The Investec Ashes 2013 July 9, 2013

Clarke retreats from Ashes legacy

49

Australia's captain Michael Clarke is in retreat. If not in retreat from England, then certainly from history.

On the eve of the first Test at Trent Bridge, Clarke was adamant that the next 10 Ashes matches would not define him as a player or a captain, and that they were no more important than any Test against any other nation. As globalised thinking, it could perhaps be construed as refreshing. But on the day before going into battle against an accomplished and experienced England side, it almost sounded as though Clarke did not want to stake too much on a series he may very well lose.

"I've read it will make or break my reputation as a captain. Personally, I don't feel like that," Clarke said. "Every Test match I play in, every time I walk out to bat I try and make a hundred, whether it's against Bangladesh, India, South Africa or England. That doesn't change my mindset. Because of the history and tradition of what comes with Ashes cricket, which is fantastic, it obviously builds this series up and that's great for the game, but as a player my mindset will be no different than it was last summer. Every time I captain Australia I want us to win.

"I understand there's so much expectation that comes with an Ashes tour, and that's from fans back at home, this is everything to an Australian fan, the biggest series you play as a cricketer. But as a player, that expectation I have on myself every single day, I'm not more disappointed if we lose the first Test against England than if we lose the first Test against South Africa or India and the excitement when we win will be no different. There's no more pressure from within."

By contrast, England's captain Alastair Cook was comfortable enough in himself and his team to accept the extra weight that comes with an Ashes bout, particularly one to be played over an extraordinary two legs, spanning 10 cricket grounds, 50 playing days and two continents. Cook's England are warm favourites, but he said the additional expectation from the rest of the nation and the world was something the best players learned to live with and ultimately thrive on.

"They are the biggest Test matches we can play, as an Englishman or an Australian," Cook said. "The history and the tradition and the rivalry, how much the whole country gets behind both sides whether you're in England or Australia. I think it can define a career. It's not the be all and end all, but I've had some very fond memories in Ashes series of winning it and hope to add a few more over my career.

"I think the external pressure and the hype is that there is more interest in the country in general. For players who are aware of that and can deal with that, clearly the cricket stays the same. It's the same 22 yards, the same red ball, but it does heighten. That's where you want to test yourself, in increased pressure situations."

As much as Clarke did not wish to acknowledge it, Australian cricket's direction over the past two years has been aimed primarily at putting up the strongest possible bid to wrest the Ashes back from England. The Argus review that followed the 2010-11 defeat at home stressed the need to prioritise Test cricket, and the elaborate player fitness management regime overseen by the team performance manager Pat Howard was geared towards ensuring all first-choice players would be fit for the first day's play in Nottingham.

Lastly, the summary removal of Mickey Arthur two weeks ago to be replaced by Darren Lehmann was deemed imperative because Australia's next opponents were not Bangladesh, nor anyone else. The Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland, the chairman Wally Edwards, and Howard all agreed that the quest for the Ashes required decisive action.

So far it has worked. Lehmann's appointment has sent a rush of good feeling and relaxation through the touring party, and Clarke counselled his men to enjoy themselves. "The media and the public will build it and it's a fantastic series to be a part of, so instead of being scared of it, enjoy every single moment," Clarke said. "Love being out there and hearing the Barmy Army, seeing so many people in a packed house, love walking out at Lord's for the first time for the guys who haven't experienced that.

"You spend a lot of time together, it's always tough cricket, but the boys are in a fantastic place. They're excited about what lies ahead and we know we will walk out there and give our absolute best. We have prepared as well as we possibly can. Guys are excited about facing if the ball is swinging or reverse swinging or if Graeme Swann is spinning it. We have a chance to play against a very good England team, in their own backyard, we've got nothing to lose, we've got a great group of players with plenty of talent, let's get out there and enjoy every minute of it."

Just don't think it will define you.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • disco_bob on July 9, 2013, 9:09 GMT

    Commons sense really. No doubt he will be an excellent captain, but this is a side that has not even come close to finding its feet and there's no way that he can be held accountable for the wayward displays of his often erratic charges. If he can coax an even contest out of them then he would have done well. If he leads by example as he mostly has done then it's as much as anyone could ask.

