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Former Australia captain, now a cricket commentator and columnist

Why Aussie fans are cheering for England

Because the olde enemy could help their side make it to the World Test Championship

Ian Chappell

January 16, 2011

Comments: 43 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke have a discussion, India v Australia, 2nd Test, Mohali, 4th day, October 20, 2008
Michael Clarke will need to establish some ground rules if Ricky Ponting hands the captaincy over to him but continues in the Australian side as a player © Getty Images
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Series/Tournaments: England tour of Australia

Dear Everton,

Thanks for your latest email but I could've done without being reminded of the Ashes and your joy at predicting the result. You didn't, however, warn me of the fallout that follows such a catastrophic series.

The chairman of selectors appears to have talked himself out of a job, the captain is fighting to retain his post, there's talk of a future captain who isn't even in the side, and the team is struggling to make the final four to participate in the ICC's proposed World Test Championship in 2013.

Next thing you'll predict Australia will soon be languishing with your mob, the woeful West Indies. Sorry mate, a cheap shot, but it's painful having to send you a carton of Bella's Garden Shiraz. I should never have weaned you off rum to savour the delights of South Australian red wine. And to think I forgot Richie Benaud's warning; "Never bet on anything that can talk."

Anyway you're right about Andrew Hilditch. His comment, "I think we've done a very good job as a selection panel," won't qualify for any peacekeeping awards when so many Australians are angry with the team's poor performance. Following the outcry over his comments I doubt Cricket Australia has any option other than to omit Hilditch from the panel. Under his chairmanship the selectors have made a few blunders in the past, but Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath covered them up. The toughest time for a selector is when you virtually have to get every decision right - and even then the side might not be good enough.

Interesting question you pose about the rise and rise of Tim Paine. He's a good cricketer, one of the best of the younger brigade, but you're right, it's a bit premature to be promoting him as a future Test captain. As you said, "Dem no even dig Haddin grave yet." Brad Haddin was one of the more successful players in the Ashes series and he doesn't deserve to be sacrificed in the haste to unearth a captain.

There are a few things Australia could copy from England's current approach but not their outdated method of choosing a captain. The idea of appointing a captain and then selecting the other 10 players is flawed and Australia shouldn't head down that path. However, it is, as you suggest, an indication of the turmoil surrounding Australian cricket leadership that they seem to be doing just that.

There's no doubt Ricky Ponting should step down after the World Cup, and Michael Clarke is the most likely successor.

There are a few things Australia could copy from England's current approach but not their outdated method of choosing a captain. The idea of appointing a captain and then selecting the other 10 players is flawed and Australia shouldn't head down that path

I don't know if you saw the footage of an injured Ponting around the team in the lead-up to the SCG Test. His constant presence as the players prepared for the match made life difficult for Clarke. If Clarke does take over and Ponting is retained as a player then the new skipper will need to be strong. Clarke will have to set Ponting straight on the ground rules, otherwise his leadership style will be compromised.

A new captain has to stamp his authority on the side. You're right, Everton, this will be a real test of character for Clarke and he'll need everyone in his team pulling in the same direction. As with all captains, the leadership aspect of the job is crucial and if Clarke's appointed, he needs to spend plenty of time earning the respect of his team-mates.

Now Everton, make sure you're sitting down and mellowed out, listening to Bob Marley's rendition of "Buffalo Soldier" before you read this next paragraph.

Australian cricket fans have to start barracking for England. Yes, that's right, cheer for "Ye Olde Enemy," as you like to describe them. The Australian team, now in fifth spot, have little chance of getting past India, South Africa or England to qualify in the top four to play in the ICC's proposed World Test Championship. That leaves fourth team Sri Lanka as the side Australia aim to displace, and this is where England has to help out. If England can repeat their Ashes form and defeat Sri Lanka at home and the Australian touring side also beat them in August, then the boys in the baggy green would move into fourth spot. So Australia badly need England's help.

It also wouldn't hurt, Everton, if you dragged yourself away from those domino marathons in the cosy back bar at The Black Swan in Notting Hill and cheered for the home team when Sri Lanka play at Lord's. I know it goes against the grain but these aren't the glory days when West Indies, and then Australia, dominated the game. As you advised me in your email: "Dem what's strugglin' have to grab any morsel."

