Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney December 31, 2010

Haddin backs Clarke as captain


Brad Haddin spent his first full day as Australia's vice-captain insisting Michael Clarke, his new master, is the right man for the top job. A new cricket leader is usually a time for celebration in this country, but Clarke's appointment for Monday's fifth Ashes Test at the SCG has been greeted with extreme caution.

Ricky Ponting is missing the match due to a broken finger and Clarke enters the fixture in poor form and with only pockets of public support. None of that matters to Haddin, who says the team is 100% behind the leader.

"He is ready to do this job," Haddin said at the SCG. "He'd be excited about the prospect of captaining Australia and he will do a very, very good job. We're 100% behind him and, being a good mate of mine, I'll support him in any way I can. He deserves to be in this position ... he's the best man for the job."

Haddin, 33, said the public reaction to all the Australian players changed from week to week. However, Clarke's rating among large sections of the community, particularly in his home state of New South Wales, has been more consistent. His lack of runs in the series - 148 in eight innings - hasn't helped endear Clarke to the detractors and the lukewarm response adds to the pressure on the country's 43rd Test captain.

"You are one good innings away, or sometimes one good cover drive away, from the support being with you," Haddin said. "Michael is a very strong character so things will be okay. He has got a very good cricket brain and you saw that through the T20 World Cup [when Australia made the final]. He thinks a lot about the game, he is going to do a very good job."

Haddin, who hopes his elevation is temporary, has played 31 Tests since replacing the retired Adam Gilchrist in the middle of 2008. He has leadership experience with New South Wales and gets a close-up view of the game as wicketkeeper. It will be interesting to watch how he juggles his post as one of the team's verbal enforcers with his new responsibilities.

The first aim for Australia is to show some signs of collective improvement after being thoroughly out-played in three of the four matches. The hosts are upset to have failed in their push to regather the urn - Haddin said the results were "unacceptable" - but they will aim to take comfort in a victory in Sydney.

"It's disappointing we have lost the Ashes and we are disappointed in our own performance, but you have to move on pretty quick in sport," he said. "We have to win this Test match to make this series 2-all."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Richard on January 2, 2011, 11:10 GMT

    @Pramodh Primo Nayagam-Strong words there mate. There's no law preventing Sri Lanka becoming test No.1 but it's not handed around on a rotational basis just so everyone can have a go you know. You're going to have to do a lot more winning and a lot less losing. Until that occurs it's all a lot of hot air.

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    Clarkey is the true clown of Australian Cricket, and his right hand man Haddin is a right australian muppet. Australia's reign as leading test and ODI nation is finally over, and now Sri Lanka can claim its place as Number 1.

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    whoever is saying clarke isn't a good captain....he will smack their faces with a hundred at SCG....just wait n watch.....aus will win the final test!

  • Dean on January 2, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    The main issue I can see with Clarke taking the captaincy now, and keeping it, is his recent woeful batting which can change quickly, ask Hussey. Further to Aussasinator comments I suspect he will surprise a few people (most of his critics hopefully) with his leadership abilities and tactical nouse. HOWEVER what started as a simple short bowling tactic employed by Eng/specificially Broad durng the ODI's series in July has developed into a much bigger issue. Pakistan's Ameer and Co used the same tactic with success in the following test series. Then in India Clarke looked like an ungainly tail-ender when playing anything short directed at his body/head. Watching him fend off deliveries from Khan and Co. was just embarassing. Now Eng have continued with the tatic in this series and aside from his 81 in Adelaide (he was dropped on 16 from memory) the issue has now changed his entire batting style. I can only assume Langer (batting coach) and Clarke have been/are working on the ptoblem...

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2011, 2:10 GMT

    brad haddin is the best option at this moment.but only for test team.

  • Martin on January 2, 2011, 0:21 GMT

    @hyclass; your posts are matchless - I always look for them. Spot on observations! You show the distilled essence of passion that THE ASHES always generates. Bless you sir.

  • aaditya on January 1, 2011, 19:13 GMT

    i think ricky ponting may get an extended run only because some of his deputees just arent gud enough!!aus cricket was looking perfect couple of years ago but now its really difficult to understand what happened to them!!i am not sure of clarke as the leader because he is a guy with a lot of issues other than cricket..his public break-up with an australian model has probably affected him throughout!also not sure if he enjoys the support of all players..remember katich and clarke had a heated argument when katcih was to sing some team song & clarke wanted to leave early to meet his girlfriend!!the other candidates are equally less exciting!hussey was on the verge of being dropped bfore the ashes but now has cemented his place for some more time before aus travel abroad to another country!!cant say much at katcih and watson!!who's left??haddin probably!!atleast he keeps his place as a keeper if not as a batsman!!SA took a chance with smith 8yrs ago..can aus do the same ??

  • Subba on January 1, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    Clarke has a better cricketing brain than Ponting and the team seems to gather around him a lot more than they did with Ponting, who was'nt much of a unifier and played largely for himself and his batting. the mere absence of Ponting has infused a new energy in this this side and as an England supporter, I would be wary of it and urge England to be a lot more ruthless from the word go..

  • Christopher on January 1, 2011, 12:12 GMT

    Ive noticed a recent theme in australian cricket. Im sure thats its mandated by Sutherland, Nielsen and Hilditch who adhere closely to its mantra. Its a performance contract that demands that the players, coaches, selectors and administrators get paid by the word-not the run, wicket or success. Fortunately, Ponting and Co. are in great form here, filling tomes with incomprehensible garbage-often the same garbage-and still no closer to a run or wicket. Of course this game must be far easier than the rest of the cricketing world believes. Ponting played a test match unable to catch on his left or hold the top of the bat. Can you imagine the lack of respect for the opponents and traditions that he must have. I was fascinated to hear the commentary of Mark Nicholas subtley alluding to the 'crooked angle of the bat' in his dismissals. Its hard to play straight with one hand. Fortunately, there were plenty of words post match-more money-and on the well paid product endorsements in between.

  • Christopher on January 1, 2011, 11:33 GMT

    Once again, the BS brigade crank into full spin doctor voice. "We're behind the captain". Perhaps they mean on the bus seat on the way to the game. Im sure they read from prepared scripts. I was interested to see the perth wicket in the recent Big Bash 20/20 described as a perfect batting wicket. What a far cry from the trampoline produced there for the desperately contrived "victory" with only the perth specialist making runs. It was fascinating to hear Siddle attribute his form loss and back injury to not being aware of the level of work he needs on his physical strength. Is that possible as a well paid professional surrounded by so called coaches. How inspiring to find Hauritz dropped,widely recognised as one of the most improved test cricketers. That worked well. Ive seen footage of Clarke being dismissed by pacemen at the start of his career. Its the same dismissal to the same ball all the way. Great coaching. The current mood is the product of 2 years of BS-not one ashes series.

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