Why has Australia not warmed to Michael Clarke?

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    michael-clarkeAustralian sports fans don’t like to single out precisely which qualities their heroes should possess. We have a rich history of athletes with personalities from every cookie-cutter mould in the cupboard.

    We loved the showmanship and brashness of Shane Warne just as much as we admired the grit and determination of Steve Waugh, and the all-round nice guy qualities of Pat Rafter.

    This begs the question, why has Michael Clarke – as pleasant and genial a sportsman as you are likely to meet – not yet captured the heart of the Australian public and endeared himself to the masses?

    There is no doubting Clarke’s prodigious talent as a cricketer. In the past few years he has emerged as one of our premier batsmen, and the numbers reflect Australia’s growing reliance on Clarke as the rock of the middle order. Having been dropped from the Test side in 2005, he didn’t so much remodel as re-jig the nuances of his game and emerged a better, if less spectacular player.

    Clarke is all but assured of taking over the captaincy of the national side in all forms of the game once Ricky Ponting departs, and as captain of the Twenty20 outfit he has shown himself to be an enthusiastic and capable on-field leader.

    While Clarke goes from strength to strength on the field, his off-field image is lagging by comparison. There is a sense in backyards and bars across Australia that Clarke is too tightly managed and lacks a sense of authenticity. In the past fortnight the conjecture over Clarke’s popularity – or lack thereof – within the Australian cricketing ranks has become a talking point as well.

    It is true that the ability to captain a cricket side does not rest on popularity within that side alone, but the whispers are growing that Clarke is genuinely disliked by several of his teammates, which doesn’t auger well for a future Test captain.

    One can’t help but feel that all is not as it seems with the Test vice-captain.

    Clarke’s problem is this: On the one hand he conveys an everyman appeal – photo shoots playing backyard cricket in his boardies, a keenness to discuss his working class Western Sydney roots, constant talk of the team over the individual.

    On the other hand Clarke’s displays of the good life demonstrate he is very clearly not your average man. His penchant for expensive cars and clothes has been well documented, as was his engagement and subsequent split with model Lara Bingle.

    More Beckham than Boonie, the image that comes across of Clarke is one of a contrived persona too heavily imbued with media savvy. At times when interviewed Clarke sounds more like a politician than cricketer, all buzz words and speech laden with more spin than Warne and Muralitharan combined.

    A torch bearer for the modern paradigm of sportsman he may be, it seems that to avoid being pigeon-holed Clarke has tried to fill every possible mould we might have of what our sports stars should be. In his attempts to cater to the public’s every possible desire of which qualities our heroes should possess, Clarke comes across as none of them.

    Clarke’s skill as a cricketer will ensure he has plenty of years left in the public eye, and no doubt the public’s understanding of him will continue to develop. In the meantime, Clarke should worry less about how he is perceived, put the media training to one side, and let the fullness of his personality come through.

    Till then, sports fans will continue to wonder, “Who is the real Michael Clarke?”

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    The Crowd Says (75)

    • Roar Guru

      November 21st 2010 @ 12:50am
      Hoy said | November 21st 2010 @ 12:50am | ! Report

      I can’t stand him. Mainly because of a few things you have touched on here.

      1) I hate it that he has been annointed since day one as the next captain. I really hate it. Come hell or high water, they wanted to make him captain, whether he was a good one or not. Case in point: Our 20/20 sucks and as for the one dayers, under his leadership, we just lost a series at home to Sri Lanka. I don’t know why you think he is a capable leader.

      2) I hate the media bulldust that comes from his mouth. He is happy in his interviews even after loosing. Case in point: after losing the series to Sri Lanka in the second game, he is interviewed, and says word to the effect of “we just can’t seem to win, any ideas?” Ha, good joke… no wait, that isn’t funny at all. You just lost the first series at home since I can’t remember when. Show some bloody remorse, or something. Not a time to be jovial.

      3) WANTING TO SING THE TEAM SONG EARLY SO HE COULD GO HAVE DINNER WITH BINGLE!!!!

      Those are just a few reasons as to why I can’t stand him.

      • November 21st 2010 @ 10:43am
        Fisher Price said | November 21st 2010 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        Yeah, imagine wanting to spend time with your partner after being at the cricket ground all day, rather than staying in the dressing room until midnight.

