What a day’s cricket in South Africa last night, with records tumbling almost as fast as the Australian top order. Nineteen wickets fell for just 94 runs, Shane Watson took the fastest five wicket haul, four innings were played in one day for only the second time in over 100 years of Test cricket and 23 wickets fell in one day.
Apart from the fact it has made the series come to life, and set up a fascinating third day with South Africa needed 155 to win with nine wickets in hand, the frankness of Captain Michael Clarke was incredibly refreshing.
There are many who were unsure that Clarke was the man to lead Australia, even though he had been groomed for the role for many years, and it is still early days, but the signs so far are good.
Clarke led from the front in the first innings with a magnificent 151 and after Australia was dismissed for 47 did not hide as leader when he said “all I can say is the top seven of us, as a batting unit, have to take responsibility for what just occurred, it’s certainly not good enough and me as a leader, especially after coming off a good first-innings total, certainly needs to take the blame.”
He went on to say “A lot of times in my career, as I just said to the boys in the change rooms, the bowlers seemed to get criticized for us losing games of cricket, but I can guarantee you we have done nothing but put ourselves under pressure with our batting performance in that second innings.”
This frank and honest approach will no doubt have won over many of his doubters, some will say he had no choice but to take this approach following Australia’s total in 109 years. Fans these days want players, coaches and Captains to say it as it is and not try and hide behind boring cliché ridden rhetoric. That is why Clarke’s sound bytes are being played around the world today.
The big question is can he get the men under his command to respond to this new style of honest leadership? It promises to be an interesting day’s cricket, and hopefully a very good series.