The good news for Michael Clarke is he’s not the only Australian cricket captain to endure a lengthy form slump.
The bad news? He’s only halfway through it, if the history of recent captains is any guide.
While Clarke admits his batting in Australia’s disastrous series loss to Pakistan – in which the skipper scored 2, 3, 47 and 5 – was “unacceptable”, he’s been below par for almost a year.
Boasting a career average above 50 – the unofficial measure of an all-time great – Clarke has managed just 27.46 over his last 16 digs.
Take out his heroic 161 not out against South Africa in Cape Town in March and Clarke has only once topped more than 25 since cracking successive centuries against England last summer.
In his defence, he has battled chronic back and hamstring injuries and Australia’s last five Tests have been in South Africa and the Middle East.
Clarke can take heart from the fact that Australia’s three Test captains before him also experienced rough trots before emerging from the mire to score freely again.
But worryingly, the batting woes that Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting endured all lasted about twice as long as Clarke’s current slump.
Taylor’s troubles stretched over 15 Tests and almost two years during which the opener averaged just 20 runs and went 21 consecutive innings without posting a 50.
Even after making 129 in the first Ashes Test in England in 1997, Taylor then went for 1, 2, 1 and 0 in his next four innings.
But there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Taylor struck 112 in his very first match after the Ashes – against New Zealand in the opening Test of the summer at the Gabba – before he famously declared on Sir Donald Bradman’s 334 not out against Pakistan the following year in Peshewar.
Waugh’s lean trot wasn’t as bad as Taylor’s, just more erratic.
Also finishing his career with a superb average above 50, Waugh managed only 29.31 for 23 innings from November 2001 until December the following year.
He still hit one century and four half-centuries, but Waugh’s run of outs included four uncharacteristic ducks.
After breaking the shackles with a magical 102 versus England at the SCG in the opening Test of 2003, Waugh notched three more tons in his next seven innings before retiring after scoring 40 and 80 in his farewell appearance in Sydney the following summer.
Ponting went 33 innings without a hundred – the longest drought of his 17-year career – and averaged only 27 during his 21-month slump.
Like Taylor’s and Waugh’s, Ponting’s dry run came in the twilight of his career.
But he bounced back with successive half-centuries in the 2011 Boxing Day Test against India, then scored 134 and 221 the following month before retiring later that year with a grand average of 51.85.
THE SKIPPERS’ SLUMPS
Career Runs: 7525
Career Ave: 43.49
Matches: 15 (Dec 1995 to Aug 1997)
Innings: 26 (1 not out)
Career Runs: 10,927
Career Ave: 51.06
Matches: 16 (Nov 2001 to Dec 2002)
Innings: 23 (1 not out)
Career Runs: 13,378
Career Ave: 51.85
Matches: 15 (March 2010 to Dec 2011)
Innings: 29 (1 not out)
Career Runs: 8297
Career Ave: 50.59
Matches: 8 (Dec 2013 to Nov 2014)
Innings: 16 (3 not outs)