Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell Ian ChappellRSS FeedFeeds  | Archives
Former Australia captain, now a cricket commentator and columnist

Clarke doesn't fear defeat

Australia's captain sets aggressive fields and isn't afraid to take a gamble, unlike Alastair Cook, who is typically conservative

Ian Chappell

August 11, 2013

Comments: 91 | Text size: A | A

Tough day: Michael Clarke ponders his options, England v Australia, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 3rd day, July 20, 2013
Clarke isn't the sort of captain to set a defensive field for a new batsman, but he has struggled to get Australia's batting order right © Getty Images

There are a lot of myths surrounding the art of captaining a cricket side. Often the position is given way too much kudos, and at the other end of the scale its value is drastically discounted.

In Australia, the captain is said to be more important than the prime minister. That's codswallop. Many an Australian captain has led his team into battle but none has ever had to make the agonising decision to go to war.

Former Australian legspinner Bill "Tiger" O'Reilly used to regularly write: "My collie dog could captain a cricket team." Whilst I'm an avowed dog lover, I'm also well aware that they have masters, and generally it is cats who lead their servants a merry dance.

However, it's indisputable that Australia's apparent turnaround in the current series is in large part due to Michael Clarke's captaincy. It was not just his substantial innings at Old Trafford but also his thoughtful field placements. By placing challenging fields, Clarke, helped by the accuracy of his bowlers, harried the England batsmen either into error or into finding themselves becalmed. This pattern has continued in the fourth Test.

The crowded on-side catching cordon Clarke has placed for both Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen reminded me of a similar ploy that evolved under Allan Border's captaincy in 1989. This cunning plan eventually eroded Graham Gooch's confidence. Ironically he's now charged with the task of assisting the current England batsmen to find a way out of this maze of fieldsmen.

There's no doubt Clarke is the most aggressive of the current crop of international captains. He has a good feel for the job and he's tactically astute. He's also brave and this allows him to seek victory from the first ball, while understanding that occasionally this will lead to defeat. He hates losing but he doesn't fear it, and there's a huge difference between those two emotions.

The captain who fears losing will not always seek a win unconditionally, while the man who hates the thought of coming second will do all in his power to conjure up a victory.

Clarke's counterpart, Alastair Cook, is more typical of the English breed and tends to err on the conservative side. He was very quick to push the field back at Old Trafford when Australia finally got on top, and this suggested he was happy with a draw to retain the urn. Strangely, for a player who has been a run-making machine since taking over the captaincy, Cook has been tentative in this Ashes series. At times he has searched for the ball like a near-sighted man fumbling for his glasses.

When it comes to placing fields, Cook is stock standard with very little imagination, while Clarke is much more likely to set an opposing batsman a stiff examination. On the score of gambling to claim a wicket, Clarke has the advantage with two wristspinners in Steve Smith and David Warner, who are more likely to produce a "magic ball". On the other hand, Cook was strangely reluctant to use Joe Root much at Old Trafford despite his reputation for being a bit of a golden arm.

Of the current captains, Clarke is the one least likely to resort to the modern fad of pushing fielders back to the boundary even though a batsman is new at the crease. This ploy defies logic because it gives a good player easy runs. It's even more difficult to comprehend when most captains are batsmen and surely must understand how much easier this makes building an innings.

Clarke's weakness as a captain appears to be his understanding of the importance of the batting order. Part of this is due to his preference for batting at No. 5, but it's also his misguided approach, which appears to be based on a typical pub raffle draw.

Australia have a good stock of fast bowlers and this affords any captain a headstart in the search for victory. Clarke, having led the way back from the brink at Old Trafford, will be hoping he has inspired a corresponding response from his fellow batsmen so Australia can confirm that that performance was indeed a resurgence rather than just another mirage.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist

RSS Feeds: Ian Chappell

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by hhillbumper on (August 14, 2013, 21:05 GMT)

Reading this and listening to Shane Warne I had to check to make sure whether I had been watching the same series.It seems that England have actually won the Ashes.Of course we will lose in Australia5-0 but it appears for now England have luckily managed to win 3-0. i just hope Cooks captaincy is not so poor in Australia.As for his batting there he was so defensive last time that he only managed to score a few runs.

I think the mystique of the Baggy Green has somewhat changed and this must pain certain sections in Australia who spent years telling us the Aussie way was the only way. Funnily enough losing Warne and McGrath would damage most teams.Following 2005 the fearsome foursome never played together againb and England suffered.

Posted by jay57870 on (August 14, 2013, 1:58 GMT)

Ian - Shock & Awe? Yes, Clarke does not fear defeat. But shockingly he does not know how to win either! Yes, Clarke may be the "most aggressive" of captains, but what good is it to "seek victory from the first ball" if his team struggles to cross the finish line? Result: It's Cook who owns the Ashes 3-0!!! Shock & Awe: In just one session, Cook & Co snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by affecting a wimpish OZ collapse of 9 for 104! Gamblers, however brave, can't "conjure up a victory". These "occasional" defeats are becoming a bad habit. Test cricket is so relentlessly cruel to teams and their flaws. Yes, the skipper's in the hottest seat away from Canberra: Captain Clarke is presiding over the grand fall of the once mighty OZ juggernaut. Captain Cook, like the original explorer, has successfully mapped & circumnavigated the "aggressive fields" (& troubled waters) of OZ with calm precision & direction. Cook's unremarkable trait: Discretion is the better part of valour, Ian!!

Posted by   on (August 13, 2013, 12:33 GMT)

People seem to be confusing good vs great with aggressive vs conservative. Chappell didn't say Clarke was a great captain and Cook isn't - he said Clarke is more aggressive in his field settings and Cook is conservative.

Being agressive with your field doesn't help if the bowlers aren't sticking to the plan and keeping them on then is not a sign of good captaincy, let alone great. Both Clarke & Cook can be accused of doing this for periods of each of the 4 Tests, so their different approaches have not contrasted so much that one's performances have been so much better than the others.