    But let's not forget Cook, he won in India and that's an achievement in itself but this double series could well define HIS captaincy, especially if Clarke's young disciples can show a bit more grit as a unit.

  • on July 10, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    Cant write off the Aussies. They are mentally tough to beat and Clark along with support from Watson can make it tough for the england.

  • kdevil3 on July 10, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    This is poor from Clarke afraid of loosing ... we want the fight Hope the Coach change will encourage you

  • on July 10, 2013, 8:18 GMT

    This is Not Expected of a Aussie...:( go out Fight, That should be the spirit, We in India also watch the Ashes, We want GOOD and INTENSE Cricket, dont let cricket down.

  • on July 10, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    Such a biased article! Agree with Damos below...he also said it's the biggest series you can play in as a cricketer. Hardly worth the headline

  • 2020sux on July 10, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    @vvsr92 who ever suggested ricky ponting was Australia's best ever captain? maybe his mum, best Aussie batsman of his generation arguably, doubt he would be in top 5 captains though. England are clear favourites but are also vulnerable if we play well enough. i do think New Zealand played well above (their bowlers anyway) expectations so thinking those results mean england are on the slide are really optimistic. our (Aus) years dominating world cricket means that everyone relishes handing us out floggings where possible so hoping for complacency is probably wishful thinking. whatever happens it will be enthralling

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on July 10, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    What kind of Aus captain come out and says something like this? Now England look like favorites, he is distancing himself big time from the Ashes. For most, it's the biggest sporting contest on earth. For Clarke, it's not as important. Self-preservation is.

  • xylo on July 10, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    As much bs is being built upon the 'inestec' ashes, almost everybody knows what the outcome is going to be. so why bother? i believe clarke coated this statement with diplomacy.

  • on July 10, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    Big Maxy Walker, what planet are you on? You seem to know nothing about team dynamic. Otherwise you wouldn't be suggesting that Haddin be replaced when he is the glue in this side; the hard nosed pro that gives the team a tougher edgr. AlsoSteve Rixon who Iis probably the best coach in the country certainly on technical matters but also having a hard edge. I see an anti NSW bias here. Well just to annoy you, you should realise that all the batsmen were bred in NSW except Watson who now plays there. Even Rogers was born in Sydney and his father played for NSW :)

  • AidanFX on July 10, 2013, 2:41 GMT

    Well the external pressure will no doubt be there. I have to admit though I did not like hearing Aussie players talk up the Ashes whilst they were in the midst of a series against India. Just as I did not like Indian players talking up "when you guys tour in our land". If Clarke's attitude is honest - it is the right attitude and one that the Aussie team needs to apply. The former great Australian team took each series seriously and prepared meticulously for each team in advance and during each series.

  • disco_bob on July 9, 2013, 9:09 GMT

    Commons sense really. No doubt he will be an excellent captain, but this is a side that has not even come close to finding its feet and there's no way that he can be held accountable for the wayward displays of his often erratic charges. If he can coax an even contest out of them then he would have done well. If he leads by example as he mostly has done then it's as much as anyone could ask.

    But let's not forget Cook, he won in India and that's an achievement in itself but this double series could well define HIS captaincy, especially if Clarke's young disciples can show a bit more grit as a unit.

  • on July 10, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    Cant write off the Aussies. They are mentally tough to beat and Clark along with support from Watson can make it tough for the england.

  • kdevil3 on July 10, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    This is poor from Clarke afraid of loosing ... we want the fight Hope the Coach change will encourage you

  • on July 10, 2013, 8:18 GMT

    This is Not Expected of a Aussie...:( go out Fight, That should be the spirit, We in India also watch the Ashes, We want GOOD and INTENSE Cricket, dont let cricket down.

  • on July 10, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    Such a biased article! Agree with Damos below...he also said it's the biggest series you can play in as a cricketer. Hardly worth the headline

  • 2020sux on July 10, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    @vvsr92 who ever suggested ricky ponting was Australia's best ever captain? maybe his mum, best Aussie batsman of his generation arguably, doubt he would be in top 5 captains though. England are clear favourites but are also vulnerable if we play well enough. i do think New Zealand played well above (their bowlers anyway) expectations so thinking those results mean england are on the slide are really optimistic. our (Aus) years dominating world cricket means that everyone relishes handing us out floggings where possible so hoping for complacency is probably wishful thinking. whatever happens it will be enthralling

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on July 10, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    What kind of Aus captain come out and says something like this? Now England look like favorites, he is distancing himself big time from the Ashes. For most, it's the biggest sporting contest on earth. For Clarke, it's not as important. Self-preservation is.

