All aboard the Michael Clarke bandwagon

Michael Filosi Roar Guru

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    Score a truckload of runs, lead with imagination, win a World Cup, stand tall in the wake of a mate's death... Yeah, Michael Clarke was a terrible captain. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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    In the clamour to celebrate a good thing, it can be easy to forget the past. Just twelve months ago, Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke’s detractors were many.

    Following his epic triple century against India in the Second Test, his critics have been left to mumble any lingering misgivings about the Australian captain quietly to themselves.

    Clarke has given them 329 reasons to get off his case.

    If Clarke’s popularity was a stock on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX:PUP), his scrip has risen from out of favour small-cap struggler to blue chip must-have in the space of a year.

    It has not just been the weight of runs or the crucial wicket of Sachin Tendulkar secured off his bowling which have lead to this turnaround in public sentiment. Since taking on the captaincy of the side from Ricky Ponting a year ago, Clarke has flourished as leader.

    Pup is clearly suited to being the top dog.

    I had found Clarke a little difficult to warm to at times, but felt that the bad press he had been subjected to was excessive.

    Sure, Clarke has always been more Beckham than Boonie, and comes from a different mould to the bulk of Australian cricketers who have gone before him, but so what?

    Clarke-knocking seemed like a classic case of tall poppy syndrome to my eye.

    The fact that Clarke was earmarked as a future Australian captain soon after he burst onto the international scene rankled with a lot of people, his teammates included. Clarke is an intelligent man – he must have known he was on a good thing and made sure he kept his nose clean so as not to damage his chances of taking over the captaincy.

    Being labelled the cricket establishment’s golden-haired boy was not of his doing, and if anything this has made his life more difficult.

    Clarke’s off-field life has not been uneventful, enduring the media fodder of his break-up with Lara Bingle and the famed run-in with Simon Katich in the SCG change rooms.

    I sensed that during the Bingle and Katich sagas, Clarke’s detractors were waiting for a crack to show in his outward veneer of composure, hoping that he would lash out at the media’s keen interest in his life.

    Clarke handled both these events with dignity and poise.

    Prior to assuming the captaincy, Clarke’s responses at press conferences were at times a little bland and clichéd, most likely because he saw the carrot of what might lie ahead. Clarke was keen to not rock the boat and damage his chances of higher honours by an errant slip of the tongue.

    For most players, being given the captaincy of a side adds an extra burden, but for Clarke the reverse seems true.

    Since Clarke took over the captaincy of the national side from Ricky Ponting, a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. He is no longer burdened by having to tread ever-gently for fear of ruining his chances of inheriting the captaincy.

    Clarke appears at ease, and is now free to be forthright with the media and his players in a way that was lacking previously.

    Clarke is forever smiling and clapping on his teammates on-field, and is a natural leader if ever there was one. Clarke has also bought a calm head and tactical nous to the position of captain that was lacking in his predecessor.

    Twelve months ago it seemed that Clarke was destined to follow in the footsteps of Lleyton Hewitt, a sportsman who would give his all for his country, but never quite capture the hearts of the Australian public.

    Unlike his mentor Shane Warne, Clarke is not yet a card-carrying member of The Pantheon of Good Aussie Sporting Blokes, admired and revered wherever he goes.

    Throughout his career Clarke has refused to buy into media speculation on why he has not captured the hearts of the Australian public. However, if Clarke’s upward trajectory of the past twelve months is anything to go by, he may no longer have to worry about this line of questioning for much longer.

    You can follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelFilosi

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    The Crowd Says (47)

    • January 9th 2012 @ 7:01am
      Amused said | January 9th 2012 @ 7:01am | ! Report

      Respect for one performance in a test does not equal respect for him as a captain or person yet, sad much as CA or certain segments of the media would love…the australian public may be a little more sophisticated than some people give them credit for….at least he’s not referring to himself in the third person anymore…he has to earn our respect which even he has stated….one swallow does not make a summer etc

      • January 9th 2012 @ 7:54am
        Vas Venkatramani said | January 9th 2012 @ 7:54am | ! Report

        I’m wondering what he has done to ever lose respect. Is it the fact he was given a favouritism by the people around him, whether or not it was justified?