As others have pointed out, it's easier to bold when the stakes are low (ref pre-Ashes predictions) so that could explain why Clarke & Cook have their respective approaches - having said that, I doubt anyone in the Aus team would feel inferior to their Eng counterpart as then they've already lost the match before it's started! There's a BIG difference between that and respecting your opponent.

Posted by ardoo on (August 13, 2013, 1:31 GMT)

Leave it to Ian Chappell to show how Australia is the best team in the world, regardless of the state of how the team is faring.Of course, Cook would be happy with a draw to secure the ashes, its the greatest prize in test cricket.

Posted by Rohit-Sen on (August 13, 2013, 0:10 GMT)

@ Parth Sharma - thanks for your thoughts on my comments. If you see the scoreline its 3-0 now. Australia had an out of the box glorious start to the chase but ended up losing to un-imaginative captaincy of Cook. But ofcourse Clark is a more imaginative and out of the box thinking captain. Maybe we should call it 2-1 because of that.

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 21:31 GMT)

Cook may be conservative, but it is hard to argue against 3-0 unless this really is the worst Australian side to tour England in the last 120 years.

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 21:31 GMT)

Well the "Article headline" and "Ashes scoreline" have so many things in common. :) Australia are lacking quality batsmen and the dream year (2012) of Clarke as a batsman is over in the blink of an eye. That is the bottom line. As of England they are a self proclaimed BEST SIDE OF THE WORLD! A mismatch really.

Posted by Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on (August 12, 2013, 21:23 GMT)

Is that why he is losing so many matches ?

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 18:11 GMT)

Maybe Clarke is a great player, but Cook is a lucky captain. Would never dispute an ex-Aussie Captain about cricket: he, fortunately, was blessed with a magnificent side to back him up. Cook maybe does it by numbers - perhaps Flower and Gooch are slightly control freaks, Strauss was similar: Vaughan wasn't - he brought a tad of panache especially after the Hussain / Fletcher era. It's a combination thing. Add Cook's luck to Clarke's inventiveness - the ideal Captain. However (as yet) England are not about to penalise an Ashes winning / retaining captain.

Posted by siddhartha87 on (August 12, 2013, 16:15 GMT)

Clarke is a wonderful captain.Sadly a captain cannot taught his batsmen how to play against quality bowler.I like the the Clarke has kept shut Cook and Trott in this series.His resources are limited.Out of current captain he is best by some margin.Some says Dhoni is the best, but when his spinners leaks runs he becomes clueless.

P.S- The possibility of getting my post published is almost 0 as the mod likes only -ve comments about Clarke. :D

Posted by ultrasnow on (August 12, 2013, 13:05 GMT)

'Clarke doesn't fear defeat' does that mean he likes to lose? Sorry but this is not the Australia team of old. For an Indian fan they were always a benchmark and I wanted our team to play like Australia. Now team Australia (and it's commentators) look a dominated lot with a defeatist attitude

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

I believe there is a huge difference between the captain that plays not to loose and the captain that plays to win. Australia has twice managed 16 consecutive wins (albeit in a different time with a different captain), while England's best is only 8. This has been built on the back of captains willing take a risk of defeat for the chance of victory.

Given the respective strengths of these sides the English side should really be 3-0 up, closing in on 4-0 and eyeing that elusive 5-0 clean sweep. Instead they've coasted to two victories, been happy with a draw and given Australia a chance to save some face.

As much as I'm sure the English will take the series win however it comes, its not entertaining cricket to watch a team clearly aiming for a draw by tea on the third day. It's got to be nigh on a breach of the spirit of cricket to take 4 minutes to bowl a ball and having to conveniently clean your sprigs right before the break to avoid an extra over.

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 9:34 GMT)

Ian Chappell's articles are nearly always ludicrously short sighted. He could find a way to put a positive spin on an Aussie batsman scoring 6 consecutive ducks whilst managing to cast doubts on the ability of a non-aussie batsmen scoring 3 consecutive hundreds. As for his comments about the onside fields to Pietersen and Trott. If Clarke was such a cavallier he would have used these fields when Australia still had something to play for in this series - it's not like the Aussies didn't already know how they both favour the leg side. It isn't a case of not fearing losing it's a case of having nothing left to lose that is bringing out this more aggresive approach from Clarke as he wants to salvage something from the series.

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 9:27 GMT)

Didn't feel that Steve Waugh felt he was wanting to win, as in literally, when he played. He just played, as he needed to, and could feel a bit downcast, when things weren't going the way of Australia. It seems, that Steve didn't have a plan A, to win so he didn't have a plan B to win either. He lost a memorable Kolkata Test Match to India, because of this. The Adelaide match under the captaincy of Ganguly, which India won, was because Australia was at sixes and sevens, as India was thinking a bit more than Australia.

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 9:16 GMT)

Mr.Ian Chappel was a good aggressive cricketer and since then has become a very good commentator and cricket analyst.But with all due respect some of the articles and comments I've read and heard from him are a bit biased in the sense that he alongwith other fellow Australians just dont want to accept the downfall of Australian cricket from such heights they reached from the mid 90's to early 00's.Everytime he gives an impression that Australia are still one of the best teams around and thats not the case anymore. Australia have a hit a bad low period were they have got some really ordinary players which after one good perfomance are dubbed as really good by the biased Australians who are still trying to make the world believe that they are one of the best. I still believe Australia are going to struggle for more years to come as they are not any bright youngsters coming through.

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 8:26 GMT)

There's some truth in this, but Ian Chappell's also being fairly selective with the facts. Clarke was not especially aggressive at Old Trafford, and it cost Australia the chance of a win. He could have declared the first innings sooner, or batted on with a bit more aggression to really make England struggle against the follow-on. Instead, he settled for a score that was neither one thing nor the other. And in the second innings, a captain who was the gambler that Chappell claims he is would have declared when England needed 280.