        • November 21st 2010 @ 7:27pm
          Tortion said | November 21st 2010 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

          Ever been part of a team?

          • November 22nd 2010 @ 3:55pm
            The Visitor said | November 22nd 2010 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

            Have you ever had a pretty girlfriend?

      • November 21st 2010 @ 12:03pm
        The Visitor said | November 21st 2010 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

        I’d rather have dinner with Lara Bingle sipping Dom Perignon than sing “Khe San’ or whatever passes as the team song nowadays and throwing down copious amounts of XXXX gold or some other mass marketed b grade beer.

        I neither like nor dislike him, it’s a bit hard when you don’t know the guy. I’m guessing that when people say they don’t like him, what they mean is that they don’t like what they PERCEIVE him to be like.

        This is more often than not because of how he is portrayed in the media. So in effect they don’t like him because of the way the media portrays him. Says more about our obsession with celebrity than much else.

        • Roar Pro

          November 22nd 2010 @ 4:01pm
          Hutchoman said | November 22nd 2010 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

          And I’d like a Space Shuttle for Christmas but it just doesn’t work that way. It you want to get paid $2m+ a year to play sport, there are a few things you have to do that “you might not want to do”. Tough luck.

          The great problem with Clarke is the perception that “it’s all about me”. Doesn’t wash with the Australian sporting public. Never has, never will.

          • November 22nd 2010 @ 9:18pm
            The Visitor said | November 22nd 2010 @ 9:18pm | ! Report

            I always thought he got paid to go out and score runs for the team. If he is captain he has to make decisions that hopefully benefit the team.

            Along the way he might inspire some youngsters to pick up a cricket bat, some people will pay to watch him bat either live or on tv.

            He is not paid to be everyones favourite bloke.

    • November 21st 2010 @ 1:12am
      Tortion said | November 21st 2010 @ 1:12am | ! Report

      Bogan with a bat.

    • November 21st 2010 @ 1:15am
      sunshinecoaster said | November 21st 2010 @ 1:15am | ! Report

      I like the guy, he is who he is and makes no excuses for it. I like how he told Andrew Symonds he was carrying on like a cock

      And id much rather go have dinner with bingle than sit in a dressing room with 11 other smelly blokes singing a song anyway

      And as for 2020, i dont really care about it,. but each to there own

    • November 21st 2010 @ 4:28am
      Lolly said | November 21st 2010 @ 4:28am | ! Report

      Agree with Hoy. I resent that he was anointed as captain to be and that CA put his needs before that of an Australian squad in giving him the 20/20 captaincy. And the crowning glory for me was when he said that he found it ‘irritating’ to be losing so many matches, just recently.

      “There is a sense in backyards and bars across Australia that Clarke is too tightly managed and lacks a sense of authenticity.” Just about sums it up. There appears to be no personality to notice at all.

      Once he’s captaining Aus for good, I have a feeling that I won’t care if they win or lose.

      • Roar Pro

        November 22nd 2010 @ 7:46am
        Grimmace said | November 22nd 2010 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        I’m with you Lolly, once he takes over the helm full time my interest leves will drop big time

    • November 21st 2010 @ 4:47am
      Tom said | November 21st 2010 @ 4:47am | ! Report

      Because his form is very poor

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      • November 21st 2010 @ 9:47am
        picasso005 said | November 21st 2010 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        Maybe in 20/ 20’s but his record in one day and to more effect test cricket shows he is one of the best batsman of the last couple of years.. People only seem to remember his bad innings and not his good ones because he just gets the job done and probably isn’t our most exciting cricketer

    • November 21st 2010 @ 6:06am
      Beer O'Clock said | November 21st 2010 @ 6:06am | ! Report

      Because he acted like a David Beckham wannabe. The tattoos, the girlfriend, the hairstyle etc etc.

      Aussies dont like that girlie attitude. He just doesnt come across as tough enough to lead.

      • Roar Pro

        November 22nd 2010 @ 4:04pm
        Hutchoman said | November 22nd 2010 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

        It would be very interesting to see Michael Clarke going toe to toe with big Curtly …

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