Blinkered Aussie approach sours NZ test win

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 11:10 13/12/2011
Michael Clarke
Getty Images
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Michael Clarke failed to acknowledge New Zealand's performance in his post-test speech at Hobart.

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OPINION: It's hard to know what was the biggest slap in the face - the blinkered Australian cricket public voting David Warner as man of the match over Kiwi hero Doug Bracewell or Michael 'Pup' Clarke's distasteful post-match television interview?

If we were in Australia, we'd roll out another of those dreadful mobile phone polls to answer the question, but let's not.

First things first, pandering to sponsors has gone too far. Over the ditch, gone are the days where the man of the match award is judged by an impartial panel of experts who look objectively at the merits of the contenders and, as a rule, pick the deserved winner.

No, now we have a situation where the Australian public jump on their mobile phones to decide the man of the match, with the player who gets the most votes receiving the official award. It's nothing more than a popularity vote.

Doug Bracewell was hands down the man of the match in Hobart. He took nine for 60 in the match, turning the result New Zealand's way on the fourth day with the defining second innings figures of six for 40.

Warner's 123 not out was a remarkable innings in the context of the match, but by definition he was not the 'man of the match'. Even Ian Healy would have to agree with that.

Warner got 58 per cent of the vote and Bracewell just 27, but Bracewell could have taken all 10 wickets in the second innings and still not been given the accolade.

Yes, it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things and you won't hear Bracewell, or any of the other Black Caps, complaining. They won, Australia lost, end of.

But the man of the match will be entered into the history books and those people reading those books in decades to come will not get an accurate reading of what transpired yesterday when they look at the man of the match column.

The test was decided by Bracewell's outstanding feats with the ball.

At the end of it all, Warner's knock was just another test hundred in a losing effort and will be quickly forgotten. Bracewell's spell won't be.

Veteran Australian radio commentator Jim Maxwell was highly critical of the public's decision, while Mark 'Tubby' Taylor, who provides a welcome modicum of objectivity in the otherwise cringeworthy Channel Nine comm box, was also hugely surprised.

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But they were in the overwhelming minority of fair dinkum Aussies, and given the way Clarke talked in his immediate post-match interview, he may well have been one of the 58 per cent in the Warner camp.

Yes, he was right to acknowledge Warner's innings, but he gushed with praise of No 11 Nathan Lyon's batting exploits in a 34-run partnership, without one single word of congratulation to New Zealand, who, let's remember, actually won the test.

There is a lot to like about Michael Clarke, the batsman, but Michael Clarke, the captain, lacks class if yesterday is anything to go by.

Even the man all New Zealand cricket fans love to hate, former captain Ricky Ponting, would have been the first to acknowledge New Zealand's performance in Hobart.

Sure, it's a lot easier to be gracious in victory, but Ross Taylor was all over Clarke in the captaincy stakes.

Without prompting, he heaped praise on Warner's contribution to the test, almost before mentioning his own team.

It's just a shame Clarke could not return the sportsmanship.

The Australian public should expect better of their test captain, but yesterday's mobile phone poll result also suggests they should also expect better of themselves.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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