EVER since Michael Clarke was handed the leadership baton, it seemed that Pup was on a recruitment drive.

A campaign to convince the many knockers that this ”young punk” surely can be man to hold what many believe to be the most important job in this country.

To fight off the opinion that the young man who has sported the peroxide look, worn the ear rings, driven the fast cars and had the supermodel companions surely couldn’t follow in the footsteps of street fighters like Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor.

But after a breathtaking triple century, Clarke’s once empty bandwagon is now overflowing.

His demolition of India in Sydney was sublime to say the least, and exemplified leadership at its very best.

Shots all around the wicket, with a level of confidence and timing rarely seen from his unsponsored blade.

I didn’t think I would ever be more impressed with a Michael Clarke knock than his 151 against South Africa in Cape Town in November.

That was a gutsy, brave knock that ensured his side complied a respectable total.

There are comparisons to both those knocks, with Australia 3-37 when he came to crease (3-40 at Cape Town), but this innings soon changed from a dog-fight to a master class.

The other major argument against Clarke becoming our new leader was at the time he was barely demanding a place in the team.

His unbeaten 329 was his fourth Test ton since taking charge, in comparison to none in the 12 months leading up.

Combined with his cleverness in the field placements and with bowling changes, it’s nothing but a big tick for the 30-year-old.

And the cherry on top of our new-found love for Clarke is his unselfish decision to call time on his innings.

Even with the forecast of rain today, he could have batted on until deep into final session and had a crack at the magical 400, but put the team first.

But like any relationship, one event could easily end this bout of ”Puppy Love”.

A disastrous Ashes campaign, even if Clarke himself stands up with the bat, is all that it will take to get people off-side again.

As impressive as this current form is, it is against an Indian team which suffers from major cases of homesickness.

England are still the benchmark, and even with the likes of James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Mitch Marsh, Nathan Lyon and Usman Khawaja there is hope, but there’s still a lot of work needed to done before 2013 rolls around.

Losses to New Zealand and an inability to pass 50 against South Africa to close 2011 is evidence of that.

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