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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Cricket Columns

Too many holes in Australia dam to plug
Ian Chappell, Hindustan Times
March 29, 2013
First Published: 00:04 IST(29/3/2013)
Last Updated: 02:13 IST(29/3/2013)

Apart from playing aggressive cricket, Australia have been renowned for producing fast bowlers, young stroke players, wily leg-spinners and strong captains.

A spate of losses in India, a dearth of young stroke-making batsmen and Mother Hubbard's cupboard when it comes to international standard wrist spinners, have Australia clinging to a good stock of fast bowlers and a tactically brilliant skipper.

However, Michael Clarke's first Test match missed through injury has shown up that Australia might also be struggling in the captaincy department.

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Doubtful future
Even though he's talented, Shane Watson would be lucky to hold his spot in his current form. Throw in the fact that he was suspended for the Mohali Test for ill discipline and the picture regarding future Australia captains is looking murky.

Let's say Clarke's terminally bad back allows him to perform his duties for another four years. Who in the current squad are the next full-time captaincy candidates?

It would have to come from David Warner, Matthew Wade, Steven Smith, Phillip Hughes or Moises Henriques. Now that sounds like an impressive list. However, on closer inspection the picture resembles a Romano, rather than a Rembrandt, as none of those five choices has established himself as a Test player.

With drawbacks
Both Wade and Warner are probably closest to that definition but they have drawbacks. Wade is a keeper and traditionally they are shunned as Australia captains, except in the fill-in category, and Warner is an all-or-nothing batsman and this can create its own difficulties.

Still, I wouldn't write off Warner as he will naturally become a little more conservative with age. The real concern for Australian cricket is the failure to throw up talented young batsmen. It is from this group that the bulk of the captains arise for the simple reason that the skipper is usually a batsman and around 27 is the ideal time to take over the leadership role.

If a captaincy candidate comes into the Test side at around 20 years he's (hopefully) matured, both as a cricketer and as a person, by the time he reaches his peak playing years.


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