Cheers mate,

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

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Posted by AussiePhoenix on (January 19, 2011, 16:45 GMT)

Yes, I agree. INDIA won't be holding on to number 1 spot for long. The greats will leave and soon after so will all the smiles from the faces of those people who are laughing at Australia right now.

Posted by SamRoy on (January 19, 2011, 11:59 GMT)

Hey @diri after first test in Centurion you were predicting how India is going to be whitewashed 3-0 in SA. Yet without Kallis' heroic effort and Dhoni's defensive field settings coupled with Zaheer bowling regularly at 117 kmph and Ishant bowling rubbish bailed SA out from a precarious position of 130/6 and helped them avoid a certain HOME series loss vs India. What will happen to SA after Kallis retires mate? I agree with Ian Chappell that England have the best bowling unit in the world. But how many great batsman does England have? ONE. KP.One very good one --STRAUSS. Rest are good but vulnerable. India have 5 -- yes 5 great batsman. And another potential 4 in the pipeline (Virat, Rahane, Mukund and Rohit). And India are still beating SA in SA (without just Kallis) without any of their 5 great batsman. So India bashers please dream on! Beating India in India at KANPUR neither England nor SA can accomplish in the next 10 years.

Posted by titansnights on (January 19, 2011, 8:30 GMT)

plz dont talk about India here..India is the no.1 and how can no.4th team in the world or for the matter, people from such a poor cricket playing nation can talk about India here..........which is such a dominating force in world cricket

Posted by bumsonseats on (January 18, 2011, 17:25 GMT)

i think the way england works re the captain then 10 others is not the way it has happened for as long as i can remember. i cannot think of the last captain that was not worth his place as a cricketer maybe mike brearley on ability but as he won 15 out of 25 inc 2 ashes series was a very good captain and looking thru the list from 1970 i cannot see 1 example in over 40 year. so this time ian i think you are talking tosh. dpk

Posted by titansnights on (January 18, 2011, 2:10 GMT)

@Kaze: cricket is a sport mate..if you dont have sportsmanship or the spirit to be a fan, plz dont watch cricket...Thank you, friend

Posted by Mitcher on (January 17, 2011, 23:26 GMT)

Rajeev Tn: So what was Sreesanth engaging in during the heated series against South Africa? Or for that matter James Anderson during Ashes? All teams sledge. Take the blinkers off.

Posted by Kaze on (January 17, 2011, 23:16 GMT)

For me, the Australian side is just setup wrong. If it were my choice I would have Hussey open with Hughes and make Hussey the captain until he retires. I would also stick Clarke back at 5, have no idea why he's at 4 when he was making loads at 5, some positions just work for people. My side would be this for the next series: Hughes, Hussey, Ponting (if not available then Khawaja), Watson, Clarke, Smith, Paine, Johnson, Hauritz, Bollocks and Siddle (with Harris and Hilfy competing for Siddle and Bollocks spots). After Hussey goes Paine becomes captain.

Posted by Wozza-CY on (January 17, 2011, 22:29 GMT)

Michael Clarke doesn't have the respect of his countrymen or his players it seems. I see they have no confidence in him at all & look to others on the field for inspiration i.e. C.White, Watson, Haddin etc. Clarke seems more obsessed with what's going on with the big screen, what people are saying or what he's 'tweeting'. With the previous mentioned three you have good cricket brains with an 'old school mentality'. (That doesn't mean sledging Rajeev Tn & you need to watch more cricket if you don't think other teams sledge). Selectors also need to go because their decisions are confusing & inconsistent!

Posted by   on (January 17, 2011, 19:30 GMT)

i agree with with sean... brad haddin seems to be the man - captaincy material...

MJ Clarke is a great player- - but he just doesnt seem to have the ability to lead the side..

Posted by Vilander on (January 17, 2011, 19:15 GMT)

The point is simple, Eng should beat SL in Eng. And then comes AUS in SL.

If Aus manage to beat SL in SL, they would truly deserve to be in the test championship, but the operative word here is 'if'.

Posted by anshu220 on (January 17, 2011, 18:09 GMT)

Aussies need a fresh team, throw out all the old and rusty, and make c.white captain of the t20 and one day side, bring in the young blood. Like India did so successfully

Posted by diri on (January 17, 2011, 13:51 GMT)

The same downfall is awaiting India when their greats retire....mark my words. SA and England are on the way to the top and could dominate for some time

Posted by   on (January 17, 2011, 13:35 GMT)

Currently Australia vs Pakistan would be a good series, two struggling teams.

