Australia captain Michael Clarke wants to ensure that a professed image of him being a ruthless leader isn't created. But, he dropped some signs of that on Day Four of the fourth and final Test match against India here at the Adelaide Oval yesterday.
When Australia's lead was already 498, Brad Haddin had just prodded with a dead bat for five balls in succession off R Ashwin. In the final ball of the over, Haddin managed just a single off a low full toss. Instantly, an angry Clarke, seated next to batting coach Justin Langer in the dressing room, started yelling at Haddin, asking him to get on with the job.
He got up and immediately declared. The cameras caught Langer and Co turning their heads to find Clarke storming out of their space.
Later, when Rahul Dravid was caught at gully off Ryan Harris, Clarke took offence to umpire Kumar Dharmasena asking the India batsman to wait, as the large screen read "checking for foot fault no-ball". Clarke didn't refrain from letting the umpire know what he thought of the halt in action. Finally, when stumps were drawing close, Clarke gave off-spinner Nathan Lyon nine close-in catchers, not just to the tail-enders, and two, when India lost their sixth wicket, Clarke was in the umpire's ear, checking if there was a provision for play to be extended.
Clarke is ruthless.
"I am bloody impressed. He's getting better by the day," Ian Chappell, the great Australian captain who never lost a Test series, said in a passing remark about Clarke's captaincy.
Lyon, who dismissed Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag, said he enjoys playing under Clarke. "Pup and I are working together well with some plans. To have that many fielders around the bat is something I've never done before. It didn't work as we hoped (today) but we'll give it a crack another time hopefully," the local lad said after India drew stumps on 166-6 yesterday. When asked if he enjoyed getting Tendulkar's wicket, there was a touch of sarcasm in Lyon's tone, "It has been an absolute privilege to get him out," he said.
Lyon said he 'enjoyed' getting Sehwag out with a full toss. "It probably wasn't my best ball. I'm not going to call him back, that's for sure. Ricky Ponting came up to me just before that ball and said 'do him in the air' so I was pretty happy with it," he said. Prior to the Perth Test, veteran batsman Michael Hussey lauded Clarke's captaincy. "He's always trying to make things happen -- he wants the game to go forward all the time," Hussey said.