Brad Haddin backs Michael Clarke as Australia captain
Friday 31 December 2010
Michael Clarke may be unpopular with the public but he is the best man to lead Australia in Ricky Ponting's absence, according to his new deputy.
Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin has been installed as Australia vice-captain for the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney and will act as Clarke's right-hand man after Ponting was ruled out with a finger injury.
The two good friends, who have spent plenty of time together at state and national level, hope to oversee a series-levelling win after the disappointment of a rampant England retaining the Ashes in Melbourne.
Clarke's appointment as skipper was confirmed the day before a fans' poll placed his captain's approval rating at just 15%.
"The reaction with the public with all our players changes from week to week," Haddin pointed out.
"You're one good innings away - or sometimes one good cover drive away - from the support being with you.
"Michael's a very strong character so things will be okay.
"He's got a very good cricket brain. He'll do Australia proud."
While Clarke's lack of popularity mystifies those within the Australia camp, there is no doubting their loyalty.
Haddin said he spoke for all the players when he declared Clarke the perfect candidate to step in for Ponting.
"I've played most of my first-class career with Michael and he deserves to be Australian captain," Haddin declared.
"He is a very good captain. We've seen that in the Twenty20 form of the game and the handful of one-dayers he's led.
"We're 100% behind him. He's the best man for the job now Ricky's out.
"He's ready to do this job and he'll do a very, very good job."
The Australia team for the fifth Test has a completely different look to it, with changes in the leadership matched by changes to the XI.
Two players look set to debut - top-order batsman Usman Khawaja and spinner Michael Beer - in a real nod to the future.
But Haddin insisted the focus would be on the present in Sydney, with Australia desperate for Ashes redemption.
Asked what the team's approach would be now the urn had gone, Haddin replied bluntly: "To win - plain and simple.
"We're bitterly disappointed with losing the Ashes and we can't hide behind that.
"It still hurts but with sport these days you've got to get over it pretty quick and move on.
"We have lost the Ashes but we can still draw the series.
"The bottom line is we've got to win this Test match to get the series back to 2-2."
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