The Ashes Diary
Author: Michael Clarke
Rating: 3 stars
By Archie Mac
15 Feb 2014
The Australian Captain's Diary has been a staple for a number of seasons. First Steve Waugh, then Ricky Ponting and now Michael Clarke, who seems to have changed the formula. Instead of covering a year like Ponting or a couple of series a la Waugh he has only focused on just one series. The Ashes of 2013 was the second full series in which Clarke was in charge.
Clarke can be forgiven, given the Australian performance, for not writing about the Indian tour which preceded the Ashes and saw the Aussies, despite winning all four tosses, fail to win a Test. Unfortunately in the Ashes series the Australian team again failed to win a Test.
This lack of success and the personal hurt it causes Michael Clarke are what lifts this book above the average tour diary. Written at the end of each day's play, his feelings are raw when his team is struggling and because of the final score line, the irony of his forlorn hopes make for gut wrenching reading (well for an Aussie fan who went to England only for Clarke and his boys to not win a Test).
In the end though, this book disappoints as most tour diaries do, when written before the player retires. This series in particular featured some potentially destabilising controversies. From the sacking of the Australian coach just prior to the first Test, to opener David Warner assaulting Joe Root. Throw in the DRS controversies and the incessant sledging and this should have been a tour diary to savour, especially when written by the participants who above all others would know all about the ins and outs.
Clarke starts his responses to the crises head on, making it clear he was not in favour of Mickey Arthur's sacking. However that is the only time when he does not toe the party line. When Arthur brings up the attitude of Shane Watson in India, Clarke writes like a politician, minimising, informing it is old news and there is no longer an issue. Most would believe him, but here was a chance to divulge what happened and what was wrong with Watson's attitude.
The same goes for the Warner and Root incident. We find out, not surprisingly, that Clarke was disappointed. Another opportunity to explain the exact circumstances is missed. Even some insight to what is said between the players on the field is left on the field, which is the way Clarke plays his cricket and may even be enviable. Not so sure it is enviable when reading a book about a tour, which was telecast live and dissected ad nauseam by the media.
Clarke at least sheds light on why he didn't declare or why he kept his slow bowlers on in certain situations. Perhaps he will feel more confident in his next tour diary. Based on his first, most pundits will give him the benefit of the doubt; after all he was not far off a winner with his first foray.