  • xylo on July 10, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    As much bs is being built upon the 'inestec' ashes, almost everybody knows what the outcome is going to be. so why bother? i believe clarke coated this statement with diplomacy.

  • on July 10, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    Big Maxy Walker, what planet are you on? You seem to know nothing about team dynamic. Otherwise you wouldn't be suggesting that Haddin be replaced when he is the glue in this side; the hard nosed pro that gives the team a tougher edgr. AlsoSteve Rixon who Iis probably the best coach in the country certainly on technical matters but also having a hard edge. I see an anti NSW bias here. Well just to annoy you, you should realise that all the batsmen were bred in NSW except Watson who now plays there. Even Rogers was born in Sydney and his father played for NSW :)

  • AidanFX on July 10, 2013, 2:41 GMT

    Well the external pressure will no doubt be there. I have to admit though I did not like hearing Aussie players talk up the Ashes whilst they were in the midst of a series against India. Just as I did not like Indian players talking up "when you guys tour in our land". If Clarke's attitude is honest - it is the right attitude and one that the Aussie team needs to apply. The former great Australian team took each series seriously and prepared meticulously for each team in advance and during each series.

  • Alexk400 on July 10, 2013, 1:32 GMT

    Michael clarke is most untrustable captain of any team in cricket history. He is always looking for next scapegoat for his team failure. We all know he is good batsman and decent tactician but his style of my way or no way is bad man management methodology. I really think major issue with aussie team is lack of batting talent. Then have to blood young players. They are not doing that for past 5 years. They have seriously midget players with limited range of shots and lack of self belief in them. Nothing beats the youth. They needs to keep giving under 19 players without acting desperate. Just guiding players into smooth transition is my cup of tea. I rather make scout team to analyse talent and present them to board. This way selection become business as well.

  • on July 10, 2013, 0:51 GMT

    Clarke will be captain no matter wins the the Ashes. There is one else to do the job. Simple really

  • 5wombats on July 9, 2013, 22:11 GMT

    @maddy20 let me help you with your comment which seems to have a few typos... "What about the thrashing you got in Australia - ? 4-0 whitewash wasn't it?, embarrassed by England in England - a 4-0 whitewash and this whilst supposedly number one as well? And not to mention the England at home series disaster"? There, that's much better. We had all this "mid-table" yap during the 2010/11 Ashes and then in 2011 and 2012 England showed India who it was that belonged in mid-table. Now it's happening all over again and need we remind you that India will be coming back to England next year. Now that is going to be fun to watch.

  • Damos on July 9, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    I think this article is an opportunisitc interpretation on his comments to take yet another shot at the captain. I don't think he is retreating from anything. All he is saying is that he treats every game the same and wants to win all of the time. Isn't that what we want from him?

  • VVSR92 on July 9, 2013, 20:07 GMT

    oh no pup ! you might be right & also the saying "a captain is as good as his team" unfortunately if ur an aussie the ashes is the seris you are gonna be judged upon . Ponting who was called greatest aus skipper ever has been critisized after 2 back to back ashes losses . Thats way aussies look at it though not accurate , but there wont be a danger to your captaincy career even if results are not good , so time to relax & try your best & give everyone a cracker of double-header ashes .

  • maddy20 on July 9, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    @ 5wombats One series win in close to 30 years is enough for ya? What about the thrashing you got at home from SA, nearly embarrassed by NZ in NZ and not to mention the Abu Dhabi disaster? Having said that Aus has very little chance of usurping England. It seems like Clarke has foreseen defeat and already accepted his fate before the series even began. Possibly the worst captain to lead Aus in the last 20 years or so.

