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Monday, December 15, 2014

Aussies select young Steve Smith as Captain overlooking Brad Haddin

In Test no. 1308 – way back in Oct 1995 at Bangalore, India won by 80 runs and this man debuted.....  (see last para)… What is Captaincy – is it an art – that of taking right decisions at the right time …. Or – Captain, simply is as good as the Team.  For long when Clive Lloyd ruled the roost, he had 3 great pace bowlers and a couple of good pacers streaming in all the time, creating mortal fear – batsmen used to crumble and matches won – still, Lloyd lost his last Test at Sydney and the last One dayer too.

The Indian Captains from 1970s would read : Ajit Wadekar; Srinivasan Venkataraghavan; Sunil Manohar Gavaskar; Bishen Singh Bedi; Gundappa Viswanath;  Kapil Dev; Dilip Vengsarkar; Ravi Shastri; Krishnamachari Srikkanth; Mohammad Azharuddin;  Sachin Tendulkar; Sourav Ganguly;  Rahul Dravid; Virender Sehwag; Anil Kumble;  MS Dhoni;  Virat Kohli..  In the list, Gundappa Vishy led in 2 tests, Ravi Shastri in a solitary; Srikkanth 4 -  Venkat was to lose the Captaincy in an ignominy – reportedly the news was broken in the PA system of the aeroplane when the team was travelling back, Gavaskar became the Captain.   Captain cool is a cliché often used to describe MS Dhoni – generally, Indian Captain is a Senior and mostly a batsman… and traditionally the Vice-Captain would succeed !

Often, people ask – ‘who could be rated as the best Captain ?’.  It is difficult and not so proper to compare people with mere statistics when things occur in different eras, against different quality opposition.  Not all Captains take control on deciding every moment on the field, rotating bowlers, field placements, strategising the opponents out and the like.  Mike Brearley considered to be a genius skippered England between 1977-1981, never scored a Test century and had a paltry batting average of 22.88.  Ian Botham, the mercurial allrounder was not a good Captain and Sachin Tendulkar too. 

In the 2nd Test, it is going to be MSD again and not Virat Kohli – the victors are confused. Michael Clarke's injuries left Australia staring at the prospect of appointing a new captain for the Test series.  There were reports that it would be Brad Haddin who efficiently marshalled the fifth day proceedings.  There is Shane Watson, Mitchelle Johnson is a Senior – so also is David Warner.  Clarke was all praise for the 37year-old wicketkeeper and Test vice-captain, saying, “Hadds did a fantastic job. He has got a lot of other senior players around him which I'm sure would have helped him, they certainly help me when I'm out there.

Lehmann, meanwhile, suggested traditions were meant to be broken and there was no guarantee the vice-captain would always replace a captain. Traditionally , the Aussies have often believed in making their best batsman the captain – and now comes the news that Steve Smith (only 25)  has been named as Australia’s 45th Test captain.   He is not the youngest though – Ian Craig is the youngest at (22Y 194 days) and Kimberly John Hughes led at the age of 25.   Steve Smith has played 23 tests scoring 1749 runs at 46.03 – he is 415th Test player and 45th Test Captain.  He has led NSW in the Sheffield Shield final earlier this year, scoring a ton as the hosts recorded a draw to win the competition.

Clarke tore his hamstring while fielding on the final day of Australia's first-Test victory over India in Adelaide and the 33-year-old admitted he may never play cricket again in the wake of persistent back and hamstring issues.   Smith is the youngest Australian Test captain since Kim Hughes took over from Graham Yallop for the second Test against Pakistan in 1979.   Smith was to say - "It's something I've always dreamed of doing. To know I'm leading Australia in Brisbane and for the rest of the series is an amazing thrill." Despite being named captain, Smith is still one of the youngest members of the Test team, but he said he had no reservations about giving orders to veterans of the game and was adamant he will look to Haddin for guidance at times.

Australia and its selectors are different George Bailey led Australia in two World T20 campaigns, getting to lead his debut match itself.  Then he surprised everyone by standing down and making himself unavailable for the T20s against Pak in UAE and SA at home wanting to concentrate and get a Test berth.   Getting back to that Bangalore test  at the start, Lee (Kenneth) Germon made his debut in that test.  He went on to play 12 tests scoring 382 runs with a solitary 50 and 37 one dayers.  He was the Captain, Wicketkeeper and was making his debut in an International match.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

15th Dec 2014.

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