes.. then so be it.. the mistake Watson did is..to resign from his Vice-Captaincy... As a captain/coach.. you need to handle different types of players.. that's what leadership is about.. Clarke needs to understand that not all players would use his work ethic..

  • TRAM on March 12, 2013, 21:38 GMT

    Excellent article. Reading this article I get a clearer picture. I support Clarke's strict handling of training sessions, but not the managerial actions such as wearing uniforms, coming in time, weekly reporting, etc. Yes, they are part of discipline and dedication, but they rob the fun for *some* players. More importantly, thats NOT what made them talented cricketers. Also, with all the dedications/disciplines, the player should have fun in it, otherwise life is not enjoyable. It certainly differs from player to player. Where to be strict and where to be relaxed (in applying the rules) is key aspect of leadership. Clarke and the coach will learn.

  • kzminn on March 12, 2013, 21:09 GMT

    I am surprised nobody is talking about Michael Clarke's extraordinary declaration in the first innings. Having a possibility of a 10th wicket partneship that could be demoralizing for the opposition especially on the first and second day pitch. I wonder if this is whole mess is a distraction from that unwanted declaration.

  • on March 12, 2013, 20:56 GMT

    Dear Public, ask yourself the following. Who was involved in the following -

    - Selecting the Tour Team, with one real spinner and a keeper who can't keep to spinners - Selecting the Warm-up Teams - Selecting the Team for the 1st Test - Taking Pattinson off after 3-overs when he took 2 wickets and the score was 2/12 - Bowling Pattinson for only 6-overs on the 2nd Day of the 1st Test although he took all 3 wickets. - Said Pattinson was bowled for short spells on Day 2 for reasons of fitness, then bowled him for longer spells and more frequently on Day 3. - Selecting the Team for the 2nd Test, dropping the only real spinner on the team. - Didn't want to bat with the lower order, then declared in a thoughtless manner. - Got flogged in the field while not bowling Lyon and Maxwell together for most of the Test. - Captaining the Team on both Tests.

    Clarke has now sacrificed 4-teammates in an attempt to shift blame. If they get flogged in the following tests he now has his excuse.

  • on March 12, 2013, 20:36 GMT

    An outstanding article; my congratulations. Jack Pettiford, who wrote the classic book "Brightly Fades the Don," once told me that Don Bradman was not necessarily the warmest or most huggable person around. He, like Clarke, was a pretty strong disciplinarian and very meticulous in his team's preparation, down to inspecting the players' boots to see that the spikes were firm. However, he was a fantastic leader, and the team always wanted to live up to his expectations, because he led by example. Whatever criticisms he offered, and he did offer them, he did not humiliate his players in public. I admire Clarke's professionalism, but it is as yet professionalism as a player, not as a leader. Let us hope he matures into being not only a fantastic batsman, but also a great leader of the Australian team. The present incident shows he still has some learning to do.

  • mk49_van on March 12, 2013, 20:30 GMT

    If he is such a great captain - why does the team he leads perform so poorly?

  • Nathan_R_Patrick on March 12, 2013, 20:27 GMT

    A task master that is. Would not work for too long. Team should enjoy what they do. If they are only working towards making Pup happy then it is counterproductive.

  • SurlyCynic on March 12, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    I realise that this 'homework' issue was just the final straw in some ways, but it's interesting to compare Arthur's approach to that of another SA coach, Gary Kirsten. Sure, Kirsten has been fortunate to coach two top teams. But the fact that he has succeeded with such different teams in India and South Africa says a lot for his approach.

    He defines his role in terms of placing more responsibility for preparation on the players, and it is his job to provide them with everything they need to succeed. He provides guidance to the team as a whole, and works individually with players when they ask him to, but his way of involving players is very different to that of Mickey Arthur.

    Kirsten's approach seems to work, whether he's dealing with Tendulkar or a young SA player. He treats players as adults who are responsible for their careers. I think Arthur's approach will only work with certain personalities and he will clash with others.

  • on March 12, 2013, 19:42 GMT

    Clarke is an excellent player, and the additional responsibility of captaining his side has obviously improved his game. However, this does not make him an excellent captain.

    The captain should bring out not only the best in the individual players, but the best out of the team as a whole as well. I applaud his aggressive captaincy on the field, which is good for the game; but the aggressive captaincy in the changeroom is not always good for the team.

    Perhaps, it will take a season or two for Clarke to realise this, as it did for Graeme Smith.

    Leading is about people following you where they want to go, not where you want to go. Here is to Clarke learning this, and becoming an excellent captain!

  • yogi.s on March 12, 2013, 19:38 GMT

    A very good analysis of how big a role clarke has played in this entire episode. I entirely agree with every single point and am in fact reminded of the greg chappell example of how he was ruthless to under performing cricketers until he had a bad patch himself. Essentially what i'm saying is captains will always be unhappy with the players as long as they judge the players with personal standards be it performance or preparation. At this level you have to let the player decide for himself and if his preparation isn't bringing adequate success you can always drop him but you cannot enforce preparation at every level as each player is different. You cannot run a team like an army regiment and this will surely impact the team unity more than enhance it.

  • on March 12, 2013, 19:06 GMT

    This is very immature on the part of clarke. He has not achieved any greatness to behave like one. Him or Arthur will not last long. The biggest problem was the retirement of Hussey. How many times has Australia won or drawn games in Sri lanka and India because of Hussey. Last time Australia was in Sri Lanka they would loose quick wickets but Hussy some how managed to put up a great score. I do not see Australia finding great players anytime soon.

  • DaGameChanger on March 12, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    Clarke needs to understand all 10 fingers are different. There was always characters in your team who are more talented personally than their personality or nature. Its always easy to manage people like Glenn McGrath but you it takes some skills to manage Shane Warne or Symonds.

