Can Michael Clarke make a historic Ashes comeback?
There are two ways to live one’s life – be an ordinary man and the world will not care about your failures, or be an extraordinary man and have your life under 24*7 scrutiny. There is a baggage which comes with stardom. Be it famous actors, politicians or sportspersons; no one has been spared of this unwanted baggage. So, it comes as no surprise that the Australian skipper Michael Clarke is coming under the hammer for his own form and that of his team in the ongoing Ashes series.
When one has a batting average which is close to 50 after having played more than 100 Test matches one surely qualifies be in the extraordinary category. Add to it the fact that you are also the captain of your national cricket team and the onus increases manifold. Given this illustrious background, when your form deserts you and your team starts losing, you are bound to face criticism.
All eyes on Clarke in Trent Bridge
Hence, all eyes will be on Clarke as he leads his team onto the field in Trent Bridge. Questions are being raised over his future and the ruthless Australians will not take anything less than an Ashes victory.
Clarke cleared some speculations about his future and said that he had no intentions of walking away from cricket. “I am 34, not 37, and I want to keep playing for Australia beyond this series. However, I will be judged on performance, like everybody else”, he said.
This clarifies one thing – that the dreaded R-word is certainly not on his mind.
His performance as a batsman has been dismal to say the least. A total of 94 runs in 6 innings at an average under 20 in this Ashes series so far, does not do justice his caliber. A poor series with the bat coupled with an Ashes loss will surely not go too well with the Australian selectors who have traditionally been known to come hard on non-performers.
Clarke is obviously not the first Australian skipper who finds himself on such a dodgy wicket. His predecessors Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting have all been through this phase. Taylor & Waugh hit back at their critics by scoring Ashes hundreds whereas Ponting fought back with a century against the Indians.
A grand comeback in store?
Clarke said that he needs to find a way through hard work, self-belief and a bit of luck to get to 30 and it will be a different ball game from then on. Talking about luck; the news of injury to England’s leading wicket taker in the series so far, James Anderson, will give some relief to Clarke.
It will be interesting to see how the English attack fares in Anderson’s absence and it will be far more interesting to see how Clarke and his men in baggy green react to the challenge that the home side has given them.
The best answer to Clarke’s detractors would be a match-winning century which would level the series at 2-2. It is easier said than done but these are the situations which champions thrive on and he surely has been a champion over the last decade.