        If you ignore all the media and any hype, his job has been to score runs, and he has done so very well since the start of his international career in January 2003. Add to that some crucial wickets and some superb fielding, he’s been a valuable cricketer.

        But I still don’t understand what crime the guy has committed that makes people dislike him the way they do. He’s cliched? Yeah, well, welcome to the real world. Guys like Hodge and Katich can say what they think, and look at where they’re plying their trade. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but that’s what it is.

        End of the day, he is an employee of Cricket Australia, and he definitely won’t be overtly looking to bite the hand that feeds him. That’s the job of the media and smalltime writers like us.

        So, he’s been a good batsman, a handy bowler and a superb fielder. What else is there to hate? The fact seemingly attractive (still don’t get the fascination over Bingle) women like him, and that he has multimillion dollar endorsements that enable his dreams of tattoos and fast cars to come true?

        Hating him over that implies that we’d be more frugal with our earnings if we had as much. Given what credit card debt is like these days, I highly doubt that.

        And so what else? He was earmarked for the Test captaincy before he played a Test? Well, so far, the guy who thought that is looking like Einstein at the moment, for Clarke has done an excellent job so far with the c next to his name.

        End of the day, the public’s dislike of Michael Clarke says more about them than it does about Michael Clarke.

        Clarke’s done his job well, he’s personable to the media, spends a lot of time signing autographs and playing Milo Cricket with kids. I can think of worse role models in society, such as the womanising Shane Warne or the dummyspitting Glenn McGrath.

        Maybe it’s us that really need the headcheck and not Clarke? Just saying…

        • January 9th 2012 @ 8:20am
          travez said | January 9th 2012 @ 8:20am | ! Report


        • January 9th 2012 @ 8:46am
          Chris said | January 9th 2012 @ 8:46am | ! Report

          Exactly. As far as I can see, the one major crime he seems to have committed is being annointed as future captain very early in his career. But he can’t be blamed for that in the slightest. And in fact, his captaincy abilities have proven the selectors knew what they were talking about. I’m the first to throw brickbats at them for (what I think are) selection blunders, but I have to give them kudos when they get it right.

        • January 9th 2012 @ 9:15am
          Matt F said | January 9th 2012 @ 9:15am | ! Report

          Thanks Vas. You’ve saved me the trouble of having to write out a long post as you’ve covered it well! I don’t get how Warne is an icon and yet Clarke is basically a pariah to some people.

          • January 9th 2012 @ 1:49pm
            Big Steve said | January 9th 2012 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

            Matt F, i think its cause more people can relate to Warnie than Clarke. Are there more people in the country that struggle with weight drink beer and eat beans have crappy hair cuts and are loud mouths or are there more who are skinny, well dressed drive expensive cars (and are seen in them) have famous girl friends and use significant amounts of hair product?

            it was great to see clarke get such a massive score. Will he ever be a great batsmen probably not, but he is a very good one. Will he be a great catain, maybe maybe not but he has already shown he is a very good one. Results will play a part in how is captaincy is viewed, and that will depend alot on injuries it seams.

            I dont know what it is but I just don’t have any feeling towards him either way. ponting, Hayden Gilly I always wanted to watch play cause they made the game exciting, clarke doesnt do that for me. Guys like Border, S Waugh and Hussey who seem to bleed for the team and inspire you but clarke doesnt do that for me either.

            I think his “Brand Development” and constant media and marketing attention has given him the appreance of bieng a cricketing great cause he is everywhere. But in reality he is maybe more just a very good cricketer and in 20 years time he wont be mentioned with the others cause he didnt dominate attacks or fight for everything.

            I dont think people respect him cause he has been placed to high and talking about yourself in the third person doesnt help.

            • January 9th 2012 @ 2:33pm
              Matt F said | January 9th 2012 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

              Skinny, well dressed, expensive cars, hair product and famous girlfriends? You sure you’re not talking about Warnie???? OK so the skinny one is very recent but still…..