I also fail to see what's aggressive about consistently using your most reliable quick bowler (I'm talking over 3-4 years here) as second or even third change. Bizarre, to say the least.

Finally, aggression needs to be tempered by common sense. He's shown precious little of that when refusing to post a third man to Bell. As well as Bell has batted, he's made about 40% of his runs down there.

Posted by dirtydozen on (August 12, 2013, 8:20 GMT)

i think upto 2017 Australia should follow such a batting line 1- rogers, 2- watson/warner, 3- khawaja, 4- clarke, 5- smith/maddinson, 6- hughes, 7 - agar/faulkner , 8- siddle, 9- pattinson, 10- starc/bird and 11- lyon in this rogers should captain the team(see his record as middlesex captain) and let hughes be the wicketkeeper and let smith be rogers deputy i believe hughes, khwaja, smith and maddinson will play a important role in aussies middle order and top order with the presence of agar and faulkner aussies can get an extra bowling option.

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 8:00 GMT)

Aggressive captaincy comes if the team supports captain. If a captain puts attacking fielding and the bowler bowls to the strengths of the opposition batsmen, then the captain has to go defense. The interesting part of this article is that in spite of Cook winning 2 games for England he is still not consider as good captain and Clarke is told as better captain. England captain is little out of form with bat, just imagine if he plays the bigger knocks where would the Australian team would and what would be the series by now 3-0. Unfortunately he is out of form and it happens to greatest batsman in the world. By the end of this series I hope Australia would not be 4-0. What will a losing captain do if he is afraid of losing nothing. In my view both Clarke and Cook are good captains that is why they are leading their respective countries. Winning and losing is part of game and the team which execute their plans well in particular game will wins.

Posted by zxaar on (August 12, 2013, 7:45 GMT)

Clarke doesn't fear defeat, he is used to it.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (August 12, 2013, 6:03 GMT)

When you're ahead you're slightly more conservative to hold your advantage, when you're behind you're slightly more aggressive to try and make up ground. Clarke isn't exactly breaking the mold. If anything I'd say both captains are being a little more conservative than they should be.

I can understand Cook's perspective better though, he has the weight of expectation on his shoulders. Let's face it (being an Australian), none of us exactly expected Australia to win any tests in this series. As long as the route Clarke took wasn't completely idiotic, there would be exactly 0 backlash, win, lose or draw.

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 5:24 GMT)

true words!

Posted by Greatest_Game on (August 12, 2013, 4:34 GMT)

I'm really struggling to understand the writer. He states with authority that "(Clarke) has a good feel for the job and he's tactically astute. He's also brave and this allows him to seek victory from the first ball, while understanding that occasionally this will lead to defeat." Occasionally? Yes - he said occasionally! Australia lost 6 test matches in a row. Only once, 1885-1888 have they lost more - 7. Only once before have they lost 6 in succession, in 1984. However, Clarke holds the record as the only Australian captain to lead a team in 6 successive defeats. He has passed Kim Hughes record of leading the team to 5 consecutive defeats. That is not OCCASIONALLY - that is the ALL TIME RECORD FOR AN AUSSIE SKIPPER!!

The line should read "He's also brave and this allows him to seek victory from the first ball, while understanding that he will lose more tests in succession than any Aussie skipper." Kim Hughes was booted after 5. Clarke really is brave!

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 3:37 GMT)

Goodness me. Reading this article you'd sense it was Australia that was 2 nil ahead in the test series. Clarke's okay, but to say that he's better than Cook reads a bit like reading a puff piece.

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 3:03 GMT)

There is something about success that irritates IC - he does not like Steve Waugh and now Cook joins that list. Let Cook be 'unimaginative' in the eyes of the likes of IC - he is delivering on what really matters.

Posted by   on (August 12, 2013, 2:03 GMT)

Chappel you are an Australian so you say so. During the 3rd Ashes test, Clark should have declared at T on the 4th day! He did not do so, as he was afraid of defeat, if he had declared Aus would have won and kept peoples interest still in this series!!

Posted by Thegimp on (August 12, 2013, 1:45 GMT)

Mate I think you have been a little harsh on Cook. With Aust batters not setting the world on fire all he really needs to do is wait. They will get themselves out, particularly to quality bowlers like Swan and Anderson. Set good solid fields, bowl good areas and the wickets will come, unimaginative yes, but hardly surprising. Clarkes innings aside, and let's face it, once Clarke gets set he is unstopable, the rest are debacles waiting to happen. Like Pietersen, hard hitting flamboyant batsmen will pierce attacking fields and score quickly. Dry them up and they will get themselves out. Eng did it to Aust in 2005, two sweepers back and all of a sudden 450 scores turned into low 300s.

@landl47... mate I wonder what Clarke's record would be with a batting line up of Cook, Trott, Bell, Himself & Pietersen?

Posted by SLSup on (August 12, 2013, 1:42 GMT)

Only in Ian Chappell's world will you see a losing captain not afraid to lose and a winning captain running for his life. Wow.

Posted by caught_knott_bowled_old on (August 12, 2013, 1:05 GMT)

Ian Chappell is probably right in saying Clarke does not fear losing and is aggressive. I also agree that he does an excellent job with his field placements and really chokes the batsmen and their ability to rotate the strike. However, Clarke's decision-making on team selection and man-management prevents Australia from getting better results. Considering he's got limited batting resources, he's still toying with the selection and unable to determine the ideal batting order. He's obviously trying a few things, but if Australia haven't sorted out their batting by the next series, then the blame's got to placed on Clarke's doorstep as well.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (August 11, 2013, 23:56 GMT)

Ian, although I agree Clarke is usually a bold captain, he failed in the Third Test with his surprisingly conservative declarations which made winning much harder for Australia.

At the start of the match he should has said "Ok, boys, we can't rely on the weather being good for five days, we've gotta win this bugger for four days."

