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Michael Clarke names his favourite IPL captains

Clarke feels there is no need for Aussie cricketers to quit playing IPL.

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Former Australian batsman and skipper Michael Clarke said on Saturday that the hardest format of the game for a captain is T20. He feels that the shortest format of the game provides the captains with the maximum number of challenges and hardships. Clarke, who is working as an analyst and commentator in the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) justified his statement by saying that unlike Test or ODI, in T20 cricket a captain does not get much time to analyse his moves.

Michael Clarke was the captain of the Australian national team for three years, from 2007 to 2010. Currently, three of the eight captains of the Indian Premier League (IPL) teams are Australians. Whether it is Steve Smith’s Rising Pune Supergiant or Glenn Maxwell’s Kings XI Punjab, they are in the hunt for a place in the playoffs while David Warner’s Sunrisers Hyderabad has already qualified.

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Smith took over the reigns of Pune from former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and changed the complexion of the side completely. Maxwell too has done well with Punjab, whereas Warner’s team is the defending champions in the IPL.

It is clear that the Aussies are maintaining their dominance and aristocracy, which was started by the legendary Aussie spinner Shane Warne. He was the captain of Rajasthan Royals, who won the first edition of IPL back in 2008. Regarding Warne’s triumph, Clarke said, “Shane Warne is a great example of that. The way he led Rajasthan, that team, to the final. Yes they did well as a team but he got the best out of his players and he captained that team tactically very very well.”

Speaking to The Times of India on the sidelines of ‘Michael Clarke Cricket Academy’, which collaborated with a Kolkata-based counterpart aiming at providing young prodigies with the opportunity to train in Australia, he said, “T20 cricket is probably the hardest format of the game to be captain in because it’s all about your gut instinct. You don’t have time to go and talk to your vice-captain or talk to your other senior players. Or stand beside your wicketkeeper at slip and ask for his advice. You see it, you feel it and you have to make a decision straight away. I think captaincy is one of the most underrated things in T20 cricket. A great captain can win you a tournament.”

Clarke’s favourites

Though there are three captains from his country fighting it out in the IPL, he feels that Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan’s captaincy is unmatched. “Gambhir has been outstanding. Zaheer Khan has been phenomenal as well. You have to make really quick decisions as a captain in the shortest format. Sometimes they work sometimes they don’t,” he explained.

When asked about if he felt anyone from the young generation would be able to make it to the Indian jersey, he replied: “The Pandya (Hardik and Krunal) brothers from Mumbai. (Ajinkya) Rahane from Mumbai. Rishabh Pant, watching him bat last night… There are so many…There is so much talent in Indian cricket and that’s why I love the IPL so much because it exposes Indian talent and gives the world an opportunity to see how good these players are.”

The Big Bash League (BBL) has unearthed many unknown Australian talents, and Clarke feels IPL will do the same for India. “It’s like the (Big Bash League) BBL in Australia. The Big Bash had done exactly the same. It has allowed young Australian players the opportunity to play in front of big crowds, under pressure, televised games, You learn that before getting to the international stage. I think Indian cricket is in really safe hands. There is a lot of talen,” Clarke said.

When asked about Royal Challengers Bangalore’s dismal show even after having some quality T20 players in their rank like Chris Gayle, he said, “RCB has got a lot of talented players, they are led very well by a wonderful captain in Virat Kohli. They haven’t performed very well this season but I am confident they will turn it around next year.”

Recently, Cricket Australia (CA) encouraged their ‘Numero Uno Category’ players to sacrifice their IPL contract for a three-year national team contract. But Clarke feels there is no need for Aussie cricketers to quit playing IPL since this is the stage where they can build character and gain much-needed experience of playing in sub-continental turfs.

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