              If we’re going to talk about personal lives then Warne has done much worse things then Clarke ever has.

              • January 9th 2012 @ 3:13pm
                Big Steve said | January 9th 2012 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

                i meant warne when he started and i meant he’s a bogon and maybe there are alot who read the telegraph and follow cricket ( but i didnt want to say that). Everyone loves Warnie and its part of his charm where clarke does anything he gets hammered. i was just trying to think of reasons why.

              • January 9th 2012 @ 3:31pm
                Matt F said | January 9th 2012 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

                Ah, I get you now. Fair call about the telegraph readership really!

        • January 9th 2012 @ 1:03pm
          Australian Rules said | January 9th 2012 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

          Vas, your post expresses my own views exactly.

          The snide “one swallow does not make a summer” comment above, is typical is so many Australian responses towards Clarke…that even when he does something (very) right, he still gets only reserved applause.

          Clarke is considered by other cricketers to be very tactically astute, and his declaration at the SCG showed that he is focssed purely on team glory rather than personal. These traits, along with his batting, make him a very suitable Captain. People forget that in the losing 2009 Ashes Series in England, Clarke was Australia’s best batsman, averaging 64.00. When he went through the break up with his fiance 2 years ago, he returned to NZ and scored a century. In 2010 he was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year. This bloke has the “stuff”.

          I hope those who relentlessly bagged him prior to his 329*, have the guts to put their hand up now.

    • January 9th 2012 @ 9:09am
      Al from ctown said | January 9th 2012 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      Well sed vas, spot on.

    • Columnist

      January 9th 2012 @ 9:31am
      Brett McKay said | January 9th 2012 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      Michael, I’m going to try very hard to stop this from being a shot at you, but one of the biggest issues I have about the swathe of pro-Clarke article of late, is that they’re being written by the very people that led the choruses of criticism in the past. There’s no better example than the good ol’ Daily Telegraph who two years ago were declaring Clarke the “most over-rated cricketer in Australia” but now are running posters and liftout specials about the boy from the west carrying Australia’s cricket team on his shoulders. Admittedly, there’s a new cricket editor at the Terror, but still, the degree of difficulty in such a backflip is truly breath-taking.

      Even in this article here, the various episodes that the knockers hung their hat on are still raised, but now as a method of illustrating how he’s “turned things around”. But I’d argue he hasn’t changed anything, he’s still the same determined professional cricketer he’s always been.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great – and long overdue – that Clarke is finally getting the respect he deserves. His job is, as Vas has very well described above, is to score runs for Australia, and that’s something that he’s done quite well so far. Yet he has always been, and probably will always be unfairly judged on criteria containing anything but runs scored…

      • Roar Guru

        January 9th 2012 @ 2:08pm
        Michael Filosi said | January 9th 2012 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

        I agree that there has been a significant back-flip from a lot of his knockers, hence the intended tongue-in-cheek title “All aboard the Michael Clarke bandwagon.”

        I disagree that Clarke “hasn’t changed anything.” Clarke does seem more at ease and forthright in my opinion since taking over the captaincy, which have helped people warm to him a little bit more. I think that the Australian public and Clarke have probably met halfway.

        I don’t consider myself a Clarke knocker, but he is also not one of my favourite players. As I’ve written in the piece, I found him hard to warm to initially, but that’s no crime, and the bad press he got was excessive. The fact that I (or others) didn’t warm to him immediately doesn’t make him a bad person, or mean that the bad press he got was justified. It’s just an observation.

        I think he is an excellent captain, and although it is a big call at this early point, it would not surprise me if by the time his career finished he was considered amongst the best Australian cricket captains we’ve had.

        I wrote another Roar article previously which questioned why we, as Australians, hadn’t warmed to Clarke. It might provide an interesting comparison….

    • January 9th 2012 @ 11:01am
      jameswm said | January 9th 2012 @ 11:01am | ! Report

      Vas it’s not so much that Clarke lost our respect before, it’s that he hadn’t earnt it. He’s starting to and that’s a good thing. Let’s leave it at that.

