We have two major announcements to discuss, the first being the appointment of Michael John Clarke as the new Skipper of Australian cricket in Test and ODI cricket, with Shane Watson alongside as his deputy, while we also have the Bangladesh touring Squad on paper.
First off, here's the Squad and my chirps.
BANGLADESH TOURING SQUAD FOR THE 3 ODIs:
Michael Clarke (Captain),
Shane Watson (Vice-Captain),
Brad Haddin (Wk),
Tim Paine (reserve Wk),
The news is Ricky Ponting has been included in the side.
In all honesty, I was hoping he would just focus on Test cricket after standing down after that brilliant century in the Quarter final, but I reckon a closure on a masterclass limited overs career will happen on Australian soil. He deserves the best exit when it comes.
So, Punter is in the side and where he will be posted, we'll wait and see. It will be a refreshing change for him and this is a good start for Punter for the final chapter.
The major inclusions to note are those of Xavier Doherty and James Pattinson.
Xavier comes in for Jason Krejza, who tried his best at the World Cup given he wasn't on the drawing board for considered spinners but injury opened a door. Xavier is back in the mix after a solid debut against the Poms, so he deserves a chance and best yet is that can see him toil on a sub-continent track.
James comes in for Shaun Tait, who has retired from ODI cricket following our World Cup exit. I have my reserved opinions on this but as I mentioned on Twitter, best wishes to Taito on his Twenty20 endeavours and I genuinely hope he gets the reward he is looking for in the shorter form of the game.
I would have liked to have seen Mitchell Starc given the call-up or Peter Siddle, but James has his opportunity to add some more games to his Green & Gold stats.
Brett Lee is playing on and I reckon that because he is just a limited overs specialist, he will try keep marching on to chase that 400th wicket (65 to go) and see things through come a home summer. Binga was a total and utter Champ for us at the World Cup and it was just totally epic to see the speed demon take a smart, mature approach to his game which he has managed to fine tune in Twenty20 cricket. I am very happy he's hanging around to not only chase his personal goals, but also be there to mentor the younger bowlers, who should begin to get streamlined...I hope.
Tim Paine is in the side to make the trip as his duties being Hads' understudy continues.
I strongly believe that Callum Ferguson deserves an opportunity. Yes, he State performances were so so, but he has always played with courage and delivered the goods with the bat for the Green & Gold on many occassions. He's our next best alternative to Hussey/Bevan like role and I hope to see him adding more runs to the total!
Cameron White was in worrying form at the World Cup and his understandable value on his day is what kept him in the team. The performances may have given Fergal the edge to get a go in the starting XI (I hope at number 4 or 5), while Cam needs to just regain that aura about him. He has the ability as we saw when he made his maiden ODI century filling in for Punter at the number three role, but perhaps it'd be fair to give Fergal an opportunity after just scratching about on the sidelines during the World Cup.
John Hastings in a similar boat and we'll see if Steven Smith gets a place in a starting XI, as the batting stocks are decent and the front line spinner is Xavier.
Sadly, I see James "Catfish" Hopes has fallen out of the system, which is a pity as he played very good cricket for the Bulls this season.
David Hussey is not available as he will present when his first child enters the world. Congrats Dussey, fantastic news mate.
This side has decent balance, a fair blend of experience and youth so let's see how well the blend goes come the starting XI and of course the three matches against Bangladesh. I'm hoping for three solid wins to kick start this next chapter strongly!
THE CAPTAINCY SWITCH:
Regarding my last article on Ricky Ponting, I briefly stated my opinion regarding his Captaincy future. I didn't want Punter to hang up his Baggy Green cap, but the only way I saw things going forward for him - and what's best for the team - was for for him to dig deep and have the honour to step down as Captain. It's been a marvellous spell as Captain, he's had longevity and importantly there were so many high's to take note of.
Forget the obvious factors the media have pointed out so many times and rather focus on the way he led the side to 16 consecutive test match wins to tie with his former Skipper, Steve Waugh.
How about leading the side to two World Cup wins where he contributed valuably, as well as an Ashes series win of 5-0, where he had a staggering season with the bat?
Remember those moments and all the games we won where he also contributed? He took on the greatest side in world cricket and was affected by sudden retirements all at once.
He stayed strong and took on a massive group of unknowns amongst some shaky seniors. The results haven't great, but he tried his utmost best and did his duty.
The time was right to call it a day and hand over the Captaincy. Punter has fewer responsibilities now and can focus on his batting, while still having an impact from a leadership aspect.
Michael Clarke is not the public favourite, but he is there so let's support him. He needs the support when he takes to the field as the official Skipper and his recent turnaround in form has been a massive relief. A few good knocks in the Test arena will boost his credibility and perhaps some attitude will go a long way as well.
I am convinced his "fastlane" lifestyle was never that big of an issue until the Lara Bingle public affair began.
It spiralled out of control to a point where he was coming across like one of those pathetic football/soccer girls in Europe, and that unquestionably made a huge dent in the way the cricketing and general public respected him. That is where it escalated.
It does happen but even though it came to an end, and it would have hurt the man deeply as it would to any man, he picked himself up after a brief period to clear his mind and worked hard to try maintain a good image and show his focus to mature as both a cricketer and a person. That deserves respect in my eyes.
Michael is a sharp tactician and an aggressive strategist, as we have seen with his management regarding his bowlers in limited overs cricket and the way he takes risks to win with wise fielding placements, from what I've assessed.
He has a good mate to guide him - Shane Warne - and with some experience in the team ranks and a bloke who knows his cricket, he can do the job on the field. Now that he has the nod for Test captaincy as well, it will be the start of that role for him to hit the ground running as far as focus and a confident mindset go.
For Michael it will be very much about self-confidence and the ability to quickly learn to lead from the front I'd imagine. He'll know to back his players but also not be afraid to be opinionated when confronting the media and being a bit closed off come "pleasantries" with the opposition sides.
We need some attitude, we need some antics that will make us know we got a tough bastard out there who will back himself in a strong manner both on and off the field.
It begins now, let's support him as his capabilities get revealed.
Shane Watson is a fair replacement. Hussey and Katich are in the golden days now, while Brad Haddin's still an active senior involved in the game in the moment, but not right with career span to take on the role in all forms of the game.
Watto has plenty left in him and being an established and focused player in all forms of the game, he is right for the job.
Everyone has an opinion, I obviously have had to really get my mindset right to embrace Michael as the Skipper given how much I admire and respect Punter, but the whole system is refreshing.
It's time for selection policies to be strong, consistent and hopefully Cricket Australia can facilitate these changes so we don't end up as the second Windies, although I know this wouldn't happen...I'd hope as supporters of the Baggy Green we'd never let they day happen!
Best of luck to Michael and Watto, and furthermore well done Punter on making a massive decision. The time of change begins, as the brief Ponting era closes and the era of Rebirth begins for Australian cricket.
We are all a part of this history. Embrace it, be excited about, accept the rollercoaster ride ahead and never lose your pride in the Baggy Green!
Good luck to the Green & Gold for the Bangladesh tour. The 2015 development has begun!
Michael Clarke and Shane Watson pose at the SCG. These are the men that will have to be the leaders of the Rebirth for Australian cricket. Wish them luck and support them.
© Associated Press
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