Clarke's Lara theme affecting Oz team unity

Published: Friday, February 6, 2009, 11:58 [IST]
 

Melbourne, Feb.6 (ANI): Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke's desire to spend as much time as possible with his fiancee Lara Bingle is creating heart burn within the team, and rumor mills are agog with reports of him engaged in scraps with mates over the issue.

Reports suggest that so deep are the fissures within the squad; that questions are now being asked whether Clarke is up to the job of leading the side, a position that he has been wanting for most of his cricketing life.

According to Daily Telegraph and Fox Sports, his altercation with opener Simon Katich in the SCG dressing room, reported on the back of today's newspaper, is the latest incident that questions his credentials for the job.

It came after he gave teammates the hurry-up during the rendition of Under The Southern Cross I Stand. He had an appointment he wanted to keep with Bingle.

The Australian team is fracturing because of ongoing catfights among wives and girlfriends. A blue between wives and girlfriends on the 2005 Ashes tour splintered team harmony, the unspoken undercurrent to Australia's stunning series loss.

In India this summer, a tour when Australia needed its vice-captain to get in and help pull the team up, rumblings instead went around about Clarke's absence. He was having prolonged breakfasts and lunches with Bingle. He spent the night at the Allan Border Medal kissing Bingle like a love struck teenager.

His distraction highlights his immaturity for the captaincy job, and the fact it is coming at the cost of performance exacerbates it.

So his disrespect for team protocol following the SCG Test, to hurry up the celebration so that he could leave and join his girlfriend, has angered many.

It destroys the dressing room culture that has been so vital to Australia's ethos.

As every recent player is not allowed to forget, it was on the back of this restoration in pride - Under The Southern Cross I Stand - that Australia rebuilt itself from the horror years of the 1980s.

Clarke is media-savvy, with the cool looks and the hot girlfriend, the tattoos, the slick image and flash car. Together, the package is near perfect for the job.

Former Test captains are openly appalled by Clarke's desire for Ricky Ponting's job. They believe it is disloyal to Ponting, some even believing he should be sacked as vice-captain because of it.

After a particularly long day in the field against South Africa in Melbourne, for instance, he was asked why Australia didn't bowl Katich.

"Ask the captain," he said, "I don't make the bowling changes."

A weak-willed response, it was seen by former greats as a deliberate affront to Ponting.

Little instances all, together they suggest Clarke has not shown he is ready for the role.

Still enough remains of the guy who was in a dust-up at Northies, with former Parramatta halfback Tim Smith, to cause concern.

The guy who labelled West Indian Chris Gayle a "second-class citizen", which had enough racial undertones to provoke Gayle to action. They had to be separated.

In the Australian culture, the Test captaincy is second only in esteem to the office of Prime Minister.ome put it above that, and not because it pays better.

Clarke is the boy most likely, there's no doubt.

But as Australia faces a sensitive decision as to wives and girlfriends for the upcoming Ashes tour, it might finally be time for him to lead the way. (ANI)


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