Posted by sean_kelly on (January 17, 2011, 10:08 GMT)

I get the real impression that Michael Clarke is a bit too soft in the belly to be a captain - let alone an Aussie captain.

In the current squad, why not give it to Haddin? He seems to be made of the right stuff, has the experience and form and seems to have the mental toughness required.

I know CLarke has been groomed for some time, but he has also been a part of the leadership that has faired so poorly over the past few years. They need a clean slate

Posted by   on (January 17, 2011, 8:36 GMT)

It will do a gre8 favour to Aussie cricket ....if they observe that india, england etc are doing really well without sledging,abusing etc......the only way ausssies know how to play cricket.......With them going down....cricket can once again try to become a gentleman's game.......Not of street bullies,abusers n sledgers.

Posted by Meety on (January 17, 2011, 6:57 GMT)

I am spewing the Test Championship is arriving at a time when the most sucessful Test Nation in history is at a low ebb. I really must disagree with all the SL fans (I presume) who think that Oz can't win in SL. We have won their in the past, & SL no longer have Murali in their side, Vaas is gone, Malinga is a limited over specialist. I know rain affected the series against the Windies - but really SLs Test form is not very impressive, (I think SL are strong contenders for the WC). I think the Windies played well but SL never really looked like beating them. Anyways - win/lose or draw I look fwd to the challenge. I think Bangladesh & Sri Lanka are my second favourite sides for the WC.

Posted by mishvik1 on (January 17, 2011, 5:31 GMT)

@Kaze, yes only Indian masters are ageing and Kallis, Hussey, Ponting and others applying Oil of Olay on their Cricket Skill to get younger. Enjoy Cricket mate, irespective of the nationality. Do you not enjoy a good movie, whoever from whichever country has produced. Same way enjoy Sachin, Perterson, Watson, Kallis for their game.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2011, 5:02 GMT)

game spirit is always bigger than countryman.if you love a game then always better side is appreciable and demand.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2011, 3:01 GMT)

Australia have no chance beating Sri Lanka away especially since they do not have a quality spinner. I'm definitely sure that players like Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Samaraweera will still be there come August.

Posted by grg525 on (January 17, 2011, 2:46 GMT)

What is most disturbing about Clarke's captaincy (and in turn the selector's "willing suspension of disbelief"), is that by batting at 3 he is saying to everyone the he rates himself as the best ODI batsman in the country. That such a gap in his view of himself and everyone else's (ie those who booed him last night) exists must surely indicate a mindset that is clearly not objective. Something that is absolutely fundamental in a good captain.

Things have not been right for him (at the very least) since he ridiculously put himself in to open in an international T20 in an effort to find form before the ashes. It is obvious he sees himself as more important than the team, or at best that team can not possibly win without him contributing in a major way.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (January 17, 2011, 2:22 GMT)

Test championship with top 4 teams what a rubbish. It is not possible to have a tournament like that why would some body religate full memebers of ICC from test championship. Westindies was once #1 , australia was #1 , pakistan was in top 2 for some time so how could you miss these three legend teams along with Newzeland from a premier tournament.

I dont like this championship idea, all 9 or 10 teams should participate in that tournament.

Posted by fastcrew on (January 17, 2011, 1:45 GMT)

Australia's dominance in world cricket has collapsed. now everyone wants a piece of the cake. India and England have gotten most of the spoils. sorry aussies, but the cricket world seems brighter when there is not just one dominant team. the tyrant has been defeated.

Posted by gottalovetheraindance on (January 17, 2011, 1:20 GMT)

with many teams losing senior players within the next 2 - 3 years test cricket should get very interesting. will India plumett like an over ripe mango after Dravid Tendulkar Laxman & Zaheer decide to call it quits? can South Africa cope with losing their star wicketkeeper batsman as well as their best Batsman and backup bowler all wrapped in 1? How long will Sri Lanka keep from becoming the new whipping boys after losing Vass Murali Jayawardene Samaraweera & co? will the men boasting about the baggy green's start performing like their playing for the saggy green after Katich , Ponting Haddin & Hussey exit stage right?

