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Michael Clarke: Leadership, responsibility and an even better cricketer

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Ever since Michael Clarke was recognised as Australian captain in waiting, he has been continuously battling to prove himself a worthy successor to the likes of Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. His performances in the last few months buried all apprehensions about his leadership as they seem to indicate that if there was a role Clarke was born to play, it was that of the Australian skipper. The Australian cricket team has undergone a massive metamorphosis over the years and after the Ashes debacle is now in the process of rebuilding. The transition has been a rather smooth one till now as his side has already registered 5 victories in only 10 tests under his regime.

For some cricketers, the burden to lead the side could have an adverse effect on their performance but Clarke's batting average has got a great boost since he took over the baton to be Australia's full time Test captain. He now averages 54.9 since being appointed Test skipper, as compared with 46.49 before taking over the role. He has scored 4 centuries since March last year and has already developed a special aura of an inspiring and a complete captain. His 151 against at Cape Town two months ago against a lively South African attack when the chips were down and his 139 safely that guided Australia to a 9 wicket win over New Zealand were some innings to remember in what is only the beginning of what looks like a promising era for Aussie cricket under Michael Clarke.

In the previous test at Sydney, Clarke led Australia from the front in every aspect of the game and answered his critics by thrashing the visiting INdians by a whopping margin of an inning and 68 runs in the 2nd game of the series. It was the amazing 288 run partnership between Clarke and Ricky Ponting that turned the game in Australia's favour with Clarke stealing the show with an awespiring triple hundred. He not only put Australia in the driving seat with an exceptional knock of 329, but also scalped Sachin Tendulkar's wicket the very next day for 80, thereby denying India any hope of saving the test.

Australia's media have called his innings of 329 to be the innings of the 21st century and added praise for his selfless leadership to declare Australia for 659/4 while he had a rare chance to break Brian Lara's record of the only quadruple century in Test cricket when the opposition was down for the count after being on field for so long.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph called Clarke the "King of the SCG" adding "329 runs, 468 balls, 609 minutes... 1 legend," under a picture of Clarke (the 25th triple centurion).

Clarke has already gained personal accolades and exceptional reviews for his work from many cricketers of the previous generation. Even in ODIs till October 2011, his side has strong record of winning 26 of 35 matches under his captaincy. But he modestly expresses his gratitude to his predecessor, Ricky Ponting, for showing him the way to lead the team while Ricky insists that his successor has undoubtedly become a much improved batsman after gaining the experience to lead the side.

His much talked about decision to trust the experience of Ponting & Hussey ensured Australia not only the victory in the 1st test at Melbourne but also re-instilled confidence in these two premier batsmen, now at the twilight of their careers. His trust in his inexperienced pace attack and well-organized dynamic approach on the field has clearly paid dividends. His decisions to put the team's glory ahead of his own rightly proves his abilities as a good leader of a champion side that reigned over cricket for most of the past decade.