But instead, both his declaration played no or little heed to the weather. And in that, he was conservative and showed he actually was afraid of losing.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 23:29 GMT)

In the latest 30 years there have only been 2 Captains that have shown true aggression, AB and Steve Waugh. Admittedly Steve had the cream of the crop as far as players go but in 1989 AB adopted the "We won't socialise or talk to the opposition tact" it was a siege mentality that threw the opposition as Australian players always socialised with the English team. By doing this AB took an average team and moulded them into a take charge team. Steve Waugh on the other hand took a search and destroy attitude and with a crew like Taylor, Martin, warne and McGrath not only beat a team but ground them into the pitch. Players like Stewart, Hussain and Atherton were never the same again.

Posted by nareshgb1 on (August 11, 2013, 21:16 GMT)

when you are two down - exactly what you have to lose, if you lose another? this fear of losing psycho bable is applicable when you have something to lose.

Posted by shot274 on (August 11, 2013, 20:23 GMT)

I completely agree. Good captaincy wont win matches on its own but Clarke is inventive and thus has reduced the gap between the two teams to a level which is almost competitive. On paper England has a vastly superior team and after being down 2-0 who would have given Australia any hope of clawing back,. They may still loose 4-0 but equally could make it 2-2.That was unthinkable some weeks ago. England will never be a great team because they have such a 'cannot loose' approach. They always have. They would rather win a series 2-0 than 4-1 and that is the difference between a top South African or Australian team(when they were a top team) and England. Clarkes aggressiveness and Cooks conservative captaincy is nothing to do with the current score line. Its a mindset.

Posted by simon_w on (August 11, 2013, 19:26 GMT)

when your side is as weak as Clarke's, you have to throw the dice a little. when your side is as strong as Cook's, you play the percentages safe in the knowledge that the odds are in your favor. a good captain does what gives his side the best chance of victory. when you're the better side, that will entail a more conservative approach, of course.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 19:06 GMT)

I like Michael Clarke - the batsman - not the captain. He seems to run out of ideas when the wicket is slightly flat, and he does not have confidence in his spinners. How else can one explain leaving out Lyon - right after the Chennai Test. And at Lords, when Joe Root was not at his best, and the pitch doing something for the spinner, Agar was bowling a very negative line and length, and it did appear that Michael Clarke left him alone to sort this out. This kid was bowling quite beautifully, and a little bit of talking to him *should* have got him a wicket. Same in the 4th Test. Just when Pieterson started attacking Lyon, he took him off too soon. I've seen Clarke being aggressive when the conditions are good for his bowler. Otherwise, he just goes flat.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (August 11, 2013, 19:04 GMT)

Chappell is right, as usual, Clarke is a terrific tactician but a selfish, cowardly batsman who hides down the order. Man up and bat 3 Clarke!

Posted by GermanPlayer on (August 11, 2013, 17:24 GMT)

Sorry Mr. Chappell. while I rate Clarke as undoubtedly the most aggressive captain at the moment, my liking for him as a captain has decreased after his non-declaration at Old Trafford. That was a game where the Ashes was on the line and a defeat or draw would have mattered little. Clarke should have declared early with rain forecasted. This is not in hindsight, this was predicted and any person who follows cricket knows when rain is predicted in England, it will rain! Especially at Old Trafford!

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 15:15 GMT)

Desperate stuff, Mr Chappell. Clarke doesn't fear defeat? Just as well since he's experienced so many lately! Cook is a WINNER, Mr Chappell, which is the most important thing as a captain - or are you not aware of the team that has won a series in India and has so quickly retained the Ashes?

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 14:30 GMT)

You cannot judge a captain on team performance. Michael Clarke is by far one of the best captain in the world. Looking at the inexperience side he has competing against a top side that has experienced players like Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, James Anderson, Graeme Swann and the list goes on, I think he is doing a fantastic job so far. Scoring 183 with so much expectation, responsibility of being a captain of such inexperience side in a big series and pressure isn't easy.

So far in the series, Cook hasn't done anything big with the bat.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 12:58 GMT)

No offense intended Chappelli, but setting aggressive fields hasn't stopped Australia from loosing 6 tests in a row plus they also haven't won 2 tests they should have against SA at home. What does that say about Clarke's captaincy?

Posted by landl47 on (August 11, 2013, 12:47 GMT)

I like Clarke as a captain and I agree that Cook is often too defensive. However, Chappell's article says absolutely nothing (I checked it twice) about the most important function of a captain, which is to get the best possible performances out of his players. The closer the players are to playing their best every game, the higher the chances are that they will win. Cook is much better than Ckarke at that.

It's not surprising to me that Chappell doesn't mention this as he was a terrible captain at getting good performances out of his players. Under him a team which was dominant in 1974-1975 had fallen apart by 1977.

Look at Cook's record and compare it with Clarke's and suddenly Clarke doesn't seem that much better a captain than Cook.

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (August 11, 2013, 12:25 GMT)

I agree with Ian Chappell, Aussie Captains are much more imaginative, bold and willing to take a gamble than their English counterparts. Between Clarke and Cook, Clarke's been more inventive and more willing to go for victory. Cook's conservative approach is less likely to work in Australia, where the weather is far better than in England and less likely for a test match to affected by rain or bad light. When they go to Australia, Clarke's more likely to achieve success than Cook unless Cook changes his style radically when they move to Australia. I don't think Cook can get away with it in Australia like he could in England. So if Cook and England want success in Australia at the end of the year he will have to be like Clarke. He will have to be more bold and imaginative. This will make test cricket better as spectacle.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (August 11, 2013, 12:16 GMT)

Ummmm. Australia are 2 - 0 down. Of course they are going to be aggressive and gamble because they have no other option !!!

