x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Clarke needs a good Australian side to lead

Clarke takes charge at a time when Australia is facing a talent famine. But it is his leadership that will be under scrutiny.

Australia will have an answer to their most pressing question over the next five days: is Michael Clarke the man to lead their cricket team out of these difficult times?

Previous Ashes defeats at home have invariably led to a regeneration of Australian cricket and the emergence of leaders such as Richie Benaud, Ian Chappell, Allan Border, Steve Waugh and others.

Can Clarke follow in their footsteps? He has certainly been groomed for the job and has had success in the two limited-over versions of the game, including a run to the final of the World Twenty20 last year.

Of course, Australia lost to England in that title clash and as things stand, it will be difficult for Clarke to avenge that loss and finish the Ashes series 2-2.

Clarke takes charge at a time when Australia is facing a talent famine.

But it is his leadership that will be under scrutiny. Many expect him to lead in the manner of the greatest Test captain Australia never had: Shane Warne.

Clarke was schooled by the great leg-spinner in his early years on the world stage.

"Warney was a very aggressive captain," Clarke said. "I don't think I'm that aggressive, but I've learned from him on the field."

So there might be glimpses of Warne when Clarke leads his team in Sydney. Will that work for Australia's 43rd Test captain and help him avoid a first Ashes defeat at home in 24 years?

Let's just say, the presence of a leg-spinning genius (Warne), a metronomic pace bowler (Glenn McGrath) and a legion of indomitable batsmen would have helped his cause.

arizvi@thenational.ae