Australia’s Ashes hopes rest on leading man Michael Clarke
Following Ricky Ponting’s notorious unpopularity with English fans, it is somewhat ironic that the current Australian Test captain is perhaps more respected at the home of the Ashes holders than he is Down Under.
Having just been voted Wisden’s Leading Cricketer of the Year for 2012, Clarke will already be looking ahead to taking his 4/1 outsiders into battle in England in the summer, when the Aussies will be trying to reverse a trend which has seen them lose three of the last four series.
Given a timely if not altogether patriotic boost by the famous cricketers’ almanack – who also named England batsman Nick Compton as one of their five cricketers of the year, largely for his heroics for county side Somerset – Clarke will no doubt already be aware of his importance in the summer.
Whilst his personal performances have more often than not been of an outstanding nature over the past 12 months, Clarke the captain has faced difficulties.
He was a key figure in the decision to discipline four players – including his right-hand man Shane Watson – during this year’s tour of India, which ended in a 4-0 series whitewash.
The decision for an apparent failure to obey the management led to the popular Watson pondering his Test future, something which counted against Clarke as much as the heavy defeat did. A reoccurrence of his back injury and a bout of gastroenteritis have hardly helped matters.
Yet a stunning feat of four double centuries in a 2012 in which he scored 1,595 runs at an average of 106 mark him out as the key man that 4/9 series favourites England will target, with Clarke’s resistance sure to be central to the tourists’ hopes.
With England at 1/7 to retain the Ashes, the visiting captain has a lot on his plate.
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