Pakistan v Australia 2012

Clarke moves up to No. 3

Daniel Brettig

August 23, 2012

Comments: 57 | Text size: A | A

Tim Bresnan trapped Michael Clarke lbw, England v Australia, 1st ODI, Lord's, June 29, 2012
After a difficult tour of England, Michael Clarke is set to make a permanent move to No. 3 in the ODI team © AFP
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Australia's captain Michael Clarke is expected to promote himself to the pivotal No. 3 spot in the ODI batting order for the matches against Afghanistan and Pakistan in the UAE, with Michael Hussey's return to add greater ballast to the touring middle order.

Clarke walked to the crease at No. 3 in both the trial matches played during Australia's pre-season camp in Darwin, and ESPNcricinfo understands that he is now inked to remain there as the team's best limited overs option in the position.

Having returned from parental leave that ruled him out of the dire ODI tour of England, Hussey will bat at Nos. 4 or 5, leaving the Twenty20 captain George Bailey and David Hussey to round out the top six.

Since Ricky Ponting lost form and was dropped from the ODI team during the triangular series last Australian summer, No. 3 has been something of a problem position for the limited overs team, as the vice-captain Shane Watson, Peter Forrest, Bailey and Matthew Wade have all been tried there with limited degrees of success.

When fit, Clarke has retained the No. 4 spot he occupied beneath Ponting for some years, and in England did so despite the clear inadequacy of Forrest in particular to handle the challenges posed by the home attack. At the time, Clarke and the coach Mickey Arthur believed that Hussey's absence from the middle order meant the captain could not afford to be any higher than No. 4, the better to have some influence on the later passages of an innings.

Clarke has a sound ODI record in his limited appearances at No. 3, averaging 36.20 in 18 matches and making one century, an unbeaten 111 against India in Vizag in 2010, when he was stand-in captain. He is now set to make the move a permanent one.

Australia's acting coach for the first part of the tour, Steve Rixon, said the tourists would be playing their best team against Afghanistan and Pakistan, intent on building consistency and confidence in the ODI unit. The series follows a 12-month period that has veered from strong results in Sri Lanka and South Africa, to a halting triumph in the triangular series at home, a shared encounter in the West Indies and the abject 4-0 defeat in England.

"We've got one tournament leading into another, which a lot of these guys will be doubling up in, from [ODIs] here into T20 over here into the big one over in Sri Lanka," Rixon said. "So we are conscious of that, however, first things first we need to win these one dayers so we'll be looking at our very best side. We need to look at the wicket, see exactly what we've got … when we see what the wicket looks like we'll assess our options, and our options are pretty good at the moment.

"You have to really be looking at your own backyard, and our own backyard is how we're going to play best in these conditions. Regardless of the opposition, it's how David Warner is going to combat a turning wicket, or how Michael Clarke's going to play against the opposition in Dubai, that's the way we set ourselves up."

The opening match against Afghanistan will be a chance for the Australians to witness how quickly the strife-torn country has developed a brave and opportunistic limited overs team. Though he expected the tourists to win, Rixon said he and the players were enlivened by the chance to encounter a rising nation.

"Afghanistan has come in as a minor competitor, but they are competing at the top level, so we've got to go in with a lot of respect for the opposition, but we'd like to think we go in with the upper hand to be able to beat them in these conditions with the side we have," Rixon said. "I like the idea that minor nations are getting the opportunity to come in and play against the big boys, I think that's great for cricket and the culture of the game.

"We've only just got some [videos] recently so I'll have a little look at that. I'm sure they'll go in with a 'we've got nothing to lose' attitude, which is an outstanding way to play it, but we're also going in as a side that's been No. 1 for a long time and we want to get back to No. 1 and make every post a winner. We have to do what we do well, and if we do that then I think we'll be good enough."

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by MattyP1979 on (August 27, 2012, 11:16 GMT)

So Aus don't know their best 11, and now the only 2 players that are shoe in's they don't know where to play them. Aussies having to dig out their green and gold shirts after donning SA colours for a month. What is happening in Aus? Pak are getting their 'admin' in order, and could prove to be a very handy side in all formats. Hope for a good contest but I can seen Aus getting a hammering.....o well cmon PAK.