  • on July 9, 2013, 19:23 GMT

    It's good to see asheh games and to hear Australian team is playing against England with 4 openers for the first game whom are: roger, Watson, Cowan, Warner. The Australian team is too scared that's why they're opening with 4 openers for a test match. As well, Clark wants to put Warner only because they are friends; that is called favoritism. Warner doesnt even play practice matches & they want him to play? Lol ridiculous. They should give better players a chance that way ur team will be successful

  • Charlie101 on July 9, 2013, 19:17 GMT

    I don't think that there are many supporters of cricket who do not rate Clarke as a fine batsman and a good tactition on the field however his man management has been extremely poor . Hence the Mike Hussey retirement - Hussey knew if he told Clarke of his plans he would not have been selected - homework gate and a extremely unhappy team . I have the impression that team moral was boosted during the TC beause he was not about and you do wonder in hindsight if he was distancing himself from Mickey Arthur , knowing he was going to get the chop. A captain has been appointed as a selector and suddenly selection is a mess - Maxwell selected for a test - Hughes and Warner undroppable .This last speech reminds me of a teflon coated politiciian making sure the minions will take the blame so he does not have to fall on his sword.

  • 5wombats on July 9, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    @the_blue_android on (July 9, 2013, 18:08 GMT) - England beat India home and away - remember? Probably not. And it only happpened 6 months ago. Mid table may be - but still too good for India. Enjoy the series.

  • king78787 on July 9, 2013, 18:33 GMT

    Clarke, it kind of will. 10 tests is a lot of cricket and a can change massively in 3 tests. By the end of January 2014 Trott might be in danger of losing his place due to poor scores and form, Swann might no longer be England's first choice spinner and Root might have been dropped. This could happen to England quite easily and Austrailia are in a much worse state. So Clarke these series are what you will be remembered for. No pressure...

  • the_blue_android on July 9, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    Ashes is nothing but a duel for mid-table ranking supremacy!

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on July 9, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    Hopefully Paine can be installed as keeper/vc before the home ashes series. And Clarke no longer as captain would help. The amount of ridiculous talk coming out of them and their tendency to play favourites with players and staff(Pat Howard and Steve Rixon) is unacceptable. Oh for the days of a tough captain like Ian Chappel or AB

  • fahad_pakistani on July 9, 2013, 16:59 GMT

    Clarke is simply trying to play down the hype. He knows that If he loses these two ashes series, it is most likely that he will do a kim hughes. Anyway, this is nothing compared to india vs pakistan!!! If players perform well they r national heroes, hav dinner with the president etc. but if they lose they r axed nd get hate mail. Fortunately that does not happen with the ashes, so really not as much pressure on clarke than,say, misbah.

  • Mitty2 on July 9, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    What @landl47 said. Although Clarke is having a bit of a cop out by suggesting that these series' aren't defining. Regardless of expectation, they will define him as a captain (is he tactically sound but a terrible man manager; is he in the league of Kim Hughes; is he Allan border standard?); define him as batsmen and define him as a person - atleast, the public perception of him as a person. Whatever he might say about the preparation being the same, these series' will still be the critical point of his career.

    On cook, well... If he and England lose this series in one that many have suggested 5-0, there will be a massive backlash. The pressure is on him more than it is on Clarke.

  • landl47 on July 9, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    I think they are both saying the same thing, but in different ways. It's really the old cliché, take one game at a time. Clarke's correct in saying that players must try to do their best in every game they play and Cook is correct in saying that there is more public interest (in Australia and England) in this series, creating more pressure which good players deal with by taking one game at a time.

    From a historical perspective, captains are judged more by how well their team played measured against expectations than by series won and lost. Of course, exceeding expectations usually leads to series being won!

  • on July 9, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    my Australian lineup will be: watson rogers warner Clarke khawaja smith haddin siddle starc pattinson lyon. I expect steve smith to be the surprise package and the player to watch out for. he has improved his batting a lot. he score hundred against Ireland and good scores in the last fc match. he is also one of the best fielders in the team.

  • on July 9, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    Clark is a good captain.. but this time the story will be different if England batsman doesn't play well, Aussies will be the underdogs. which reminds me how England fought back to win Ashes in 2005. That is what Aussies should do to regain the ASHES.

