When Australia and England take to the field in the third Ashes Test at Perth both
captains will be celebrating their 100th Test match appearance.
However, neither captain will be dwelling on their milestones as they do battle in a match that could determine the outcome of The Ashes this series.
Both sides know victory is vital, England need to keep the series alive with a draw or victory in Perth and Australia know that a victory for them will mean they regain The Ashes with two games still to play.
Alistair Cook and Michael Clarke could not be anymore different in their styles if they tried.
Cook is the stereotypical fresh-faced Englishman who fits the bill perfectly as an England captain. He leads from the front with his performances, although these have been sadly lacking recently.
Clarke, however, epitomises Australia with a brashness that does not appeal to everyone but is undoubtedly getting results at present. Clarke is not unanimously liked in cricketing circles but he is respected and regarded as one of the best batsmen in the world. Their contrasting styles make The Ashes even more compelling than normal.
Both players have very similar records in their 100 tests and are undoubtedly the target of opposition bowlers as one of the main batsmen in their respective sides. Both are closing in on 8,000 test match runs having achieved a similar amount of centuries (Clarke 26, Cook 25). Their conversion rates are excellent and both will be looking to become the leading run scorers for their respective countries before their careers come to a close.
Clarke currently holds a Test batting average of over 50 with Cook averaging around 47. Cook and Clarke also share a desire to score big hundreds, Cook's highest score is 294 with Clarke hitting a high 329no.
With Cook four years younger than Clarke I fully expect him to be playing Test cricket for a few more years should he regain form after this recent slump. He could go on to break many more batting and appearance records.
There is no doubt that Cook is under severe scrutiny for both his batting and captaincy this series and Clarke is close to his best form after consecutive Ashes centuries and victories.
However, Cook has had the upper hand in Ashes battles between the pair in the past. As captain Cook has achieved three Ashes series victories and Clarke just one. Cook also has a superior record as captain of his country. In 19 Tests Cook has won 9 and lost only 3. Clarke has captained Australia 31 times, winning 14 and losing 10.
Cook and Clarke are entering the Perth Test match with differing agendas. Cook needs to re-build the confidence of his fragile team like never before but Clarke is captaining a side full of confidence and bravado.
Both to a certain extent are encountering new experiences in their captaincy careers. The future at present looks rosy for Clarke but cricket has a habit of turning fortunes around very
quickly and I am sure Cook will be working hard to spoil his counterparts landmark game.
What is certain is that both players will be hoping that their One hundredth Test
match is one to remember for all the right reasons.
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