Cricket great overlooks Aussie legends in captain debate

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell has controversially picked Michael Clarke as the best Australian captain of the 21st century. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Australian cricketing great Ian Chappell has picked Michael Clarke as his choice for the best Australian Test captain of the last 10 years, controversially overlooking several big names.

Chappell, himself the Australian captain for 30 Test matches, picked Clarke as the best Australian captain of the 21st century ahead of the likes of Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Steve Smith.

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Clarke captained Australia in 47 Test matches, winning 24 of those and becoming one of just three captains, alongside Waugh and Ponting, to lead Australia to a 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

The historical captaincy debate was raised after debate erupted over current captain Tim Paine’s decision-making on day four of the deciding fourth Test against India.

With the Border-Gavaskar trophy on the line, Paine has come under fire for waiting too long to declare during Australia’s second innings, and allowing Indian tail-enders Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur to bolster the visitors’ first innings total on day three.

While Paine’s 27 matches as Test captain have yielded mixed results to say the least, Chappell said it was difficult to criticise him too much.

“He had by far the most difficult job of those captains we’re comparing him to and I think he’s handling it pretty well,” Chappell told Wide World of Sports.

“Captaincy is a very subjective thing. Everyone’s got their own idea on how you’re supposed to captain a side.

“I think his captaincy overall has been very good.”

Ian Chappell backs Michael Clarke as best Aussie captain

Clarke’s winning percentage of 51.06% eclipses only Paine’s 47.82 rate, with Ponting, Waugh and Smith all boasting a higher win-rate.

However Chappell said it was the aggressive approach Clarke brought to the job that more often than not put the Australian team in a position to win – a point on his favour, even if the execution was sometimes lacking.

Michael Clarke won just over half the Test matches he captained Australia in.  (Photo by Hanna Lassen/Getty Images)
Michael Clarke won just over half the Test matches he captained Australia in. (Photo by Hanna Lassen/Getty Images)

“I think Clarke was tactically the best of them and by quite a margin. He was trying to win the game from ball number one,” Chappell said.

“I think that’s important in captaincy and he was a very imaginative captain. He didn’t run out of ideas.

“I even thought he was equal with Mark Taylor.”

Australia began play on Tuesday at the Gabba seeking 10 wickets for a Test and series victory over India, who need 328 for victory but would retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a draw.

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