Ashes 2015: Get off Michael Clarke's back, everyone has a bad series. I don't see any problem with him

Inside Edge: Mark Taylor, Greg Chappell, Steve Waugh - they all had periods of not making runs

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The Independent Online

Even if Australia lose the Ashes, I expect Michael Clarke to carry on. I know his drive and passion for the game. He won’t leave. I can see him playing on, even if the captaincy moves on, like Ricky Ponting did.

In any series, some guys will make runs and others won’t. That’s the way it is. It’s been an up and down series, some good cricket and some bad cricket from both sides. The idea that attacking the Australian captain for underperforming, with his record and all that he’s done, seems ridiculous to me.

You’re allowed to have a bad series. You’re allowed to have a bad few series. Alastair Cook has, Ian Bell has too, Lara, Tendulkar, all the great players have had a bad series. I don’t think it’s a big thing.

Even if we lose the series and Michael doesn’t make runs, it doesn’t mean he’s a terrible player. He knows he’s got to make runs, but so do a lot of other guys as well.

 

The one thing none of his critics understands is that Test cricket is bloody hard work. If it was an easy job everybody would be averaging 70.

He hasn’t made runs this series, he’s angry about that, and he’s said so. But questioning his desire? All those players there are giving 100 per cent, there is no doubt about that. Mark Taylor, Greg Chappell, Steve Waugh, guys like that, they all went through bad series, periods of not making runs.

It’s like when England lost the Lord’s Test, and everyone started hitting the panic buttons. I’m getting asked: “should Ian Bell retire?” Then he comes back, scores two fifties and no one’s talking about Ian Bell. At the end of the Lord’s Test, England were down and out and people were calling on players to retire. Now it’s Michael Clarke who’s got to go. Well, what if he comes out and scores 150, and Australia win? Then it all goes away.

Obviously if the Ashes are lost, that puts a lot of guys under pressure. But that’s to be judged at the end of the series. England kept Cook through a far worse run than this. It went on for years.

People have got to understand there has been some quality bowling as well. Most international sides win at home. England are a phenomenal bowling side at home. The Duke ball, the swing. When England come and bat in Australia, facing Mitchell Johnson and our quicks on bouncy wickets, they don’t like it. But there’s been great bowling. Steven Finn’s bowled well. Maybe this is a series that bowlers will dominate and it’ll be hard to bat. It doesn’t mean you’re out of form.

Maybe Michael has a plan in his head, about when and how he’d like to go, maybe he doesn’t, but he’s only 34. Jacques Kallis played to 38. The only thing questioning him will be his fitness, his back, his hamstrings. You also don’t know about his eyes, at 35, if they start going. But I don’t see him as someone who wants to leave the game early.

For the meantime, he’s fine. I don’t see any problems with him.

Our attack was good enough at Lord’s, why panic now?

Peter Siddle has always done well in England, but after the Lord’s Test everyone was happy with the bowling attack. And now, one Test later, it’s all about how we should react.

In the sides I played in, we didn’t tend to react straight away by dropping players, picking new ones.

The two left-armers, doing their thing, Starc and Johnson, it worked at Lord’s. As a batsman, I know who I’d rather be facing.

At Edgbaston, England didn’t make big scores either. The Lord’s Test, that is the worst kind of Test match of all. Where one side makes 600 on a flat deck, and then you get bowled out cheaply. That means your players gave up and rolled over.

That second innings for England was terrible. The last Test was very different. Australia didn’t do what England did. There were good bowling conditions,  both teams bowled well and England  were better. But England found it hard  to bat as well.

The key is to bounce back again, otherwise we’re in trouble. But the bowlers have done well.

I wouldn’t be reacting too quickly to the loss of the last Test match.

Series is too tight to call but Finn and Broad may swing it

I have no idea how to call this series. How on earth do you do it? I have no idea what will happen next.

I know that playing in England is hard work, and you’ve got to get momentum back on your side. At Lord’s we had to play well on the first day, and we did. And we have to do the same here at Trent Bridge, whether we bat or bowl.

But if England go on and win the urn, it will have been Finn and Broad who’ve won it for them with the ball. In the batting, I’m a massive fan of Joe Root, and it’s dangerous to have Bell getting back into form because he is a world-class player. Cook at the top, if he does make runs he does it at a steady pace.

For us, I’d like to see Dave Warner get into the series in a big way. When Warner gets going it’s always a great confidence boost for us. If he could get a hundred, it’d be great. And we need Smith and Clarke to get back into the series.

If too many guys from the top six don’t make runs, you are going to lose.

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