Posted by afs_talyarkhan on (August 11, 2013, 11:50 GMT)

Ian Chappell, as batsman, captain and commentator, has always been a champion of attacking cricket since the days in the sixties when he danced down the wicket at Eden Gardens and threaded the outfield with a stream of boundaries against the guile, artistry and equally attacking bowling of Erapalli Anantarao Srinivas Prasanna. Attacking cricket is always a good option and those who don't understand that cannot empathise with an essential aspect of the human condition. It is because of attack minded champions like Ian Chappell that the game of cricket is still alive and flourishing. Remember when he excoriated the Indian selectors for dropping Sehwag for the tour of Australia and how triumphantly he was vindicated when Sehwag was belatedly picked and roared back with a matchsaving century in the last test?! This is a man, grandson of Vic Richardson and brother of Greg and Trevor, with cricket in his blood. Long may he be there to remind us to always take the bull by the horns!

Posted by Arrow011 on (August 11, 2013, 11:43 GMT)

I think MS Dhoni has come up well in the tests in India as captain, not because he won the last 4 tests against Australia at home, it is because of his bludgeoning of their attack when 8-9 wickets have fallen. He uses last 1-2 batsmen to give him support & he keeps scoring in boundries to make the score pile up at a very quick rate. His 180+ is a testimony when he made great partnerships with tailenders. The same situation came to Micheal Clarke in India when he was partnering the tail, he was rotating strike just to bolster his average & remain not out. I think a good captain is not where he places his fielders but how he takes advantage of his abilities & outsmarts the opposing team. When MS Dhoni was hitting sixes of Lyon at will M. Clarke had no answer & when he got a chance he squandered it by just slowly rotaing strike. I would rate MS Dhoni a better captain than both M. Clarke & A. Cook. I do agree Clarke despite having a weak team strives more for a win than Cook.

Posted by Lara213 on (August 11, 2013, 10:52 GMT)

I would argue it's not the difference between Clarke and Cook rather English and Australian traditions: Australians always played aggressive fields wth up 5-6 slips and a gully. You rarely see more than 3 slips in a English cordon sometime only two.

The only exception I would make is Michael Vaughan's captaincy. but if you look back to Atherton, Hussein, Stewart, Strauss they were all pretty much in the same mould as Cook, playng it safe.

Posted by Tippler on (August 11, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

Has this article got anything to do with current state of cricket in Australia ? A captain is as good as the team. You wanna compare Clarke then compare him with the Waughs and the Pontings who led and led admirably. What point are you trying to prove by comparing him to Cook? Look at the scoreline.

Posted by jlw74 on (August 11, 2013, 9:58 GMT)

@BlightyTragic, correction George Bailey does not captain in the IPL he barely plays in it. Nor does he play in other t20 leagues outside Australia. He's a decent player and a good tactician granted but not in the league of Clarke.

Posted by hycIass on (August 11, 2013, 9:49 GMT)

Clarke is among the best captains i have seen, very aggressive and a bit like Warne was whenever he captained state sides.Disco bob like yourself i can also see boof giving the younger players a real run at batting which is what's needed as the likes of Khawaja, Smith and Warner will be our future champions. Great knock and well done Rogers and Watson, they he certainly played a gritty innings which is exactiy what this team needs. Let's hope we can build on it today.

Posted by irfi4040 on (August 11, 2013, 9:25 GMT)

I agree. It seems that England (lead by their very defensive captain) are ready to play for draws in order to win the ashes. the signs were visible from their captain cook while he was batting. well this kind of apch could seriously hurt the England team and I wont b surprised if the series result ends 2-2. its time 2 give KP the captaincy for the return ashes tour to Aus later this year to match the aggressiveness of M. Clarke, otherwise not sure about the fate of England. I don't how could Ian Botham predict a 5-0 in favour of England, may b only bcoz of home conditions.....? well, in test cricket the "approach and mindset" r very important, don't u think..?

Posted by goldeneraaus on (August 11, 2013, 9:23 GMT)

A lot of you are missing the point. Yes of course you would take Cook's form over Clarke's but a captains results are almost entirely dependent on his team. That does not mean you cannot make observations about the quality of a captain. Chappell is right, Clarke has wonderful tactical nous, aggressive attitude, and most importantly is proactive and challenging and is streets ahead of his counterpart in this regard. Considering the state we were in after 2010/11 clarke has done very well and really Australia's slide has only really occurred after losing possibly our 2 best batsman ever.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 8:31 GMT)

That's just funny!!! I have seen Clarke out captained by Dhoni, Smith, Taylor and Cook, and his status was inflated by the Indian and SL whitewashes who came to Australia without quality seemers.

Let's face it, he led the Team on a disastrous Indian Tour that was racked with scandal. He was a selector on the Tour, so if Chappell wants to criticize the quality of the team, Chappell's net drops over Clarke in this area also. At the start of the 3rd Test Australia was staring down seven straight defeats. While I will say that Australia was on top, I have seen many great turn-arounds in the game.

Clarke has been a lucky Captain who has been saved by his bowlers' batting on several occasions allowing Australia to win series but also to starve off embarrassment.

Then you we can talk about his DRS Decisions.

And to state that Clarke doesn't fear defeat!!!! HA, HA, HA, HA!!! Every sportsman fears defeat ..... that's why we practice for hours and hours.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 8:16 GMT)

Lolz clarke have nothing to losse they are already 2-0 down even if they draw the match they will be defeated.

Posted by sukmad on (August 11, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

Ian Chappel has always been a huge fan of Clarke's captaincy and so this article is no surprise. In fact there is little to condemn Clarke's tactical acumen and generally his aggressive approach to cricket. But good tacticians alone do not make teams tick. They should earn the team's trust and respect. Unfortunately Clarke has been too selfish and authoritarian to do that.

Posted by cloudmess on (August 11, 2013, 8:10 GMT)

Clarke's recent captaincy record: LLLLLLD, Cook's: DDWWWWD. I'd sooner take the boring, conservative captain any day.Clarke is actually doing a passable impersonation of an England captain from the 1990s - playing good, fearless cricket once the Ashes are decided.

