It is not easy being the captain of the Australian cricket team. Mark Taylor was the captain in the ’90s. He got Australia a few Ashes trophies and generally had the team top of the world. But he himself had one of the worst runs with the bat – hardly scoring anything in his crucial position as opener. Does Australia believe in emotions and reputation? No. Mark Taylor was first dropped from the one day team (Steve Waugh became captain) and soon was out of the test team as well. At a fundamental level, Taylor as a batsman was not scoring runs. So he had to go, irrespective of the fact that he was the captain and his team was winning.

Now Michael Clarke is facing the same problem. He took Australia to the final of the T20 World Cup (where they lost to a superior England team) but he himself had an awful tournament. Not surprisingly, there are already indications that he may be out of the T20 team.

Note: in both Mark Taylor and Michael Clarke’s case, they are dropped or will be dropped because of their lack of form as a batsman. You may be a captain but first you are a batsman or a bowler and there is a basic expectation or contribution that is due. If you are incapable of delivering that, then being a captain is redundant.

This is the message that the Australian cricketing system puts on all its players. Before all those titles and recognition and awards etc, there is the basic job of batting or bowling or fielding (and it has to be top class). That keeps everyone on their toes. That drives people like Hussey, Nannes, Watson, Bollinger, Siddle to always strive for performance. It is what makes Australia a team of 11 matchwinners, unlike other countries of the subcontinent like India where we have only a couple of matchwinners led by a captain who is supposed to be a general factotum and a number of support players.


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