  • on March 12, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    I attended an event where Imran Khan was asked about how Shoaib Akhtar was managed by Inzimam Ul Haq. He said that a good leader is the one who can get most out of his players and inspires them to perform up-to their true potential. Imran then gave example of Sarfaraz Nawaz (harder to manage according to Imran then Shoaib Akhtar) and how Imran got the best out of him. It is not about making everyone follow your own path of how success can be achieved. Getting to the meetings or training on time, wearing the right uniform or sending failure reports to coach are things that may be important to Clark but on field contribution towards the team cause is what really matters in the end. It is about the result and getting the best out of a player and team. That will define success of Clark as a leader in the end. Loosing talented players like Katich, Symonds and Watson rather than getting best out of them is just failure of Clark as a leader.

  • sandy_bangalore on March 12, 2013, 18:41 GMT

    An excellent read! I really admire Michael Clarke even more knowing this side of him

  • on March 12, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    Being disciplined is important, at the same time it is very important to ensure that the players do not stress out because of this school teacher attitude. You need to give them some space too. At the end of the day, cricket is a sport and not a war!

  • Alexk400 on March 12, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    Clarke methods do not work in overseas tour. It could work at home.

  • on March 12, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    I understand where Clark is coming from. But any team cannot be built by decree be it at work or in a sport. if pnting pr steve waugh had the same philosophy i dont think we would have had the pleasure of watching Shane Warne or Andrew Symonds. Or if this was the case in Indian team we probably would not have had the pleasure of watching a ganguly or Sehwag.

  • tao_warrior1 on March 12, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    The transition into being a coach for Clarke as spelt out by Daniel is near impossible - one cannot forget Sachin's inability to manage roles of captain, coach, and a relentless performer as a batsman together in the 90s.

    With the team in distress, perhaps the Aussie Captain may need to look at who would complement him in his role taking. Micky Arthur does not seem to be an ideal choice. The only person i can think of is Ed Cowan, who can take on the mantle.

  • tao_warrior1 on March 12, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    The transition into being a coach for Clarke as spelt out by Daniel is near impossible - one cannot forget Sachin's inability to manage roles of captain, coach, and a relentless performer as a batsman together in the 90s.

    With the team in distress, perhaps the Aussie Captain may need to look at who would complement him in his role taking. Micky Arthur does not seem to be an ideal choice. The only person i can think of is Ed Cowan, who can take on the mantle.

  • on March 12, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    I understand where Clark is coming from. But any team cannot be built by decree be it at work or in a sport. if pnting pr steve waugh had the same philosophy i dont think we would have had the pleasure of watching Shane Warne or Andrew Symonds. Or if this was the case in Indian team we probably would not have had the pleasure of watching a ganguly or Sehwag.

  • Alexk400 on March 12, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    Clarke methods do not work in overseas tour. It could work at home.

  • on March 12, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    Being disciplined is important, at the same time it is very important to ensure that the players do not stress out because of this school teacher attitude. You need to give them some space too. At the end of the day, cricket is a sport and not a war!

  • sandy_bangalore on March 12, 2013, 18:41 GMT

    An excellent read! I really admire Michael Clarke even more knowing this side of him

  • on March 12, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    I attended an event where Imran Khan was asked about how Shoaib Akhtar was managed by Inzimam Ul Haq. He said that a good leader is the one who can get most out of his players and inspires them to perform up-to their true potential. Imran then gave example of Sarfaraz Nawaz (harder to manage according to Imran then Shoaib Akhtar) and how Imran got the best out of him. It is not about making everyone follow your own path of how success can be achieved. Getting to the meetings or training on time, wearing the right uniform or sending failure reports to coach are things that may be important to Clark but on field contribution towards the team cause is what really matters in the end. It is about the result and getting the best out of a player and team. That will define success of Clark as a leader in the end. Loosing talented players like Katich, Symonds and Watson rather than getting best out of them is just failure of Clark as a leader.

  • DaGameChanger on March 12, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    Clarke needs to understand all 10 fingers are different. There was always characters in your team who are more talented personally than their personality or nature. Its always easy to manage people like Glenn McGrath but you it takes some skills to manage Shane Warne or Symonds.

  • on March 12, 2013, 19:06 GMT

    This is very immature on the part of clarke. He has not achieved any greatness to behave like one. Him or Arthur will not last long. The biggest problem was the retirement of Hussey. How many times has Australia won or drawn games in Sri lanka and India because of Hussey. Last time Australia was in Sri Lanka they would loose quick wickets but Hussy some how managed to put up a great score. I do not see Australia finding great players anytime soon.

  • yogi.s on March 12, 2013, 19:38 GMT

    A very good analysis of how big a role clarke has played in this entire episode. I entirely agree with every single point and am in fact reminded of the greg chappell example of how he was ruthless to under performing cricketers until he had a bad patch himself. Essentially what i'm saying is captains will always be unhappy with the players as long as they judge the players with personal standards be it performance or preparation. At this level you have to let the player decide for himself and if his preparation isn't bringing adequate success you can always drop him but you cannot enforce preparation at every level as each player is different. You cannot run a team like an army regiment and this will surely impact the team unity more than enhance it.

  • on March 12, 2013, 19:42 GMT

    Clarke is an excellent player, and the additional responsibility of captaining his side has obviously improved his game. However, this does not make him an excellent captain.

    The captain should bring out not only the best in the individual players, but the best out of the team as a whole as well. I applaud his aggressive captaincy on the field, which is good for the game; but the aggressive captaincy in the changeroom is not always good for the team.

    Perhaps, it will take a season or two for Clarke to realise this, as it did for Graeme Smith.

    Leading is about people following you where they want to go, not where you want to go. Here is to Clarke learning this, and becoming an excellent captain!