Australia's batting has been about as strong as most people bowels on their trip to India, and there has been much debate, discussion and the usual bullshit on Twitter as to where Michael Clarke, easily their best player, should bat. Here our bud Thorpster, says he has to bat higher in the Baggy Green order, if he is to be truly thought of as a world class batsman.
At last... an army of battle weary top order batsman cried, as they read Michael Clarke's statement in this mornings written press. Pup said he had "no choice" in promoting himself to number three or four in the order and followed by saying, "it is about what is best for the team and I think I have to bat higher, especially in these conditions".
Not exactly rocket science some might say. Why would anyone who really is a team player and was on current form the most prolific and best batsman on gods planet be hiding away in the lazy boys hammock of the middle order?
Over the years we've seen plenty a middle order softy hanging round the bar area of numbers five or six, whilst the real men are up where the action is on the dance floor. As the likes of Ian Bell have proved, it's one thing knocking the old ball around in the middle order against tired bowlers, and another taking a deep breath after a long day in the field, sticking yer Gray Nicolls test openers on and heading out to face a fierce opening salvo in alien conditions.
I remember Bob Willis laying into to KP years ago about his life of luxury in the no 5 recliner as England's top run scorer. Whilst the formerly fuzzy haired paceman and England skipper turned pitbull pundit, suggested a move to number three, Pietersen was nudged up to four in the order. In a similar vein I remember when ex Windies skipper Jimmy Adams made his debut, and was soon averaging about 75 from number six.
When questioned by the great Tony Cosier as to where in the middle order the languid left hander should be plying his trade, Yorkshire's finest grinder (in several senses of the word), Geoffrey Boycott simply replied "opener". Some batsman used the excuse of being protected from the new ball, but the fact that Clarke is clearly an excellent player of spin combined with the fact that India's attack is dominated by the twirlers renders the argument senseless.
As any opener at any level knows and given that number three could be facing before number two, the top three is the place where the best batsman should be. Filling those roles for twenty years at club level I know the pain of losing the toss, being stuck in on an Lindsey Dawn McKenzie (a damp track), Abi Titmuss (a sticky dog) or Joan Collins (a track that has sweated under the covers), and grinding for an hour or so like Lord Rennart at the Lib Dem "conference". With 20 odd to your name from a similar number of overs with the LDM slowly drying to become an Ark Royal, you get out and steam back to the dressing room intent on wreaking havoc as if you were taking part in the summer riots of 2012. When you've finally cooled down and your bat smashed to many pieces, you trot out to watch as your club's equivalent of Pup smashes the 83 or 13 year old change bowlers to all parts, ending up on 65 not out.
|When an Abi Titmuss dries out, the middle order make hay!|
As they walk off with their average moving up somewhere towards Stephen Hester's annual bonus, due to their fifteenth not out of the season, your grudgingly applaud. You then slink off to the showers whistling "an openers lot is not a happy one" (corrupted from a Policeman's lot). Then in the bar all night you're forced to listen to their tales of how they've only been out twice in the last three seasons!
Judgement day has arrived for Michael Clarke. Is he a very good, great or truly world class batsman?
We will never know until after the toss he sticks his pads on at first wicket down, knowing he may be facing the second ball of the game, rather than keeping his tracksuit on for an hour and staying in his middle order comfort zone. Let's see if he can still stack the runs up in the top three, like other greats such as Ponting, Lara and Richards?
If he doesn't step up and take responsibility we'll never actually know.