As Australia comes to terms with their unexpected loss to England in the recent ICC Twenty20 World Cup Final, questions must be asked as to whether Michael Clarke’s form warrants a spot in Australia’s starting eleven.
Taking over the Twenty20 captaincy from Ricky Ponting, Clarke’s record since being handed the reigns has been exemplary, losing just one of fifteen matches in cricket’s most unpredictable format. However, throughout his 31 match career he averages a disappointing 21.85 runs per innings with a strike-rate of just 101.39, extremely low by today’s standards. Furthermore, there are plenty of talented youngsters pushing hard for selection.
Of the current players who have represented Australia in the Twenty20 format, both Luke Ronchi and Adam Voges have superior records yet aren’t currently in Australia’s best eleven. Ronchi averages 23.50 runs per innings with a massive strike rate of 174.07 whilst Voges averages 31.50 with a strike rate of 121.15. Throw in accomplished One-Day players such as Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine and Callum Ferguson, and there’s enough evidence to suggest Clarke’s position is in serious jeopardy.
This situation has been seen many times in world cricket in the past, none more famous than Mike Bearley captaining England during the late 1970s. Bearley averaged a paltry 22.88 in his 39 Test Matches for England, never scoring a century. However his record of losing just four of 31 matches, including winning The Ashes on three occasions whilst in charge, was far superior to his predecessors.
As recently as last week, Clarke has emphatically defended his position in the team and is committed to continue on as captain. He is openly confident he can turn his personal troubles with the bat around and prove his value, much like he has in the two longer versions of the game. This however remains to be seen and the forthcoming Twenty20’s against Pakistan in July may just make or break his Twenty20 career.