Posted by popcorn on (August 11, 2013, 8:00 GMT)

Now that it is proven that Watson is better suited at Number 5 or 6,and that David Warner and Phil Hughes are unreliable as openers,there is no need for the Selectors tio tinker any more with the batting Order.Ed Cowan,Chris Rogers,Usman Khawaja, Michael Clarke,Steve Smith, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin.

Posted by mathewjohn2176 on (August 11, 2013, 7:58 GMT)

Posted by UglyIndian on (August 11, 2013, 6:23 GMT),you can set attacking field ,if only when you have a very good seamers in your team and this Indian team have a very ordinary bunch of seam bowlers who can't take wickets at test level.Give dhoni bowlers like steyn,morkel pattinson ,siddle or Harris, he will react differently When you have bowlers like Ishant and co,nothing can be done other than protecting the boundaries.He do the best with his limited resources.If you talk about his 8 -0 test losses and home loss to England,you forgot to mention the 4-0 whitewash again this same Australian team who is giving a good fight to this England team at the moment.Indian bowling resources is very limited and captain can't do much about it unlike other teams like SA,ENG and Australia who are filled with very good seam bowlers.You need very good seam bowlers to set up attacking field and sadly india has no option.So yes as per @ humdrum,he is doing better job with his limited resources.

Posted by screamingeagle on (August 11, 2013, 7:57 GMT)

The point is Cook has not had to try too much when faced with this Aussie team. Clarke however, has had to try and make things happen. But saying Clarke is the best around is taking it a bit too far. There are others who have had their share of good days as well. Dhoni - minus the two 4-0 defeats has been good. He does have a tendency to push the field back sometimes. But saying that a captain who goes on the defensive is a bad captain is not really a good opinion. Clarke may be good with field positions, but when it comes to man management...hmm, not so sure.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 7:52 GMT)

good field placements are not the only way judge the captains his off field captaincy and his relation with teamates is as important altough i am a fan of clarke on field captaincy but not of his off field and also u r to win matches for that if u sometimes become defensive its no problem but not like dhoni or cook as become defensive too early one should field according to the batsmen stlye as u cannot bring all the fielders inside the circle for a player like afridi warner KP when they r settled but being too much imaginative also leads to loss e.g ABD villers i think Mr chappell just wanted to praise his team and remember everyone wants to win

Posted by humdrum on (August 11, 2013, 7:50 GMT)

@correctcall:India have a 1-1 record against SA in the last 4 test series,home and away,including the last one in SA in 2010. For your info,Clive Rice was on record that had the tosses gone to India,they would have won the series.Just for info.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 7:46 GMT)

Person who is at the bottom takes more risk.......

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 7:45 GMT)

@uglyIndian - man so true. I remember that series in Australia. He started off with two slips and within 2-3 boundaries the slip cordon was completely removed. Poor Ishant sharma was accused of not bowling full enough but fact is he was generally operating with empty slip cordon with deep point, which by no means is an encouraging field for the full length. Clarke on the other hand, even when batsman is set is still aggressive. His biggest strength I believe is that his fielders are positioned perfectly.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 7:44 GMT)

@Rohit-Sen , even though england 2-nil up it isnt because of alaistar cook's brilliant captaincy , its because of the brilliant players he has in his team , ian bell ,james anderson , cook didnt do anything out of the ordinary , if it hadnt been for anderson ,england might have lost that first test easily , whereas had it been clarke , he would have tried a lot of other things and might have wrapped up the match earlier . even in the fourth match cook brought on jonathan trott instead of giving the ball to swann who troubled rogers . bizzare tactics . i think ian chappell is right , clarke is a out of box sort of captain and cook is a conventional captain .

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 7:28 GMT)

I agree, he is a very good captain, tactically at the very least. I think he has underbowled Smith in the series to date though.

Posted by andfo82 on (August 11, 2013, 7:15 GMT)

Please be aware when reading this there is a massive Ian Chappell/Shane Warne bandwagon going on with Michael Clarke and his captaincy. At 2-0 down Clarke basically has the green light to attack all he wants he's in a win/win situation in that regard. The turn around in the series is that Clarke scored a big hundred at OT, the Aus seamers have been making decent headway all series and so they should they are good. Nothing special has happened other than that. Chappell also has this issue with fielders being back, well sometimes it's correct sometimes not. In '05 the Aus batting was so used to dominating denial was a potent weapon. The Australians used a similar ploy in India '04 cutting off the boundaries, sometimes this proves very fruitful in frustrating batsmen and causing their down fall.

Posted by Eight8 on (August 11, 2013, 7:02 GMT)

@scrop: Yes Chappell can be pro Australia, but he has also posted plenty of articles criticising aspects of Australian cricket. His comments on Cook are pretty spot on though. A number of international commentators have also made similar comments. The article highlights the difference between the Australian mentality and England's.

Australian teams (especially Clarke teams) play positively and seek wins even if it means potentially losing. Hence 5-0 whitewash in 07/08. No backing off the positive cricket. England's last few years have been characterised by attritional, conservative cricket. Try to get into unlosable situations and only then play aggressively. Not often do they play riskier, aggressive cricket when the game is in the formative stages. The negative mindset of draw first cricket was on display at OT and again with the tardy over rate on day 2 yesterday. They are 2-0 up and still so conservative! They fear losing more than they have a killer instinct to force a win.

Posted by Eight8 on (August 11, 2013, 6:54 GMT)

@first_slip: Have you even paid attention to the last couple of years. Clarke has made a heap of big hundreds (doubles and triples + centuries) from precisely the positions you say he doesn't. They have been 3-30 odd countless times and he has rescued them. He has also made centuries all around the world in recent years (India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and England + a number in Australia). And some of these have been in testing conditions. India game 1 and South Africa when he made 150-odd on a pitch where 2nd and 3rd innings scores were all out 90-odd and 45. His form has been top shelf for 2 years and he has done it mainly from no platform or a tough pitch. Check your facts.