      I also don’t like the word “haters”. None of the public really hates him as they don’t know him (and I’d ignore anyone who says they do). It’s criticism of him, his choices, his actions etc. And being a public figure, it comes with the territory.

      Let’s just see how he goes for the next 5 years, but since he’s been captain, the tactics are better and he’s scoring more runs. That’s part of the job (a big part) but not all of it. Where was he during our batting collapses? Offering wisdom or letting everyone work things out for themselves, like previous captains have? I don’t know the answer, and it’s harsh considering those collapses partly his fault I know. But I wonder what his actions were like during that nonetheless.

      • January 9th 2012 @ 11:43am
        bigbaz said | January 9th 2012 @ 11:43am | ! Report

        At our last batting collapse he scored a lazy 329.

        • January 9th 2012 @ 12:31pm
          jameswm said | January 9th 2012 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

          True. But on the two before he scored single digits.

          I don’t just mean what he scored, I mean whether he was offering any advice. I don’t know that many of his predecessors did – I wonder if the captain offers advice to any players individually at that level. But something has to be done about those collapses and right now it’s the only black mark on his captaincy, if it can be considered a black mark on it.

    • January 9th 2012 @ 12:13pm
      St Mark W said | January 9th 2012 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

      Let me start by congratulating Michael Clarke on a superb innings of 329* against India and doing a very good job captaining the Australian cricket team over the last 12 months.

      The reality of Michael Clarke 12 months ago is that he was in the middle of a batting form slump that should have seen his place in the team being questioned rather than him ascending to ‘Top Dog’. Going into the Sydney Ashes Test of 2010 Clarke had gone 17 innings with a top score of 80 and an average of just 24.3. He went another 6 innings before beating the 80 with 112. He went through a similar form slump between November 2004 and November 2005 (22 innings, 91 top score, av. 25.3) the saw him, I think rightly, dropped from the Australian side.

      I do agree that Michael Clarke has received undue criticism for irrelevant personality traits but that shouldn’t be used to deflect justified criticism of his cricketing form. Professional sport people, by the nature of what they do, survive or fall based on their recent form.

      I’m a firm believer that you pick the Australian cricket team on form and then choose the best captain from the team chosen but this doesn’t seem to have been the case in recent years. There is at least the suggestion of double standards existing for certain players and most people hate favouritism, unless they’re the ones benefiting from it. 🙂

      PS Should we change Pup’s nickname to ‘Top Dog’? 😉

      • January 9th 2012 @ 12:36pm
        Red Kev said | January 9th 2012 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

        Don’t go bringing your sensible statistics into a discussion about cricket selections – that is not what the selectors look at!
        It is very interesting those stats on Clarke are very similar to then captain Ponting’s. Cricket Australia may have simply ignored them because their captain and vice-captain are big investments and they just gave them the time to come good. The Australian cricket team is rightly described as a boys club in this respect – once you’re “in” (and I mean properly in as opposed to just selected) it is very difficult to get displaced from your spot. You are afforded a lot less slack if you are newly selected (Khawaja) or not truly one of the in crowd (Katich).

      • January 9th 2012 @ 3:40pm
        JohnB said | January 9th 2012 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

        The line about Clarke’s poor form comes up quite often. While he has never been my cup of tea, I don’t think it adds to the debate to not put things in some context.

        Clarke did very well in his first 2 series, back in 2004/5 (India and NZ). He then tailed right off for several series up to 2005/6 and was dropped – fair enough too. By then he’d played 22 tests and was averaging around 36 (but relying heavily on runs from those first 2 series for that figure).

        From 2006/7 to 2009/10 he played 12 series, 38 tests, for 12 hundreds and 14 fifties in 63 innings. In the 12 series, he had a series average of 28 (once), just under 36 (once) and 45 (once). He averaged in the 50s twice, in the 60s twice, in the 70s three times, in the 80s once and 216 the other time (a 2 test series where he was once out). His average in that period was just over 60.

        I don’t have the figures for everyone else to see if anyone else was doing even better, but even if they were that’s very consistent performance, over several years.