Posted by MattyP1979 on (August 27, 2012, 6:37 GMT)

Have to agree with Jezza here. CLark is a very fine player and captain. As is Hussey, but with all the changes in the Aussie side of late, one wonders if they actually know an even rough best 11. Aus are extremly dependent on 2/3 players, most teams are but the others are avg at best. Hope for a good contest but my money is on PAK.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (August 26, 2012, 4:03 GMT)

Why not stick Steve Smith in at 3 and get the pakistani lad back cant really get any worse can it? At least the aussys cant say their failure is for want of trying, its just simply lack of talent, skill, ability, co-ordination & mental capacity.

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (August 25, 2012, 13:56 GMT)

@ VillageBlacksmith, its better to rearrange the chairs now, or should we wait untill its to late, like the queen mary. ya gotta watch those south african ice bergs haha

Posted by jezzastyles on (August 25, 2012, 4:45 GMT)

@Meety: Thanks for the informative update. In my opinion, Cricket is enriched with every "minnow" it adds to its ranks. They all require time to develop, and I would be happy to see the ICC dedicate more resources to the development side of things. It'll be good when Afghanistan ascend to the test playing ranks. I hope they knock off a test playing nation in an ODI in the near future, it's always good to see an underdog get up. If it's AUS, so be it. Cheers. PS- I hope AUS get up in the U-19 World Cup Final, but IND are a very strong team also. Hope it's an exciting & close match, AUS pipping the Indians at the post in the final over. Best of luck to both teams.

Posted by Hammond on (August 25, 2012, 4:21 GMT)

@VillageBlacksmith.. absolute gold.

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (August 25, 2012, 2:19 GMT)

re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic

Posted by Meety on (August 25, 2012, 0:41 GMT)

@jezzastyles - I've followed the Afghanis development from the time the MCC sent a Gatting lead side over there & got pantsed. The MCC then funded an Afghani tour of England that was successful (played against club sides I think they were undefeated). Loved the documentary on them which showed their battle to get to the T20 W/Cup in the Windies, they basically went from no cricket (WCL 7), thru the ranks to having ODI status (only Affiliate country to have it). They have played a fair bit against Pakistan recently (in A-team encounters in Pakistan where they were beaten but not disgraced). They have a bowler Hamid Hassan who IMO is the best pace bowler outside of the world of Test cricket. I am expecting Oz to win, but would be shocked if it was a match rapped in about 100 balls (SL v Zim), or some other thrashing. I can see the Afghanis knocking off a Test nation in an ODI very soon, I have my fingers crossed it won't be Oz, but if they can get 2 or 3 of these games a year, who knows!

Posted by Buckers410 on (August 24, 2012, 10:18 GMT)

Great move by Australia and Clarke. After that, focus on batting at 3 in tests. That would be great.

Posted by jezzastyles on (August 24, 2012, 6:43 GMT)

@Hammond - Ponting is already considered a "great" by most cricketing commentators, so your statement is flawed. Pup is a very good cricketer by any standard, a world-class batsmen in any condition, an excellent fielder, handy part-time bowler, and a razor-sharp captain. This is a psitive mood, and I agree with @dsig3, he should make the same move in tests. Great to see Afghanistan in the mix of things, like @Meety below, I hope they're competitive and have a good game. The ODI series against Pakistan will be very challenging for AUS, we've yet to settle on a core group of players, always shuffling the squad, so as much as it pains me to say it, I think Pakistan must be firm favourites going into the series (disregard the rankings).

Posted by sam_screaming on (August 24, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

This Australian team will have to work very hard to win in subcontinent conditions. Clarke should be coming in at no.4 after Watson with Warner and Wade opening. With a recent 4-0 drubbing against England and Brett Lee (100% cricketer) retiring, looks very difficult for Australia to win against Pakistan who have quality spin bowlers in their team. The only way Australia can beat Pakistan can arrive only if the Pakistan batting fails badly else even a score of 230 would be difficult for Australia to chase down

Posted by abdulahadjawaid on (August 24, 2012, 5:55 GMT)

I love this "Management by Objective" culture of Australia and England. With this confidence of Clarke, our bowlers need to do well in this series. This guy is in mood of making long partnerships. Hoping to see a tight contest between both.