  • Dismayed on July 9, 2013, 13:26 GMT

    Clarke continues to show he is not a leader of men but a boy looking after his own interests. With Clarke and somehow Haddin back running the show this team will again struggle. I will make a prediction. Haddin will get out with 10 overs to stumps at least 3 times in the series which will ultimately cost 3 tests.

  • on July 9, 2013, 13:01 GMT

    People that say Clarke is not a good captain clearly dont watch Australia play test cricket. Clarke is a thinker on the field and an aggressive and clever captain.

    @Ms.Cricket. Thats a very selective list of result under Clarke's captaincy. You forgot: drew 1-1 in South Africa beat India 4-0 and being player of the series. beat WI 2-0 in WI beat Sri Lanka 3-0 And the 1-0 loss to south africa(#1 in the world) included Australia being on top in the two other tests. In Adelaide, Australia lost Pattinson to injury early on and then couldnt quite get the last wicket because of a herculian debut by Du Plessis. So its very silly to just pick out some poor results and paint a picture of a failed captaincy. We were very lucky to have such as great batsman and captain to take over from Ponting. Without Clarke, Australia would be nowhere.

  • jmcilhinney on July 9, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    @RJHB on (July 9, 2013, 10:57 GMT), the difference here is that Australia are the underdog. If Australia do win then it may well define Clarke's career but a loss will not because, while they'll be disappointed, most Australian fans either expect it or consider it a high likelihood. The main issue is failing to live up to expectations. As long as Australia don't disgrace themselves like they did in India then Clarke's reputation won't suffer.

  • sharidas on July 9, 2013, 12:19 GMT

    I am not a big fan of Michael Clarke, but, what he said here is nothing to be stated as in retreat or whatever. Its plain and clear that he has not inherited the best of players, but this is a team that can grow with experience. What I gather, that he meant is that he always gives his best irrespective of which team he is playing against and that may be only an encouragement to every member of his team to do the same and not worry about the results. Obviously that is what Darren Lehmann told him and I see nothing wrong in that !

  • on July 9, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    Clarke is a fantastic captain. He leads from the front with his batting but most importantly he looks to win every test. Just look at his declaration when the team was behind in the 1st innings in the West Indies and his declaration when he scored his triple century against India when he had a chance to break countless records. Aus have taken much better sides to india than he took and still lost so that shouldn't count against him. He almost lead his team to a series win against South Africa and has found a way to keep an inexperienced team in the top 4 test teams in the world. He is far and away the best man to captain Australia at them moment.

  • on July 9, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    This series is going to be extremely close. The Aussie bowlers have been extremely underrated. My prediction for the series: the winning side will be the one that holds their catches....thats how close this series will be.

  • Ms.Cricket on July 9, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    What reputation as captain has Clarke got? Lost to South Africa at home 0-1, thrashed by India 0-4, losses in ODI series to Sri Lanka 2013, England 2012 among others, poor discipline standards, favouritism etc etc. A great batsman yes, a good captain definitely no.

  • on July 9, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    clarke is not a leader.. he's just captain for namesake.. its proved many many times in past 3 years.. he already lost the series by saying "I've read it will make or break my reputation as a captain. Personally, I don't feel like that". he knows he isnt capable of winning the ashes. if aus wins the series(which isnt possible with clarke as captain), then the credit goes to extraordinary performance of few players like watson n bowlers n not clarke's captaincy. the qualities of a captain/leader should be great +ve attitude n mentality, confidence in his team, ability to make players play as a unit n rise n rise as a team. in the current oz team, only watson is a leader.

  • SherjilIslam on July 9, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    Still no comment from FFL, That's really surprising. BTW Clarke's approach is right.At the end of the day you come to the ground to give your 100% against any nation, any place.Since it's Ashes, a bit historical and the kind of fan following this series enjoys, makes it very scrutinizing for the captains and the players. So the margin or error in Ashes or an Ind-Pak encounter is minimum.I think, it's the last chance for Michael Clarke to prove his credibility as Captain, as a batsman, well he's a class act.

  • 64blip on July 9, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    Disagree disco_bob, this is a team Clarke had a big hand in creating. Clarke is in denial: "we've got nothing to lose" - yeah, right. This double series is unique and it's an opportunity for either captain (and team) to leave a lasting mark. Cook knows it.