        The first 2 of the fateful 17 innings with a top score of 80 are in that period (incidentally, the innings before that? 168).

        He’s then played the 2010 series v Pakistan in England, and averaged 34.75 across 4 innings, with one fifty. A moderate but hardly bad performance, particularly remembering the state of the wicket for one of those games.

        The wheels unarguably did fall off in 2010/11 – in the 2 test series against India he made a forgettable 35 runs (av 8.75) in 4 innings, and the Ashes were as poor for him as they were for others – 9 innings, average 21.44, one fifty.

        So, do you immediately swing the axe for someone in that position? To me 4 years of consistent contribution buys enough grace that questioning his position at the time of the Sydney test last year was very unreasonable – particularly when he wasn’t on his own in having a bad series, and the range of available alternatives was such that Phil Hughes and Steve Smith were in the team.

        • January 10th 2012 @ 6:35pm
          St Mark W said | January 10th 2012 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

          How far back we go in assessing a persons ‘form’ will always be an issue of debate, as will, when and when not to swing the axe. How many innings should any player be given at the top level to regain form?

          IMHO, any Test batman averaging just 24.3 in 17 innings is open to criticism, no matter who they are. If they are open to criticism then their place in their side should rightly be under active discussion, irrespective of who they are or what they might have done in the past.

        • January 10th 2012 @ 6:51pm
          St Mark W said | January 10th 2012 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

          Perhaps the main issue is that the same standard be used for all players to avoid the suggestion of favouritism. How many extra chances does a player get based on past performances? The more objective the process is seen to be the less contention there is when form slips.

          We Australians do have a very strong egalitarian streak, no one’s inherently better than anyone else, so real, and even perceived, favouritism will always cause animosity.

    • January 9th 2012 @ 1:45pm
      Harry said | January 9th 2012 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

      Hmm … Firstly let me say Michael Clarke is the right person to captain Australia and did a magnificent job in Sydney, a career defining innings and really impressive leadership -admittedly from a position of strength.
      Nevertheless I am, or have been, a critic. To Vaz and others, here’s why:
      – Went to sponsors breakfasts the morning of the Melbourne Ashes test rather than focus on proceedings. Australia collapsed for less than 120 and the response was a collective shrug of the shoulders, Clarke at the forefront.
      – When captaining Australia for the first time, left the ground immediately after play ended, when the team was in trouble … saw this with my own two eyes and was horrified.
      – Taking time off from a test series because of girlfriend problems. I mean really … I accept that for matters of life and death (birth or illnesses of family) but not for that. If thats insensitive and judgemental then so be it.
      – On the field a few examples of getting out just before stumps (Adelaide, Lords). And some bad form slumps.

      So no I don;t think it was inexplicable that many people, including me, were against this guy being captain of Australia. The fact that he’s taken a massive step in turning that perception around in recent weeks shows the good character of the man and I hope he continues.

      • Roar Guru

        January 9th 2012 @ 2:14pm
        The Barry said | January 9th 2012 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

        There’s any number of reasons why people have had difficulty warming to Clarke.

        The million dollar bat sponsorship before playing a test
        Being annointed a “future Australian captain” before playing a test
        Flashing around in a Ferrari
        The public relationship with Lara (Bingle not Brian)
        Constant ads of Clarke in his undies
        The Katich / team song incident
        The time off to mend a broken heart
        Lack of big scores
        Form slump of 12 months ago

        Michael – you’re completely wrong that people are jumping on the bandwagon. Being the golden haired boy may not have been of his making but he certainly played up to the image. Clarke is winning people over because he is finally letting his actions on the field speak louder than what he’s doing off it.

        I was a fan of Clarke initially but went off him for all the reasons above – so far I’m impressed with the way he’s played, conducted himself and captained the side since taking over. I’ve always acknowledged him as a good cricketer – just a bit of a tool off the pitch.

        I’m not jumping on any bandwagon – I’m slowly changing my opinion of someone who is finally displaying some substance over style and giving people a reason to like him.