What will Pakistan play like without Younis , Yusuf & Misbah ul Haq? & dear we imagine West Indies without the Tiger Chanderpaul & everybodies favourite villain the hit or miss semimaster blaster Chris Gayle or New Zealand without there 'go to' man Daniel Vettori

well i guess for every crisis in the making a few hero's are waiting.

Posted by gottalovetheraindance on (January 16, 2011, 20:55 GMT)

come on Australia are not that bad? are they? if it was not for the rain even West Indies with Darren Bravo , Kemar Roach & Chris Gayle could have beaten Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka last year. their batting is strong but despite jayawardene , Sangakarra & co posting high scores (especially with the slow and & low pitches that are frequently produced) they should not win many matches. it's not like Muralitharan & Vaas r in the test side any more. when they were around they could take 20 wickets frequently. but with Malinga more interested in 1 day cricket winning matches will become increasingly dificult

Posted by NP_NY on (January 16, 2011, 18:09 GMT)

@Kaze. I take your comments ("And believe me a LOT of people will be ecstatic to see India going down") as a compliment. This is the same feeling that the non-Aussie fans had when Australia was almost unbeatable. This is additional proof that the Indian test side is truly on top of the world now. Besides, India probably has a lot more fans than the rest of the cricket fan world combined, so we're ok in the "ecstatic" department! :)

Posted by MasterBlaster100 on (January 16, 2011, 17:58 GMT)

If you look back at the last few Australian captains there is a clear pattern. At the moment when the selectors were forced to choose a new skipper they went for the best bat in the side.

When Border, Taylor and Waugh's form started to slip they were forced out not just from the captaincy but out of the team altogether. And now the same is true of Ponting

Thats just 4 skippers in 25 very successful years

Plenty of other candidates have been pushed by the pundits over that time - Warne, Gilly, Katich etc - but none got the permanent job as they were never Top Gun

So if you are a bookie you can offer long odds on Paine and sleep easy but you'd need to slash the odds on Mike Hussey or Shane Watson!

Posted by Herath-UK on (January 16, 2011, 17:23 GMT)

Ian wake up,with or without English support Aussies won't be able to push Sri Lanka away.Aussies will definitely get a good drubbing in Sri Lanka and we will root for SL in Lords louder than you lot! Ranil Herath Kent

Posted by prashnottz on (January 16, 2011, 16:55 GMT)

Why is that it is so hard to understand the simple mantra - 'Pick your best XI to play, and make one of them the captain'. Australian cricket is behaving like a bureaucracy with too much of buck passing and rigid closeted thinking. At the moment what Australia needs is not a future captain, but 11 players out there on the ground with a burning desire to do the baggy green justice. Once they resolve this crisis and start winning matches, else will all fall in to place. Look at the Indian team. For decades, captaincy of the Indian team was like revolving chair contest. But once they settled on a decent core and started winning matches and dominating the ICC tables, they have not had the issue. Australian cricket needs to understand that it is time they bit the bullet, swallowed some pride and look at resolving the most obvious problem. Nobody should be allowed to travel along just because he is the captain, whether it be Ponting or Clarke.

Posted by Kaze on (January 16, 2011, 15:42 GMT)

Hilarious comment by balajireddy, might I point out that India will be on their way down quite soon. Zaheer Khan in the only proper fast bowler they have and he's in his 30s and you have a gaggle of old men in the batting. And believe me a LOT of people will be ecstatic to see India going down.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2011, 15:17 GMT)

I never thought that the Aussies would come to such a stage where they have to depend on others for qualifying. Surely Aussies beating Sri Lanka in Lanka is next to impossible. & i hope the Aussies realize that their arrogance has done them no good. I would also like to add here that India & South Africa are now playing some top class cricket. Both India & SA seem to have inherited the "NEVER SAY DIE" attitude & are capable of giving any team (Aussies included) a run for their money.

Posted by Pramod75 on (January 16, 2011, 13:42 GMT)

Surprising to see swords hanging on Ponting's neck. If you believed Ricky was the best person to lead when Warne (what ever personal issues he had) and Gilly were around, and believe that the best player and a good thinker in the side should be a leader, then Ricky is indeed the best man to lead AUS even now. Even more surprising that no one is giving enough importance to the player pool. I don't follow AU domestic cricket. But, I havent seen enough good players coming into the side in the last 2 years. Except Watson, there is no player who improved over the past 2 years. AUS bowling and batting nucleus remained more or less the same in the past 2 years. What I do not understand is how is Ponting to be blamed for this issue which I think is the top reason for AUS going down. This surely has to be off field leadership failure rather than on field leadership failure.

