Australia’s injured skipper Michael Clarke will join the Wide World of Sports commentary team for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, which also marks the return of former Test captain Bill Lawry.
Clarke, who is recovering from hamstring surgery, will take on the role throughout the third Commonwealth Bank Test against India, providing an unique insight into his teammates and contemporary opponents.
“It’s an absolute thrill to have Michael on board, he joins a long list of Australian Test captains we’ve had in the Wide World of Sports commentary box,” said Brad McNamara, Nine’s executive producer of cricket.
“We’re really looking forward to him joining us and offering his insights on cricketers he plays with and against on a regular basis.”
Clarke is excited about the prospect of joining the commentary team for arguably the biggest event on the Australian sporting calendar.
“I’ll have a very different view of the Boxing Day Test this year,” he wrote in his News Ltd column.
“Channel Nine have kindly asked me to be part of the commentary team for the match, so I’ll be flying down to Melbourne on Christmas Day to join them.
“I’m not sure what to expect. It will certainly be unusual watching the boys from the booth rather than being out there with them on the field.
“Still, it has got to be an improvement on the last Test, which I watched first from a hospital bed and then from my couch.
“I channelled all that restless energy into my Twitter account and, from the sound of it, I filled up quite a few of your news feeds (sorry about that!).
“I’m sure the commentary work in Melbourne will distract me from tweeting too much this time around.”
Lawry, 77, resumes the role that has made him one of cricket’s most famous voices for the Boxing Day Test.
“All the guys are genuinely excited to have Bill back – he is an absolute legend in the world of sports commentary and he’s great fun as well,” McNamara said.
“He brings that unbridled enthusiasm that just can’t be replaced.”
Clarke meanwhile, believes veterans Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Chris Rogers should play next year’s Ashes, despite recent talk about the trio’s form.
The 33-year-old skipper said the three brought “so much more to the table than just their batting” and supplied balance and experience when young players such as debutant Joe Burns entered the side.
“‘Hadds’ mightn’t have made a big impression in the runs column over the past couple of Tests but he has been flawless with the gloves,” Clarke wrote in his News Ltd column.
“And let’s not forget his contributions with the bat last summer. The Ashes series might have played out quite differently without his valuable runs down the order.”
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Clarke said while Watson had not enjoyed the success with the bat he would have hoped for despite promising starts, he had bowled crucial overs in Brisbane and picked up the wicket of Rohit Sharma.
He tipped the allrounder to make a big score in the third Commonwealth Bank Test starting on Boxing Day.
“He brings tremendous balance to the team and, from what the boys are telling me, he’s absolutely creaming them in the nets,” he added.
Meanwhile, Clarke said Rogers’ twin fifties in Brisbane showed the 37-year-old’s class and experience.
“It’s crucial to have experienced guys like these in a team when you’re bringing through youngsters like Joe Burns,” he wrote, before adding that he had cause for optimism on his injured hamstring post-surgery.
“I have been told by medical staff that I am as in as good condition as I can be a week after undergoing the surgery.”