Kaymo’s Korner: Captains must carry the can

2013-06-30 14:00

Last time I checked, captains, not coaches, carry the can for the team on and off the cricket oval.

While I feel sorry for Mickey Arthur and his messy execution from the Australian coaching job, the silence on captain Michael Clarke’s role is deafening.

In cricket, coaches are basically guides in a bushy thicket where only they can warn players of the thorns.

How the players navigate these minefields is entirely up to them.

In reality, since January 2007, when a clutch of superstars called time on their careers, Australian cricket has been in a downward spiral.

In the intervening period until now, there has been a shuffling of deckchairs by Cricket Australia, but no definite solution.

Their predicament, with all the buck-passing, sounds peculiarly South African.

In the 21 years from 1986 to 2007, Australia had only three coaches: Bob Simpson, Geoff Marsh and John Buchanan, all of whom presided over different stages of Australian cricket development.

Since readmission, South Africa has had six coaches, with Arthur’s tenure coinciding with that of Buchanan’s.

All had strong captains who took responsibility for team behaviour while the coaches dealt with smoothing out the rougher edges.

Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting all had to deal with the prickly Shane Warne.

Shane Watson and David Warner will never contribute collectively the same as Warne did on his own, but Clarke’s failure to root out the rogue elements in the team has made Arthur look bad and has somehow tainted the role of senior players.

The mark of a good captain is the ability to synchronise different characters’ demands and pull them together.

Hansie Cronje’s match-fixing infamy will live on forever, but he was gifted at getting his team to pull together, making life easier for the late Bob Woolmer.

As enterprising as Clarke may be on the field, he has failed Arthur in the dressing room as much as Arthur has failed himself by not adapting to the Australian team culture.

At the end of the day, South African and Australian cricket cultures are as far apart as the ocean that separates them.

Australia is a country where the player, not the coach, comes first. This could explain why their exports have done so well.

There are exceptions, but the player, especially during a revolution, will always hold the aces. But in doing so, they also need to take responsibility, with their captains.

After all, they are the ones who will sink with the ship.

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