Testing times for AB and C

... unless Australia win at Old Trafford and South Africa do themselves some good in the T20s.



I love the game as much now as I ever have that's for sure. I have no intention to walk away from this game right now - Michael Clarke
 
One is desperately looking to avoid being only the second Aussie captain to lose seven Tests in a row, while the other is trying to salvage some pride in the three Twenty20 Internationals after being routed 4-1 in the just-concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka.
 
The men in the spotlight are AB de Villiers and Michael Clarke - and both are being done in by some quality cricket by their opponents, as well as transition and injuries.
 
South Africa, without the services of premier fast bowler Dale Steyn, leading all-rounder Jacques Kallis and former ODI captain Graeme Smith, never looked comfortable against Lankan spinners, apart from that one match in Pallekele where David Miller's robust innings helped his team end their 11-match losing streak in on Sri Lankan soil.
 
Australia's batting/man-management on the other hand has been in a parlous state of affairs in this year's Ashes.
 
A hallmark of any good team is the wealth of experience and talent at their disposal. These two teams are in their transitional phase and the only possible reason for their ordinary display on the field is that they haven't been afforded the luxury of an easy changeover.
 
Fighting in different formats of the game, de Villiers and Clarke share the same plight leading a beleaguered national cause. Clarke began emphatically winning nine of his first 13 as captain while AB, the more obvious future star - still new to leadership - has shown himself a gallant and intuitive tactician. It is not in their DNA to give up.
 
Did somebody say choke? Never mind!
 
After all these years, the Proteas still remain under scrutiny to excel under pressure, an area in which Russell Domingo and company will have to step in and lighten the skipper's load.
 
Clarke has been with the best and 'probably' the worst of the Australian juggernaut. 'Pup' was there when Australian went on a 16-win spree between 2005 and 2008. He is now winless in six successive Tests, one short of Australia's worst losing streak and flush on an equally humiliating run in 1984.

But all is not lost, maintains the defiant Clarke.
 
"I want to help this team have success. I want to make sure I'm leading the way and scoring runs and I'm 32 and not 36, so luckily I've got a few years before I have that discussion," he said before the all-important Third Test at Manchester.
 
Australia unfortunately presently lacks the likes of Alastair Cooks or Jonathan Trotts who are willing to stay and wear out the bowlers so the lower order can go on a rampage. In the current set up, only Clarke seems to be willing to hang in there.
 
Amid all the turmoil and questions about his leadership, Clarke was a picture of tranquility at Old Trafford on the opening day - batting to save the series not his position. As for AB, there is no need to panic just as yet. However his less-experienced troops will have to slug it out properly for a cause.
 
Note: When the team is failing, captain's failures just gets highlighted. It is an unusual phenomenon hard to explain.


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