  • 2.14istherunrate on July 9, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    I find it instructive to read what Clarke is saying about the Ashes not being that big and only one series in many. Ahha! I remember that feeling well-when we were getting absolutely crucified. In the mid nineties. Before and after. No,these Ashes series were unimportant and would end sometime and so what. It is bad for Australia that that feeling has reached the top. But it is also indicative of the meltdown which Australia are already undergoing. To us, the most likely winners of course, these series are so big! This phenomenon is very interesting!! Mental disintegration (already deep in progress) is the term which seems to fit the bill.

  • RJHB on July 9, 2013, 10:57 GMT

    Yeah don't agree. The Ashes IS test cricket. It's the oldest, it's the most steeped in history, the most prestigious. Does anyone think Allan Border cherishes the centuries made against Sri Lanka or NZ more or as much as those made against Botham and co at Lords, or believe that his captaincy career wasn't defined by that unforgettable 1989 series? Of course not. Ponting will be remembered for many things great, some bad. One of the bad is two losing series in England, both of which Australia were clearly the better side and should've won. That's the Ashes. For us, it's what matters most and is remembered. Clarke would be no different.

  • jimbond on July 9, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    The least he can do from his side is to do a Lara- hit a couple of double hundreds or a triple hundred in at least two of the five tests- irrespective of the performance of his team. The best he could do- could be to mobilise his team into a fighting unit so that the likes of Hughes and Watson end up scoring big. The second scene looks unlikely. Hence he has to do the first, and hope that independently some of the others in the team also stand up.

  • Teachers on July 9, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    I tend to agree with Clarke. He has inherited the best team he has to play England, a team in rebuilding after Ponting and Hussey. How his captaincy is viewed should not depend on the outcome. Clarke is saying that he will do his best as captain and batsman. He hopes the rest of his team do the same. The odds are stacked against him simply because England is the better team at the moment. Should he win, it will be because he has put in his best as he always will, against any opposition, Ashes notwithstanding. Should he lose, it should not define his performance as captain, accepting that he and the team have done their best.

  • YorkshirePudding on July 9, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    Me thinks the Lad prostests too much, to be an Ashes winning captain is something players on both sides dream about, as there is so much shitory between the two sides, especially if the team that wins are underdogs, Jardine in 1932/33, Illingworth in 1971, Border in 1989, Brearely in 1981, Vaughan in 2005.

  • on July 9, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    I sometimes feel pity for the Australian team. During the early 2000's they are so many great players and they would start as favorite in any format and any tournament. Now just the opposite. Anyway even if Oz suffers 10-0 defeat, I would still support Clarke as he is the only hope for Australian cricket. Rest are either too inexperienced or too much distracted. In early 2000's there were potential capt candidates like Warne, Gilly besides Punter. But now Clarke alone seems to be the fighter. Not to forget the injuries he is suffering in the recent past.

  • nayonika on July 9, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    Don't worry Michael Clark, your team will win the series in England. This is my gut feeling and I've been more times right than not.

  • on July 9, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    I wish the Australian Cricket side the very best of luck in their endeavors... They will need it all !

  • fatier on July 9, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    I just hope he doesn't gets injured during the series.It will be a big blow to the Australian camp and will,for sure,create panic and Australia will definitely be agonized at the hands of England.But if he retains his form,I am sure this will be a tough series. I'm hoping for a good Australian line-up,which can challenge the likes of Cooks and Andersons. My team: 1.Watson 2.Chris Rogers 3.Usman Khawaja/Ed Cowan 4.Michael Clarke 5.Philip Hughes 6.Smith 7.Haddin 8.Ryan Harris 9.Pattinson 10.Jackson Bird/Starc 11.Nathan Lyon

    For #3,I might just go with Ed Cowan.Albeit,I am a big Khawaja fan but he just isn't in the form he used to be in.When he debuted,his average in FC was 51 but now it is 42.That shows he had been floundering in the past couple of years. Although I think he'll have a great series,but lets give Cowan one last chance. No Warner because Australia needs to balance lefties and Righties to make difficult for England to settle down

  • on July 9, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    Not sure if it will break your reputation if you lose . But damn sure that it will increase your reputation as a captain if you win or even make it as close as possible .

