Four thought: Clarke urged to move up order

CHRIS BARRETT
Last updated 09:34 04/12/2012
Michael Clarke STD
Getty Images
UNSTOPPABLE: Michael Clarke has now scored 1428 runs in test match cricket in 2012.

Relevant offers

Cricket

Black Caps returning to Nelson's Saxton Oval to take on Bangladesh Eden Park set to host day-night cricket test against England in 2018 Australia cricketers embrace guided missile technology in Ashes quest Mitchell Starc ready for Caribbean comeback against South Africa and West Indies Black Caps coach Mike Hesson extends contract til 2019 Cricket World Cup Black Caps batsman Colin Munro's IPL campaign over as Sunrisers beat Kolkata Black Caps star Matt Henry inspires Worcestershire to big win over Leicestershire Daniel Vettori and Bangalore into IPL final thanks to stars de Villiers and Watson Creaky, leaky Basin Reserve snubbed for England test as NZC loses patience Kiwi teenager Glenn Phillips hits 36 off one over at historic English cricket ground

Greg Chappell, the former Australian captain and selector, believes Michael Clarke should rise up the batting order to No 4 in the wake of Ricky Ponting's retirement, despite having a poor record in the position.

The exit of Ponting after 17 years in the Australian top order leaves Clarke and his fellow selectors with much to consider before the coming three-match home series against Sri Lanka and beyond to India and then Britain next year.

Phillip Hughes, dropped twice already in his test career despite only just turning 24, is the leading candidate to fill Ponting's boots, ahead of Usman Khawaja and Rob Quiney, but he won't be assuming his usual place at opener unless there is a radical rethink of the Australian order.

There are other questions in piecing together Australia's batting puzzle. Where is Shane Watson, a new-ball specialist, best suited? And where should Clarke, the best batsman in the team, be stationed in the post-Ponting era?

Chappell, who is Cricket Australia's national talent manager, is in little doubt about which point the captain should be walking to the middle. ''I've always felt that you want your best batsman batting as high up the order as possible,'' Chappell said. ''He's probably not a No 3, considering his temperament and that he's done most of his batting elsewhere, so probably No 4 is the right spot for him.''

The only complication is the fact he has not enjoyed anywhere near as successful a record higher up the order. In 28 innings at No 4, the 31-year-old has averaged only 20.93, an 18-month period that came to an end on last September's tour of Sri Lanka. Since shifting back down a spot, he has been a run machine, compiling seven centuries - one of them a triple, three of them doubles - at an average of 76.45.

Chappell argues Clarke's previous posting at No 4 is of minimal relevance, however. ''I think he's a very different player now and that shouldn't be a concern,'' he said. ''The huge difference to Michael Clarke from days gone by to now is [he is] much more positive and really backing himself. The batting line-up would work just as well with him at No 4 as it does with him at No 5.''

One of the most pressing issues for Australia after the South Africa series is an inconsistent top order that only once in five innings against the Proteas reached 100 by the time the third wicket fell. In Brisbane, they were 3-40, in Adelaide, 3-55 and 3-91 and, in Perth, 3-34 and 3-102. The reliance on Clarke and Mike Hussey is a recurring theme selectors will be desperate to address.

Ad Feedback

''It's a big moment in Australian cricket but there have been big moments before,'' he said. ''It's the old saying: 'One door closes, another door opens.' Here it is again.

''Having said that, I think it's a great moment to pause and recognise one of the great batsmen of all time. It shouldn't be allowed to pass lightly but I'm hoping there's a young batsman out there that grabs hold of it and runs with it.''

Hughes, leading the Sheffield Shield tally for the season with 518 runs at 51.8, is on the brink of a recall, having remodelled his game and changed states to South Australia since being discarded for a second time a year ago.

National selector John Inverarity has previously raised the prospect of Hughes being chosen at No 3, with Watson playing at No 4. If Clarke rises to No 4, though, there would need to be a thorough rethink about how the order falls together and which new batsman comes in.

- Sydney Morning Herald

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should bouncers be banned from cricket?

Yes - they're too dangerous

Neutral - it is what it is

No - it's just bad luck when it goes wrong

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content