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Australia to shape new Test culture: Cowan
By Ben Horne
17:30 AEST Tue Jan 1 2013

Australia's exodus of Test cricket experience has the dressing room prepared for a revamped leadership culture to take shape in 2013.

In a brave new world for the world No.3-ranked side, captain Michael Clarke and coach Mickey Arthur will assume even greater responsibility in a team of greenhorns.

Ricky Ponting has already retired and Mike Hussey will farewell Test cricket after the third Test against Sri Lanka in Sydney starting on Thursday.

No longer will two or three seasoned campaigners be relied on to set the example for the next generation.

Not when only three players outside Clarke have played more than 30 Tests and the vice-captain Shane Watson is an injury liability.

Australia's Ashes fate will depend on the team's foot soldiers stepping up in maturity.

With 12 Tests under his belt, batsman Ed Cowan is one player in the strange position of already being groomed to take on more responsibility.

Cowan said rookie players needed to change the way they think about leadership.

"It's obviously harder for a debutant to come in and rule the roost but it's important everyone is keen to contribute ... that makes you a leader in a sense and that's how cultures are built," said Cowan.

"It's an opportunity for this team to move forward with how they want to be shaped.

"Not by the past, but to have a real crack with a new group shaping a new Australian cricket team.

"If we don't think that's exciting, we've got an issue."

Fast bowler Peter Siddle said he had no designs on official leadership, but was determined to lead by example.

"That's what I've always been good at - showing the younger guys how to go about it," he said.

England cricket's managing director Hugh Morris said the key to their 2010-'11 Ashes success in Australia was the leadership provided by then captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower.

The pair provided a clear vision for players to buy into.

Clarke and Arthur will need to provide a similar clarity in binding the Australians together and making them encouraged rather than panicked by the loss of Ponting and Hussey.

Cowan said it was imperative the team put faith in Clarke's ability to lead from the front.

"We're inspired by the way the captain performs. We're inspired by the way he goes about his business and gives himself to the group," he said.

"He's the guy that we'll continue to look to ... I think you'll see a whole group of merry men following."

The lack of leadership and experience within the playing squad means the role played by the support team of coaches and mentors will take on even-greater importance for the huge tours ahead in India and the UK.

Clarke has introduced a mentor system this summer, with greats like Matt Hayden, Allan Border and Adam Gilchrist joining the team at various stages.

In Sydney, Alan Davidson, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh will spend time with the players.

Having mentors flown in to join the team in India and England might not be so easy, but a strong and experienced background staff will be crucial.

In team news, Clarke (hamstring) trained on Tuesday and is considered a near certainty for the SCG Test.

Siddle said he didn't expect to be rotated from the bowling line-up, with Jackson Bird likely to make way for Mitchell Starc.


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