Cricket World Cup Day 7: Australia captain threatens unity
In normal circumstances the return to fitness of a side’s leader should be cause for celebration and positive press. In Australia’s case Michael Clarke’s selection for the World Cup clash with Bangladesh is anything but.
The camp are making all the right noises; they’re delighted to have him back, the dedication he has shown to get healthy is incredible, etc etc. They are right in what they say and their gushing positivity almost detracts from the many changes the Australian side has undergone recently. But not quite.
Clarke’s recovery, hastened by Cricket Australia’s decision to set this Bangladesh encounter as a fitness deadline, means that the skipper who led the side to a convincing, rhythm-setting win over England in the Pool A opener is axed.
George Bailey, whose 55 in that match helped construct the thumping, will make way against the Tigers despite the Tasmanian leading his country in coloured kit since Clarke hobbled off the Adelaide Oval in December’s first Test against India.
Captaincy shuffles are nothing new to the tournament co-hosts during their summer though. Clarke handed the Test baton to Steve Smith for the remainder of the India series, while Bailey has deputised in limited-overs, except for the one match he was suspended when Smith took over again. Are you still following?
So far the kerfuffle hasn’t affected Australia’s performances, but with rumours suggesting Clarke is now the least popular of the three recent leaders the, 10/1 on a Bangladesh upset is long enough to warrant a speculative poke.
Once Clarke’s return is over, focus switches to Afghanistan’s second outing at the tournament, against Sri Lanka.
Like when Ireland faced the West Indies, the recent form of the more established nation leaves them terribly vulnerable for a headline-grabbing defeat.
The 9/1 underdogs are a Jekyll-and-Hyde side at the best of times, but will be able to capitalise on Sri Lankan insecurities if they are on a good ebb.
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