It was a shame to see Australian cricket captain, Michael Clarke miss most of the final day of the first test match against India recently, especially since it was a dramatic final day with the game hanging in the balance. Clarke tore a hamstring whilst fielding and left the ground in the morning session.
It was particularly disappointing given the extremely difficult past few weeks everyone in Australian cricket has experienced following the tragic death of cricketer Phillip Hughes. Hughes died from a freakish accident after being hit in the neck by a bouncer whilst playing his beloved game. The impact of his death is widespread with not just the cricket community feeling the loss, but most Australians and many others around the world too.
Michael Clarke has done himself, Cricket Australia and Phillip Hughes’s family proud in the way he has conducted himself and led by example since that terrible day. As leaders do during tough times, Clarke has stepped up and shown us all how to behave during such a difficult time.
Not only did he face the media an hour after Hughes died to announce the death of his “little brother” but he gave an emotional eulogy at his funeral. Then within two weeks he was back out on the field captaining his country against India in the first test and despite retiring hurt whilst batting on the first day with a suspected back problem, he returned to the wicket on the second day and scored a remarkable century in honour of Hughes.
Many business leaders, motivational speakers and trainers speak of leading by example and this is exactly what Michael Clarke has done recently.
Clarke’s injury was further realised on the fifth and final day of the match, when he bent down to field a ball and badly tore his hamstring. He clearly came into the match carrying an injury and shouldn’t have played. Yet, given the circumstances of the previous fortnight, he was determined to show support to Hughes’s family and take the first steps in the healing process by getting out onto the field and doing what he does best… playing cricket.
Leaders need support
With Clarke out of the game and the result hanging in the balance, someone needed to step up and fill the void. Enter, Brad Haddin. The vice captain held his nerve for the remainder of the day and kept faith with Nathan Lyon who bowled Australia to victory. Former Australian spin bowler, Stuart MacGill has since endorsed Haddin’s stand-in captaincy. “I think it’s great for Australia that he [Haddin] was the stand-in yesterday… You need some old heads and ‘Hadds’ has certainly been around,” MacGill said.
Other notable acts of support during the entertaining five day contest included David Warner’s twin centuries in each innings and a two magnificent unbeaten innings of 52 and 162 respectively by Steve Smith.
With Clarke out of the side for the remainder of the test series, these three players each gave a strong case for the captaincy. The Australian selectors had a tough decision to make and they chose Steve Smith. Being in such a rich vein of form with the bat and having captaincy experience with NSW, Smith is a choice for the future and a show of faith from the selectors.
What a great problem to have. The selectors knew they had several players who were capable, in form and ready to step up and lead.
But not only has Clarke been supported by his teammates. The Australian coach Darren Lehmann experienced his own personal tragedy when good mate David “Hooksey” Hookes died after being punched by a hotel bouncer ten years ago when they were out having a drink together. In a recent interview Lehmann reflected on Hookes death saying “it gave me a better perspective on life, to be perfectly honest. I mean, we’re only playing a game. At the end of the day, we are only playing a game.” There’s no doubt Lehmann will have supported his captain during this difficult time.
With four test matches in the series remaining, Australia has no shortage of leaders ready to step up in the absence of their leader. Company boards would love to have the same luxury!
Ben Walsh – General Manager; Recruitment