@Blighty Tragic: Clarke is known the world over as a top notch tactical captain. His record (minus India series) with an average team is phenomenal. He certainly got the best out of the team in the first couple of years of his captaincy despite having no greats in it. He hit a stumbling block in India though.

Posted by Rohit-Sen on (August 11, 2013, 6:46 GMT)

So what Ian.. Score reads 2-0 and England have retained the ashes. Am sure Australia would have preferred to be 2-0 up with the less "imaginative" captain. Cricket is played to win or lose matches... Discussions as these.. While have their value in filling up a Sunday afternoon... Are mostly academic. Both captains started at 0-0 and Cook is 2-0 up. That's all that matters

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 6:32 GMT)

when you have nothing to lose, its easy to be adventurous. that's what Clarke is doing. I'm reluctant to read too much into Chappell's observations here!

Posted by Chris_P on (August 11, 2013, 6:29 GMT)

@Ekalb Sivraj. Can I guess? You haven't played any type of competitive cricket, have you? Don't answer, it stands out like... well you know. Ian Chappell, for those who care, was an international captain of note who never lost a series, was a highly successful captain of South Australia & was a very imaginative captain who thought "outside the box", a somewhat more advanced background than any of us have so has to be respected for his views.

Posted by UglyIndian on (August 11, 2013, 6:23 GMT)

@mukesh_love.cricket - I think you are letting your imagination get the better of you. At no point does Chappell mention Dhoni, let alone mention him as a 'good' captain. Everyone knows Dhoni is an ordinary captain at test level, who is ever so keen to push fielders to the fence, the moment a boundary is struck. That 8-0 rout overseas, and home-series loss to England are testament to his ordinariness. Please do not let your national colours muddle an article or a discussion that has nothing to do with India or Dhoni. @humdrun - As I mentioned above, Dhoni is a very ordinary captain at Test level.

Posted by correctcall on (August 11, 2013, 6:22 GMT)

@humdrum can you honestly say Dhoni has demonstrated outstanding captaincy skills at Test level away from the sub continent - that is the real measure of his value and currently he comes up short. Will be interesting to see how he goes in Sth Africa shortly.

Posted by supacricfan on (August 11, 2013, 6:22 GMT)

With all the respect in the world,i hav to say thst Mr.Chapell has as usual is very biased with his opinions n this article proves again,I couldnt see anything what Clarke has done apart from that fantastic hundred in old trafford..Cook,agree has nt performed to his standards but everyone will go into this lean patch n cook is no exception,Remember it is Cook who leads the series 2-0 not Clarke,defensive or not thats what is matters,Mr.Chapel gives too much importance on this captaincy..remember old saying-Captain is only as good as his team, perfect example being Ponting!!

Posted by gsingh7 on (August 11, 2013, 6:14 GMT)

chapell is right to the point. best present captains are dhoni and clarke. although clarke is not as succesful as dhoni in last 2 years,but both set aggressive fields AND uses bowlers well. cook on other hand is a typical conservative english captain who is satisfied with draw even when in winning position. proof is 3rd ashes test and 4th test in nagpur last year.

Posted by JoshFromJamRock on (August 11, 2013, 5:52 GMT)

There is only so much a captain can do. Anchoring the innings while batting is expected and also is breaking the shackles of tight bowling by being aggressive and not getting bogged down. In addition to batting, knowing when to declare when in the lead is very important especially with weather to consider. While fielding, his understanding of bowling speeds and angles is important in addition to being the one to know by heart the weaknesses and strengths of opposing batsmen, and knowing the natural line and length of his bowlers and their adaptability to different batsmen. Off the field at the training session or hotel he needs to keep the guys focus. But then again he will have a bowling, batting and fielding coaches to help him out. Cricket is one of the most individualized team sports there is. Everybody needs to play their part. Australia is fortunate, look at the state of WI, a thinking captain and actual selectors are what they need now with all that talent and experience around.

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (August 11, 2013, 5:51 GMT)

chappell is right here , clarke and dhoni are the two best captains of today , both have contrasting style but can inspire their teams in their own way , the problem for clarke is too much is dependent on his batting in his team , give him 2 more solid batsman and Australia will be a force to be reckoned with in no time , as for dhoni his problem is a lack of quality fast bowlers

Posted by RonchiefBSB on (August 11, 2013, 5:47 GMT)

@first_slip "Clark only score big when his team have good start, he always fail when team in trouble like 20 for 3, and never perform on track that help bowlers, but still people recon he is on of the best in the world...lol i rate Rogers Hundred million time better than Clarks all Hundreds."

Absolute nonsense. Look at Clarke's four biggest scores: 230 vs South Africa at Adelaide he came in at 55/3 259* vs South Africa at Brisbane he came in at 40/3 210 vs India at Adelaide he came in 84/3 329* vs India at Sydney he came in at 37/3

In all of those innings his team were in trouble. Clearly not a player who only scores big when his team has a good start!

Posted by Scrop on (August 11, 2013, 5:22 GMT)

Not surprised, Mr. Ian has always been biased and this article is no different. Clarke is a good captain, aggressive in approach that doesnt mean he is Cook is moderate and defensive. All this he said about clarke I can see it only in 4th test when the Ashes are already gone to England. That makes me think "When you have nothing to lose why fear of losing" - So yeah, Clarke doesn't have to fear defeat

The 1st team its not clarke's captancy brought them under 15 runs close to victory, it was the last wicket partnerships. 2nd team is was a complete mess. 3rd test he did play a captain's knock started to feel confident, rain interrupted.

So Mr. Ian, Lets see how they do in the remaining 7 test matches before you jump the gun and support an Aussie.