        • January 9th 2012 @ 7:40pm
          Matt F said | January 9th 2012 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

          Barry, most of those reason are just stupid.

          Bat Sponsorship – I doubt he was on a million dollars before he played test cricket, though I stand to be corrected. Regardless name me anybody else his age that wouldn’t take that kind of money if they were offered. I would and I’m positive that you would as well.

          Annointed leader – Why is that his fault? He didn’t order CA to annoint him. They saw his potential leadership qualities, and the age of the rest of the side at the time, and thought he had the nescessary qualities. Signs so far have been quite good. Hate CA if you want but it’s not his fault. these same people must absolutely despise Tim Paine!

          Bingle – A man in his early-mid 20’s falls in love with a girl, realises she’s no good and ditches her. I’m sure there are plenty of people who have gone out with somebody that they now regret in hindsight.

          Undie ads – He hasn’t done those for years. Besides everybody loves Pat Rafter and he was in the exact same ad campaign!

          Katich – God forbid he thinks 5 hours of celebrating a victory is enough! I’m still not sure how requesting a song be sung (which always used to be sung straight after a game until fairly recently) warrants getting a hand around your throat……

          Time off – he missed a few pointless ODI’s to fix his personal life, ditch Bingle in person (ie the right way,) and get his mind right for the Test series. I love a cricketer that puts Test cricket first. Don’t you?

          Lack of big scores – 18 test centuries not enough? Average of 48.65? That’s a very good record so far.

          Form slump – People don’t like him because he had a form slump? I can understand questioning his spot in the XI but why is that a reason not to like him? Besides, every player has had rough patches in their careers. I’d love to know of a player who’s never had a form slump before. Ponting was rubbish for 2 years up until a few weeks ago yet he got a rousing reception everywhere he went.

          • Roar Guru

            January 10th 2012 @ 9:47am
            The Barry said | January 10th 2012 @ 9:47am | ! Report

            Fair enough, but regardless of whether or not you think these things are ‘stupid’ one, some or all of these are the reasons why people have struggled to warm to Clarke.

            I think the common thread with a lot of these things is the way Clarke has been happy to play them all out in public. You may call it tall poppy syndrome but I would suggest (without any data other than gut feel) that most Aussies don’t warm to guys who constantly ‘big note’ themselves. We prefer our heroes to be a bit more humble.

            The Ferrari, the bat sponsorship, the undies, the relationship with Bingle, whether they’re stupid or not were played out in public. To my mind the biggest factor in the turnaround of how Clarke is perceived is that he’s showing infinitely more humility and is keeping his private life private. 329* didn’t hurt !

            For example – his new missus is an absolute stunner, but have you seen them plastered over New Idea, etc like the Bingle relationship was ?

            What we’re talking about is public perception of Clarke – mainly away from the field – and since coming onto the first class scene I don’t think he’s managed his image (or brand) particularly well.

            • January 10th 2012 @ 9:59am
              Red Kev said | January 10th 2012 @ 9:59am | ! Report

              It’s not that Australia prefer their heroes to be humbler, it is that Australian culture has a fundamental dislike of authority and affluence – it plays out in tall poppy syndrome, it plays out in the romanticised hero worship of a thief and murderer in Ned Kelly. Clarke has and (shock horror) spends money, and he toes the company line rather than mouthing off – he might have his cool guy tatts but he’s essentially the class captain and Australians like to see themselves as gritty and slightly rebellious (however false that self image is).

              • Roar Guru

                January 10th 2012 @ 1:18pm
                The Barry said | January 10th 2012 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

                Interesting point but I disagree. Use Mundine as an example. He doesn’t toe any company line and in many ways is completely rebellious and goes against the ‘standard’ view on a lot of ways but the vast majority of sporting fans are turned off by his attitude.

                Australians will always side with the humble athlete that goes about his business rather than the flash harry. Clarke’s run-in with Katich is an example, as Matt F points out above all Clarke wanted to do was go and spend some time with his missus after 5 hours of celebration and got grabbed by the throat and slammed into a locker…yet nearly everyone sided with Katich.

