Liverpool's Michael Clarke is the right man

This is no earth-shattering statement. Michael Clake is the best batsman in Australia and without doubt in the top three in the world.

The recently released Test match ratings have Clarke now no.1.

Few could argue. At 31 he is at or near his peak as a batsman. The Australian captain is a super player.

The smart cricket judges tell you the golden years for  a batsman are around 26 to 33 or 34. Some players continue to be very good, but not quite at their very best until their mid-30s. The decline, when the eyesight might diminish and reflexes slow, is around 35 to 36.

The first casualty of a batsman’s armoury is the footwork.

Once the feet become like clay, the confidence slides and so does the extravagant shot making.

And Clark is the logical man to nail down and make his own, the crucial No.3 batting position in the national team.

The Hobart Test team to play Sri Lanka has been announced and Phil Hughes is back in the side and he will almost certainly bat No.3. But Clarke is the man, although he prefers the No.5 spot.

Australia has tried more options at No.3 than a lotto player’s system entry in recent summers.

Clarke is the man, although with Phil Hughes recalled to bat at N0.3, Clarke will probably stay at No.5 or he even shift up to No.4.

Clarke’s technique, great defence, ability to play with a straight bat and watch the ball so closely, are all hallmarks a class No.3 batsman needs.

The mentally strong Clarke, has shown since taking over the captaincy that the extra responsibility agrees with him.

Many times since becoming captain he has come in at No.5 with Australia under pressure.

He relishes the pressure, the scrap, the fight, the challenge. It seems silly having your best player sitting around in the sheds for too long.

Clarke loves to get involved in a game of cricket.

Watch when he strides to the crease to start an innings, he settles in and gets down to the business straight away.

Clarke doesn’t like to muck aroun, he aims to get off the mark quickly and set the tone. He wants to dominate the bowlers. Let them know who is boss. He always runs the first single he takes hard.

Phillip Hughes deserves his Test recall and I believe has the makings of a fine player.

But Clarke, the Liverpool boy, who grew up eating, breathing and sleeping cricket is the man for the job at No.3.

In the workplace you get the right person to be the boss.

In politics, we look for leadership as Prime Minister.

You don’t buy a Ferrari and leave it in the garage to take up space.

You drive the damn thing.

Clarke is the Ferrari of the Australian team.

He should take up the challenge and say ‘‘I am the man for the No.3 position.’’

Clarke’s Test career reads, 6673 runs at 51.73, including 21 centuries from 84 Tests. In 2012, he has plundered, 1358 runs, averaging 104.46.

And a while we’re talking cricket, it would be remiss of me without congratulating Ricky Ponting on his mighty career at Test and one day level.

The right-hander departed the Test arena playing the same amount of Tests (168) as former skipper Steve Waugh.

And the comparisons between their respective careers are linked.

Both men got dropped at different times and came back stronger mentally and better players.

They didn’t sulk when dropped, but rather, went back to the Shieffield Shield arena and worked on their batting, found the inner strength to return for long and successful international careers.

Both men also had the honour of captaining their country. They played the game with a gilt-edge, were fearless when they batted, uncomprisiming, playing daring strokes and most of all led by example for their teammates.

They didn’t ask their Test playing buddies to do anything that they couldn’t.

Both were champions.

Unfortunately, for Ponting apart from a pretty good summer in the 2011/12 season against India, he departed the Test arena, not at his best against South Africa.

The South Africans were calculating in their bowling tactics.

They targetted him right on the middle and off-stump region and made him rush his shots which saw Ponting get tangled up and fall over a few times when dismissed.

The Adelaide Test first innings dismissal when Ponting ended up nose down on the pitch was evidence of this.

I suspect when he was walking back to the dressing room, the great Warrior, Ponting, probably thought his time has come.

Just days before the Perth Test, he pulled up stumps and said ‘‘it was time.’’

Ponting’s departure ends a strong link with a golden era for Australian cricket.

Ponting enjoyed success and thrived in a super squad of players such as Steve Waugh, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, etc, etc.

This current Test era is all about Michael Clarke shaping a new generation of players.

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