Posted by anver777 on (August 24, 2012, 4:26 GMT)

Clarke had always steadied the ship at this position earlier, so i think its not a bad move at all....... They failed miserably in ENG, hope to see a close battle at least in UAE !!!!!!!!

Posted by Hoady on (August 24, 2012, 2:36 GMT)

Admire his stand-up leadership; but agree with most posters that he isn't the number 3 solution. He would serve Australia much better against deteriorating pitch conditions and shepherding the lower order.

Posted by DragonCricketer on (August 24, 2012, 2:27 GMT)

I'm an Australian. Go Afghanistan !!! Good for the game :-)

Posted by MattyP1979 on (August 24, 2012, 1:13 GMT)

Aus are trying every player in Aus/Eng/NZ/Netherlands/Pak to add strength to their side, moving them up and down the order, guys that are just out of nappies and keeping some that will be in them very soon. World cricket needs a decent Aus side (WI/PAk wouldn't hurt neither), and it is time selectors gave players enough time to settle (the good ones that is). It is an Aussie mentality that they are trying for the next mega star rather than backing quality players such as Hughes/Kahwajjjaa/Cowan/Siddle/Lyon and even Hussey Jnr. The likes of MJ/Warner/Smith are punts at consistant brilliance.

Posted by Sinhaya on (August 24, 2012, 1:00 GMT)

Pakistani spin will dominate the series and that is for sure! I am impatient till the series starts but staying up till late is the problem.

Posted by Meety on (August 24, 2012, 0:20 GMT)

@davidpk - The Ashes was sooo 2010! Pity there's not much else to be enthusiastic about in the English gloaming! (finally used the word gloaming). @Jono Makim, I prefer Clarke @ #4 in ODIs, as it suits his game better, working singles between the batting powerplays. Although, I see merit in him being @#3 for asia-like pitches, where spin plays a large say earlier in an innings. I would NOT want the move to be permanent in all conditions.

Posted by MinusZero on (August 24, 2012, 0:15 GMT)

The problem isnt where Clarke bats, its the rest of the useless middle order that is the problem. Clarke should be 3 in tests though

Posted by CoorparooMaverick on (August 23, 2012, 22:47 GMT)

can we please pick our batting line up and their positions and bat them there consistently! it seems we have settled on the players so now can we please keep them in the same order so they know their role and can start to perform. i cant see how anyone can perform being dropped, recalled and shifted around the order like the oz batsmen are. and please put watson at 6, he cant bat past making 50.

Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 20:24 GMT)

I don't see any merit to this at all. A better place for Clarke would be no.4. Clarke going in too early wastes opportunity for field piercing hitters and if he gets out trying to be someting his not, then that wastes the talents of one of our best nudgers and nurdlers and player of spin. He's the guy you want batting between overs 20 and 35. Wade, Warner, Watson would be the ideal top three for mine, three great strikers of the ball, followed by Clarke and the Hussey brothers, a couple of heavy hitting allrounders (the likes of Maxwell and Christian) and three specialist bowlers..... @Zenboomerang, agree that they need to find a settled order, a much better idea than picking a bloke like Forrest, who's not suited to the format in the first place and then sliding him up and down the order hoping he'll come off. I think we can do better than that. Thankfully Rixon seems to be pointing in this direction, why he's not the head coach i do not know!

Posted by warneneverchuck on (August 23, 2012, 18:45 GMT)

Aussie get ready for whitewash

Posted by MattyP1979 on (August 23, 2012, 18:34 GMT)

I just hope for a good series. I for one wish Pak all the best, and they stand a good chance if their batsman perform. Aus just don't seem to know their best 11 right now. It seems only 4/5 places are actually solid. Have been impressed with Wade though look ok.

Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 17:59 GMT)

clarkie wants to play at 3 becoz he wants to protect players like baily watson warner from classy pakistan spinners [this strategy wont work obviously]

Posted by timtom on (August 23, 2012, 17:32 GMT)

Clarke you should open the batting in ODI and provide anchor rather than playing at no3 aspiring to a be great (la Tasmanian Ian Bell and getting dropped... :)

Posted by bumsonseats on (August 23, 2012, 16:33 GMT)

whats all this welcome back nonsense. randy/jonesy you seem to have forgotten the ashes series were you also went missing, this is no not a site for blowhards. its just nice to see you have a cricketing point of view other than england what england are poor at by your opinion. as for me they can play pup in any position makes no differance.