          • January 10th 2012 @ 5:16pm
            Margaret said | January 10th 2012 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

            I’m pleased to see a couple of sensible comments about the Katich incident. In my workplace (and they are professional cricketers so it was their workplace) what Katich did would get him instant dismissal. The criticism of Clarke for this has always made me angry.

      • January 9th 2012 @ 3:52pm
        JohnB said | January 9th 2012 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

        Harry, he missed a one day series for the Bingle issues, and returned for the tests (playing both, making 168 first up and 28 and 63 in the second).

        • Roar Guru

          January 10th 2012 @ 9:48am
          The Barry said | January 10th 2012 @ 9:48am | ! Report

          So ? I didn’t say that he’d missed tests. He’s a professional cricketer – what reaction would you get if you asked your boss for two weeks off to break up with your girlfriend ?

          • Roar Guru

            January 10th 2012 @ 9:56am
            The Barry said | January 10th 2012 @ 9:56am | ! Report

            Whoops – sorry JohnB read Barry, not Harry in your post. My bad.

            Still – my point stands about taking time off work to break up with your girlfriend !

            • January 10th 2012 @ 1:12pm
              JohnB said | January 10th 2012 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

              No worries Barry. I was originally of your way of thinking. I’ve come around to the view that maybe if this was going to completely preoccupy him, such that he would have just been going through the motions playing the one-dayers with his mind elsewhere, it was the right thing to do to go and sort it out (even though it would have been easier in many ways to stay and play in a half-arsed way). Maybe that’s an over-generous construction of it.

      • January 9th 2012 @ 4:24pm
        Vas Venkatramani said | January 9th 2012 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

        Harry, let’s break down your points one by one.

        – Was it Clarke’s fault that he was required to attend a sponsor’s function, or is Vodafone void of any blame for scheduling a p*ssy media event during the middle of an important Test match? If Clarke says no, then CA has to sack him to keep Vodafone happy. And as the Monkeygate issue showed, CA has no problem in selling out its players in order to keep their profits thriving. Clarke was merely covering his arse. The alternative would be to kiss his international career goodbye.

        – Clarke left the ground after play ended? My God that’s terrible. What do you expect him to do, stay and deliver a lashing to his players on the field in full public view? Remember these guys are professionals and do this for a living. They don’t deserve to be humiliated in the full view of the public gallery. If that’s what you’re after, go to a mud wrestling match.

        – Clarke did not miss the NZ test series that coincided with Lara Bingle’s personal issues. He sought leave from the ODI series that preceded it, where players are regularly rested to keep fresh for the more important Tests. And while Lara Bingle might be a media whore and showpony, Clarke was doing the right thing by the woman he was with. Admonishing him for trying to help his girlfriend through a serious issue is something I would like to think we would all do, regardless whether we’re Michael Clarke or Joe Nobody.
        (And for the record, his first appearance after breaking up with Bingle, he scored 168 – his highest Test score until a week ago).

        – Getting out before stumps. Bad form slumps. Read Waugh, Taylor, Ganguly, Hayden, Martyn, Katich, Clarke (after his first bout). Read even Bradman (who scored 18 and 1 in his first Test, and was dropped in the following one). While Tendulkar has never been dropped (not that India’s selectors would ever have the hide to do so), he did get out to Peter Siddle in Melbourne near stumps on Day 2. Given a career of 183 Test matches, I can imagine that wouldn’t be the first time he’s done so.

        Point is, the so-called supporters of Australian cricket love a scapegoat whenever things are tough, and their attention turns to Clarke, regardless of whether he’s actually at fault or not. And they hold much more value on when he’s in bad form then when he’s in good form.

        For no better proof of that, people will still talk about last season’s poor Ashes series now. Yet in a year from now, if Clarke gets in a slump, then those same people will decide to conveniently forget he’s made four hundreds in his first 10 Tests as captain with an average above 60. And for those thinking I’m referring heavily to his triple ton, that’s still not as good as the knock he made against South Africa in the Cape Town debacle. I’ve not seen a better Test innings by an Australian batsman in tough conditions since Steve Waugh…

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