Ashes 2013: Michael Clarke's Impossible Struggle

Freddie WildeContributor IJuly 23, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 17:  Michael Clarke of Australia speaks to the media during an Austraian Media Session at Lords on July 17, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Michael Clarke is hopelessly lost. He’s a man who has seemingly done very little wrong to contribute to the omnishambles engulfing Australian cricket, yet he is the man who is the public face of defeat.

An exhausted, resigned, almost teary-eyed face of defeat. Clarke has been unable to arrest the horrendous catalogue of failings in Australian Cricket that have led to these dark days. 

Clarke is the man who must face the media. The wrath of hostile questions, the veiled abuse and criticism; but he has had almost no control over the macro-management of the Australian cricket team. 

Clarke did not oversee the slipping standards in the Australian Cricket Academy 15 years ago. Clarke did not restructure junior cricket in Australia. Clarke did not allow Rod Marsh to leave the Australian Cricket Academy and join the English equivalent.

Clarke also did not allow AFL to become more popular and financially attractive than cricket. Clarke did not shred the traditional domestic calendar in pursuit of money. Clarke did not make Twenty20 cricket an open gold mine for young Australian talent.

And Clarke did not fail to comprehensively implement the findings of the Argus Review. Clarke did not create the concept of informed player management.

Sure, he himself has made mistakes, most notably the handling of the 'homework saga', and the manner in which he has dealt with players such as Simon Katich and Shane Watson has raised eyebrows. But from what we understand no mistakes he has made are comparable to those made by Cricket Australia.

Cricket Australia have made macro-mistakes, Clarke has made micro-mistakes. 

Clarke’s position as captain allows room for panic and knee-jerkism, but when you consider that his team and nations cricketing aspirations have been dismantled by the Board, then you can understand such actions. He's merely a man desperately trying to rescue a broken system; something that doesn't legitimise his errors, but goes someway to explaining them.

Clarke was made captain of Australia and put in a public position of responsibility and importance, but his castle was already crumbling. Now, as it falls to the ground around him, he is defenseless, hopeless and lost. 

What can he do? Whom can he blame? Only himself and his team.

Of course, they are at fault, but only in the immediate sense. The batting collapse in the first innings at Lord’s was, in his own words, “unacceptable.” But if you asked him about the preparation that the domestic system affords young players for Test cricket, he would also say “unacceptable.”

But then he can’t. At least, he’d be ill advised to do so. Pat Howard, Mike McKenna and James Sutherland are his bosses. He is the public face of their failings.