Posted by spence1324 on (August 23, 2012, 16:29 GMT)

Yep since Australia's top order averages no better than England's tail the one Australian batsman with any talent needs to score the bulk of there runs!

Posted by vaibhavsharma100 on (August 23, 2012, 15:14 GMT)

@Randyoz I think itz d in thing these days to pull down SRT....

Posted by Knowledge_Speaks on (August 23, 2012, 15:09 GMT)

gonna play with Afganistan. and sooo proud???

Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 14:10 GMT)

Excellent move by Clarke. By the way, Mike Hussey provides absolute solidity to the middle order; not "ballast". May be, in Australian English the word "ballast" may have a different meaning, which I don't know! If so, I apologize! (Ballast is what guys like Gilly and Symonds used to give to the team, according to my understanding)

Posted by Busie1979 on (August 23, 2012, 13:33 GMT)

About time. About a year too late. Needs to do the same in tests with M.Hussey opening. Feel sorry for Hughes and Khawaja who were thrown to the wolves without an experienced hand at the top of the order.

Posted by popcorn on (August 23, 2012, 13:01 GMT)

When will Cricket Australia realize that this TEARING HURRY they have to drop Seniors like Ricky Ponting is causing MORE HARM than GOOD? NONE of the Cricketers who hve been tried have been consistent. Now Clarke goes up to an unfamiliar position at Number 3. Like they brought back Brad Hogg, can't they bring back Ricky Ponting for ODIs? The World Cup is a couple of years away. Haven't we learnt the HAD WAy that it was incorrect to drop Simon Katich from the Test Team,that the experiment with Phil Hughes cost us plenty, more so a Test match against The Kiwis?

Posted by unregisteredalien on (August 23, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

Hammond. You told us the other day that you're an Aussie but you began to loathe Australian cricket once the team started winning regularly and became, in your view, "un-Australian". Now that you so deeply believe Aus cricket has become rubbish, why wouldn't you like it again? Moreover, why didn't you have a problem with your adopted team England turning into winners and developing a decidedly hubristic mentality? Is your affection for them greater or smaller now that they've returned to earth? Please enlighten us as to the workings of your complex mind.

Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 11:27 GMT)

w8ting afghan boys to beat kangroos should be a gr8 contest...

Posted by Hammond on (August 23, 2012, 11:24 GMT)

@RandyOz- I've been on there the whole time mate, trouble is you can't see properly, you only have one eye.

Posted by Hammond on (August 23, 2012, 11:01 GMT)

@RandyOz- Pup, like everyone in the current Australian side has Buckleys of "being considered a great of the game". No matter where they bat.

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 23, 2012, 10:21 GMT)

@Hammond - welcome back, we've missed you in all the England articles. Nice try, but i'd stay away from cricket if I were you, you don't know much!

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 23, 2012, 9:35 GMT)

Great, great move pup. However, if you truly want to be considered a great of the game, and not just a good player (a la sachin), you need to move up to 3 in tests and perform.

Posted by zenboomerang on (August 23, 2012, 9:20 GMT)

There is no Watson, McKay for the ODI series - so keep up to date, otherwise your posts look lame...

Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 9:07 GMT)

dear ausis dont take so easy playing with Afghanistan, because they are so talented cricketers, just there is lack of expirence,

Posted by Hammond on (August 23, 2012, 8:20 GMT)

I'd like to see Clarke batting at 3, I remember his debut in India and thinking he should be batting at number 3. I mean it's not like Australia have any other batsman in the wings good enough for an international number 3..

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (August 23, 2012, 8:12 GMT)

Clark could always open and shift Watson down to number 3.

Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 8:06 GMT)

@jonesy since when have the marsh brothers been in australias best side ?

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 23, 2012, 7:58 GMT)

I said during the ODI series with England that pup should could out at 3. Either Watto or 'Switch-Hit Warner' keeps getting out early, so you need somebody steadfast like a Clarke/Trott at no. 3 to hold the innings together. Mike Hussey's back mind, so it will be interesteing to see how Aus. juggle their top 6...

