New Australia captain Michael Clarke is an astute cricket tactician, but will need to be more “formal and firm” in his man-management, according to spin-bowling great Shane Warne.
Clarke was appointed Australia’s 43rd Test captain on Wednesday in place of Ricky Ponting, who had resigned a day earlier, and departs with his first squad to Bangladesh for three one-dayers on Monday.
Warne, who took 708 Test wickets in a glittering career and remains a highly influential voice in Australian cricket, said Clarke, a close friend, was the right man for the job but would need to further develop some of his skills.
“As far as a leader of men goes, this is where I think Michael can improve,” he wrote in his column for yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. “The way he conducts himself is laid back and fun by nature, but as skipper he will need to become a bit more formal and firm.”
“In dealing with his team, I believe he has their respect as a player, but now it’s time to earn that respect as a leader — firstly from the extended Australian cricket family and then the public,” Warne said.
In other areas, though, Warne said he thought Clarke, who turns 30 today, was already the finished article.
“His communication skills remind me of a young Mark Taylor, who was the best captain I played under,” he wrote.
“He works well with the bowlers and we don’t see him running up to them after every ball — that’s a good thing by the way — or looking like a cop directing traffic,” he said. “Some captains like that because it’s a power trip — look at me, I’m in charge.”
Warne, who never captained his country in Tests because of off-field indiscretions, said he thought Clarke’s style of captaincy would suit a team that does not enjoy the ascendancy that Australia had in Warne’s heyday.
“His tactics are spot on and his style of play is aggressive,” Warne wrote. “With a team in transition, it’s important to put players under pressure. That is, you have to risk losing to win, not be happy to not lose and draw.”
“That way the players learn how to win and learn by their mistakes. You can’t just be defensive, sit back and hope someone will make something happen. You must be pro-active and set the ground rules out from day one,” he said.
“We know we won’t be No. 1 again in any form of the game for some time but if the attitude of the team is ‘try to be the best we can be’, then the current group can’t do any more than that,” he said.