  • Ozcricketwriter on July 9, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    Clarke might be saying that it doesn't matter to him and I can tell you that most people are expecting England to win 3-1 or 3-0 in the 5 test series and the best anyone is predicting for Australia is a 2-1 loss. If Clarke loses 5-0 then he will be forgiven, especially in England, but any loss in Australia will get people angry with him. But - if he can win the test series in England, however remote the chances might seen, he will be known as the greatest hero Australia has had probably since Allan Border lifted Australia from worst in the world to the best.

  • djdrastic on July 9, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    Yes it will affect how people look at your captaincy .

  • djdrastic on July 9, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    Yes it will affect how people look at your captaincy .

  • Ozcricketwriter on July 9, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    Clarke might be saying that it doesn't matter to him and I can tell you that most people are expecting England to win 3-1 or 3-0 in the 5 test series and the best anyone is predicting for Australia is a 2-1 loss. If Clarke loses 5-0 then he will be forgiven, especially in England, but any loss in Australia will get people angry with him. But - if he can win the test series in England, however remote the chances might seen, he will be known as the greatest hero Australia has had probably since Allan Border lifted Australia from worst in the world to the best.

  • on July 9, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    Not sure if it will break your reputation if you lose . But damn sure that it will increase your reputation as a captain if you win or even make it as close as possible .

  • fatier on July 9, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    I just hope he doesn't gets injured during the series.It will be a big blow to the Australian camp and will,for sure,create panic and Australia will definitely be agonized at the hands of England.But if he retains his form,I am sure this will be a tough series. I'm hoping for a good Australian line-up,which can challenge the likes of Cooks and Andersons. My team: 1.Watson 2.Chris Rogers 3.Usman Khawaja/Ed Cowan 4.Michael Clarke 5.Philip Hughes 6.Smith 7.Haddin 8.Ryan Harris 9.Pattinson 10.Jackson Bird/Starc 11.Nathan Lyon

    For #3,I might just go with Ed Cowan.Albeit,I am a big Khawaja fan but he just isn't in the form he used to be in.When he debuted,his average in FC was 51 but now it is 42.That shows he had been floundering in the past couple of years. Although I think he'll have a great series,but lets give Cowan one last chance. No Warner because Australia needs to balance lefties and Righties to make difficult for England to settle down

  • on July 9, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    I wish the Australian Cricket side the very best of luck in their endeavors... They will need it all !

  • nayonika on July 9, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    Don't worry Michael Clark, your team will win the series in England. This is my gut feeling and I've been more times right than not.

  • on July 9, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    I sometimes feel pity for the Australian team. During the early 2000's they are so many great players and they would start as favorite in any format and any tournament. Now just the opposite. Anyway even if Oz suffers 10-0 defeat, I would still support Clarke as he is the only hope for Australian cricket. Rest are either too inexperienced or too much distracted. In early 2000's there were potential capt candidates like Warne, Gilly besides Punter. But now Clarke alone seems to be the fighter. Not to forget the injuries he is suffering in the recent past.

  • YorkshirePudding on July 9, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    Me thinks the Lad prostests too much, to be an Ashes winning captain is something players on both sides dream about, as there is so much shitory between the two sides, especially if the team that wins are underdogs, Jardine in 1932/33, Illingworth in 1971, Border in 1989, Brearely in 1981, Vaughan in 2005.

  • Teachers on July 9, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    I tend to agree with Clarke. He has inherited the best team he has to play England, a team in rebuilding after Ponting and Hussey. How his captaincy is viewed should not depend on the outcome. Clarke is saying that he will do his best as captain and batsman. He hopes the rest of his team do the same. The odds are stacked against him simply because England is the better team at the moment. Should he win, it will be because he has put in his best as he always will, against any opposition, Ashes notwithstanding. Should he lose, it should not define his performance as captain, accepting that he and the team have done their best.

  • jimbond on July 9, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    The least he can do from his side is to do a Lara- hit a couple of double hundreds or a triple hundred in at least two of the five tests- irrespective of the performance of his team. The best he could do- could be to mobilise his team into a fighting unit so that the likes of Hughes and Watson end up scoring big. The second scene looks unlikely. Hence he has to do the first, and hope that independently some of the others in the team also stand up.