Posted by cricketforpeace on (January 16, 2011, 12:32 GMT)

Dear Mr.Chapell, It is indeed sad and ironic that Australia has to reach a stage where you have to depend on someone else to reach the top four for the World Test Championships. This sort of situation used to be quite common in the past for India in innumerable cricketing competitions. Lastly, to hope that England beat Sri Lanka at home and Australia beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka is a bit of a pipe dream. You might realize that Sri Lanka at home are an extremely strong team as India and other teams have experienced many a time. I respect the Sri Lankans a lot. They have classy players and have no such issues such as Australia at present even after taking into account that without Murali, their team lacks a potent spin attack. The positive side of Australia's present woes are that one can only ignore Australia at their own peril. They have a never die spirit which the Indians now seem to possess. Dr Ravi Palur (KL)

Posted by   on (January 16, 2011, 12:30 GMT)

has anyone ever thought of mike hussey being test captain? i reckon he'd be a great leader, i mean, how many times has he saved australia's ass from the jaws of defeat?

Posted by ygkd on (January 16, 2011, 11:39 GMT)

I've been barracking for the Poms all summer. And why not? They've played better cricket. But as for Brad Haddin not being buried yet, his failed attempts at stumpings in the first one-dayer would surely have seen him wanting a hole to hide in. it was painful to watch, but not Paine-ful. So, it's Timmy-time now and I'm not refering to an English kid's show starring a cartoon sheep. Surely, though, Aussies wanting to make 4th spot on the back of a Pom win over the Lankans, is stuff of cartoon capers too. Australia couldn't beat SL in the ODI series. Doubt they'd beat them in a Test either.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2011, 11:32 GMT)

chappelli you legend

Posted by CricFin on (January 16, 2011, 11:02 GMT)

Test Championship is nothing but money making thing for English grounds who cannot play more than 7 test matches in a year.....

Posted by Jethro77 on (January 16, 2011, 10:14 GMT)

I hope you're right about Hilditch getting his marching orders.

Posted by le_stephenois on (January 16, 2011, 10:11 GMT)

England may very well beat SL in England... but the chances of Australia beating SL in SL are non-existent.

Posted by balajireddy on (January 16, 2011, 10:08 GMT)

I wish Australia get through to the test championship. It would be so much more fun to see them getting walloped by SA, India & England. The Australian cricket team ignored a very important adage - be kind while you are going up, else you will get it back in multiples on your way down. No one enjoyed the decline of West Indies cricket, but believe me, everyone is enjoying this about Australia. we are waiting to meet up with all those boors who went strutting about bars a few years ago. Oh what fun it will be to see the Australians floundering against Steyn/ Zaheer/ Morkel/ Anderson/ Smith/ Sachin/ Laxman/ Dravid/ Strauss/ Cook/ devilliers/ Kallis!

Posted by cricsom5667 on (January 16, 2011, 9:55 GMT)

Nice to see your funny bone Ian - didn't know you had one - well written mate. PS: Going by this, there might still be hope for "latent" Greg ;-). Just ask him to switch places of "t" and "l" in his mantra and his reputation as a coach might resurrect itself.

Posted by vikrampranav on (January 16, 2011, 7:23 GMT)

watson should take over captaincy from ponting.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2011, 5:59 GMT)

Wish you had sent it as a private email... yawn!!!

Posted by nzcricket174 on (January 16, 2011, 5:58 GMT)

Ponting is too proud a character to continue playing if he has to relinquish the captaincy to do so.

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Ian ChappellClose
Ian Chappell Widely regarded as the best Australian captain of the last 50 years, Ian Chappell moulded a team in his image: tough, positive, and fearless. Even though Chappell sometimes risked defeat playing for a win, Australia did not lose a Test series under him between 1971 and 1975. He was an aggressive batsman himself, always ready to hook a bouncer and unafraid to use his feet against the spinners. In 1977 he played a lead role in the defection of a number of Australian players to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, which did not endear him to the administrators, who he regarded with contempt in any case. After retirement, he made an easy switch to television, where he has come to be known as a trenchant and fiercely independent voice.

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