Posted by ali00 on (August 23, 2012, 7:47 GMT)

My GREAT COUNTRY Afghanistan going to BEAT the AUSSIEs. Lets see

Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 6:04 GMT)


Posted by jonesy2 on (August 23, 2012, 5:42 GMT)

the marsh brothers not being selected and australia's best team not being selected makes me unable to take this tour seriously

Posted by zenboomerang on (August 23, 2012, 5:35 GMT)

Hope we go in with a full strength team against Afghanistan, instead of the mucking around with the batsmen & the batting order that has been so evident in recent series... Clarke really needs to focus on this, as its his responsability to pick the order of the team... Wade as the keeper needs a permanent spot in the team, whether opening or no.7 & be kept there - same goes for Bailey if he plays... Pushing players up & down the order regularly can hardly give them confidence of their role within the team - Clarkey, pull your head in & give the players a settled environment to work in... Same goes for the other selectors...

Posted by Meety on (August 23, 2012, 5:25 GMT)

I like the idea of Pup @ #3 for ODIs in asia/uae/WIndies, where spin could be opened with. Not sure Pup is at his best with the lure of the powerplays. Really happy we are giving Afghanistan a game. As Rixon says, it really is good for the game of cricket. Obviously I am wanting Oz to win, but hope to see Afghans run us close!

Posted by zenboomerang on (August 23, 2012, 5:23 GMT)

Wonder if this is an indication that Clarke is thinking of moving up in Tests?... The no.3 position has been a problem for a number of years now & really the best bats in the team need to be 3 & 4... Against India, Clarke @5 was really batting at no.4 or 3 when a opener got out, then Marsh going soon after... Unless Ponting get runs against the Saffa's, I think the move is inevitable...

Posted by Wozza-CY on (August 23, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

I see Clarke moving to No3 as a positive move. However, considering they both have slow stike rates, I don't think Bailey should bat 4, otherwise the innings could lose any momentum Watto & Warner have built up. So a Hussey should be wedged either side of Bailey batting 5. IMO Dhussey should be batting higher so... Dave at 4 and Mike at 6 to marshall the tail. With Wade coming in at 7 that looks a far more effetive line up, so hopefully they can improve on the efforts in the last series against the old enemy. Also, I've got a feeling PAK will bring spin into the attack early, so that is another reason to have Clarke at 3.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (August 23, 2012, 4:44 GMT)

Great news for the South Africans. Get one of the openers out and Clark is in for the news ball. Perfect.!

Posted by ravi_hari on (August 23, 2012, 4:37 GMT)

Its high time Clarke takes some strong decisions. Batting at No. 3 is the best for him. He can also look at Watson batting in the middle with Wade and Warner opening. Clarke, Hussey, Baily, Hussey and Watson make a very good middle order. It will also ease the burden on Watson a little bit. In tests too, Watson should bat at No. 3 once Ponting goes, until then he should be the No.6 in the team. Warner and Cowan should be given a long run. Considering David Hussey for tests is not a bad idea as a replacement for Ponting. On the bowling front too Clarke needs to pick the right people and distribute the work load equally. The spin department looks weak and encouraging Lyon and Hauritz to compete with each other would give good results. I think Smith lacks the intensity to play at the highest level in batting and could be a liability in the team. His fielding is a major gain but one cannot be selected for only fielding. If White finds form he should be considered again for the ODIs.

Posted by landl47 on (August 23, 2012, 4:27 GMT)

Good for Clarke for taking on the responsibility of batting #3. Hopefully he will bat there in test cricket as well. Clarke #3 and Watson #6 is a much more logical batting order for test cricket.

Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 4:10 GMT)

Great move by Clarke. Hope u fill in the shoes of Punter.

Posted by dsig3 on (August 23, 2012, 4:03 GMT)

About time, will be interesting to see how he goes. I would like him at the same spot for tests aswell. He is our best batsmen now, like it or not, he needs to be able to lead on the front foot. The difference between No.4 and 3 is more than one spot.

Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 4:02 GMT)

a move long my opinion if Bailey must play then he should be at 4 followed by the Hussey brothers..but then again why can't the selectors try Ferguson there????

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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