Posted by first_slip on (August 11, 2013, 5:11 GMT)

Clark only score big when his team have good start, he always fail when team in trouble like 20 for 3, and never perform on track that help bowlers, but still people recon he is on of the best in the world...lol i rate Rogers Hundred million time better than Clarks all Hundreds.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

Clarke has been a good captain despite what the critics may have to say. He has scored runs, used his players cleverly and always tries to pull out a win whatever the situation maybe. He takes chances, believes in his bowlers and does not let the frustration show on his face. The only complaint his current captaincy tenure has generated is the sacking of Katich, which I believe has pushed the Aus batting lineup back by ages. Katich had another 2-3 years of cricket left in him when he was pushed and the result is there for everyone to see. Clearly there is no young player in Aus today who can replace Katich and Rogers forget about Hussey in near future.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 4:37 GMT)

I find it humorous to read all these comments. Chappelli is commenting on Clarke's ability to take on the game, be aggressive where possible, and not let things drift in the game, from a captains perspective. A great captain doesn't make a great team, but a great team can make a captain appear better - Ponting being the prime example. Before you so easily criticise Chappelli's points, how many of you have captained your country at the highest level? None, otherwise it would be your article others could easily criticise without thought...

Posted by humdrum on (August 11, 2013, 4:34 GMT)

Hello Ian,have you forgot about a guy called M.S.Dhoni who is every bit as aggressive and a risk taker and,moreover,utilises his resources better.And,over his career has produced some outstanding results. Having said that,Clarke's leadership in this series has been of the highest order,and barring the lords test fiasco,only the fates have prevented positive results.The true test of a skipper is in inspiring his team to punch above their weight and in this Clarke has definetely made good progress.Backs- to- the- wall aussies are giving it back ,and mate,we love it.

Posted by DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on (August 11, 2013, 4:25 GMT)

i dont know how good cook as a captian but as a batsman he is defensive than any other world class batsman. He is a rungetter but not a feared batsman, never will be and not a match winner. He fits for old age test matches only.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 4:15 GMT)

I'll go even further to say that Clarke is not only afraid to lose but infact enjoys losing.Results of the past 9 months attest to this.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 3:53 GMT)

I cannot see Mr Chappell's point.What is the use of setting aggressive fields and not being afraid to lose when all it does is leads to more defeats.The results speak for themselves.Just within a few months the Australians have lost to SA,India 4-0,elliminated early in the CT and now 2-0 after 3 Tests under Clarke's captaincy.As they say, one swallow does not make asummer.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 3:39 GMT)

Completely agree with Ian here. Other than Clarke and Border, the next close to aggressive captain was Ganguly. His aggressive approach has earned India a strange series draw down under and a series win in England. Ian is the most accurate analyzer of the game and inspires the cricket analytical minds like me and many more across the world. Hope I can listen to Ian during the ashes down under.

Posted by disco_bob on (August 11, 2013, 3:30 GMT)

We's probably still be alive in this series had Arthur not been dumped. Lehman's two 'masterstrokes' announcing imperiously early on that Watson would be opening, and that Agar was preferred to Lyon, can now be seen to be ludicrous. It is heartening to see that giving Watto everything he petulantly asks for was a mistake. He's now been told he's a bowler first and he's preferred as a no. 6 and lo and behold he has done well, no bucketload of wickets but his economy keeps the pressure on for the whole bowling team. We can only hope that Khawaja is told that he's going to be given a fair crack without needing to fear being dropped for a few bad performances. However it's good to see that Australia seems to be heading in the right direction now without looking for the magic quick fix.

Posted by rocket123 on (August 11, 2013, 3:29 GMT)

Though Rogers played well for his deserved hundred, and proving in this series that he should have had his chance at this level at least a few years earlier. However, the most technically correct batsman was Watto. He is always pleasant on the eyes when he plays his shorts with authority such as handsome cover drives and square cuts. Today he showed the reasons for his potential and talent though he again failed to convert into a hundred. But I think he is getting to that point where he will soon post not hundreds but big daddy hundreds because that is what his batting abilities show. And the biggest advantage is that he can take the game away from opposition on any track anywhere any time. All he needs a formidable batting starts from other batsman if he is to bat at No.6. Well done Watto and looks like though MC reign defocused Watto but now he realizes that if he is stay in TC then he must conjure all his unbridled talent for batting to the fore and carry the burden.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2013, 3:12 GMT)

Yes Ian, Clarke was terrific as captain in losing the first two tests, however could such a great captain be behind 2-0?

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
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.

'The man who had a winning impact'

Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss VVS Laxman's match-winning skills

    'If I were a fruit, I'd be an orange'

Jonny Bairstow talks red hair, team-mates to avoid while batting, and what to see in Yorkshire

Once a rat in blue, now the Kohinoor

The Cricket Monthly: Kamran Abbasi hates to love Virat Kohli
Download the app for: iPad | for Android tablet

    A touch of Bradman

Hundred in a session? Easy peasy for Doug Walters. Ashley Mallett on his old team-mate's way with a stroke

It's about anecdotes, not numbers

Jonathan Wilson: Runs and wickets matter little in games involving authors, seminarians and the like. It pays to keep your ears open

News | Features Last 7 days

Youngest double-centurions, and the oldest living Test players

Also, the closest ODI team match-ups, most catches in a T20, and expensive Test debut five-fors

From Constantine to Chanderpaul

As West Indies play their 500th Test, here's an interactive journey through their Test history

I got more than I expected - Shastri

ESPNcricinfo spoke to Ravi Shastri, India's new team director, after the conclusion of the tour of England, where MS Dhoni's team lost the Tests, won the ODIs and then lost the only Twenty20 international

Soaring in the 1980s, slumping in the 2000s

In their pomp, West Indies had a 53-13 win-loss record; in their last 99, it is 16-53. That, in a nutshell, shows how steep the decline has been

The contenders to replace Ajmal

Following the bowling ban on Saeed Ajmal, ESPNcricinfo picks five bowlers Pakistan may replace him with for the time being

News | Features Last 7 days