Michael Clarke and Ian Bell. Two munchkin-faced, thimble-sized men who’ve made knowledgeable cricket folk go all quivery with their batsmanship. They’re much the same age and apparently both have “natural talent” instead of a skeleton.
However, one’s dithering along the same as he always has done, while the other’s a cussed run machine. No prizes for guessing which one’s which – not because it’s easy, but because we never have prizes.
Michael Clarke’s career can be neatly split in two. His first 22 matches defines a period of Ian Bell ditheration, where he played some blinding innings and got himself out a fair few times. In the next 22 matches, he averages 63.3.
Clarke’s not as much fun to watch any more and he’s turned into a bit of a holier-than-thou puritan, but you’d want him in the side. He’s now hit a hundred in each of his last seven series following the relatively sluggish 138 he made over the weekend.
Michael Clarke’s taken the same approach as Gautam Gambhir. He’s an attacking batsman who doesn’t feel he HAS to attack. Those are always the best batsmen. They’ve got range.