Posted by: jkirkby8712 | January 6, 2012

Friday, 6th January 2012 [No. 1 entry] – Michael Clarke

My contributions over recent weeks have given a lot of time to cricket. As a loyal Test cricket fan, I make no apologies for that. This is a one-off  entry, in order to share a front page article in this morning’s Age newspaper, concerning Michael Clarke’s contribution as captain of the Australian cricket team. The journalist was Greg Baum.

“MICHAEL Clarke walked out to bat at 4.43pm on Tuesday, in a crisis. Day and night came and went, and came and went. The SCG emptied, filled, emptied, was repackaged in Glenn McGrath pink and filled again. Several prime ministers happened by.  Two elders and betters joined him for about a day each, making mere and competent centuries. Two Big Bash League matches were played and instantly lost to memory. Clarke repeatedly changed bats and gloves, and exchanged helmet for cap, cap for helmet. India switched bowlers, balls and fieldsmen in their positions, unavailingly.  Crisis was averted, supremacy stamped in its place. History beckoned. By the first over after lunch yesterday, normally unhurried patrons were pouring down the aisles towards their seats, realising they now were witnesses as well as fans.

At 2.11pm yesterday, after nearly 10½ batting hours, Clarke was 329 not out, king of the SCG and within a couple more of those lacerating cover drives of surpassing Don Bradman, among others, on the honour roll of highest individual Test innings. Then he declared.  Doubtlessly, he figured that Australia’s gargantuan 468-run lead was ample, that victory was the only objective, and that Australia would need the second half of the match to bowl out India again. As it transpired, it took Australia the rest of the day and all its bowling wherewithal to take two wickets.  Yet to some minds, Clarke’s declaration was tactically hasty and had another motivation. Implicit in that thinking is that by affecting ultimate selflessness, he was seeking unreserved acceptance. Here is the last vestige of the mysterious phenomenon by which 2004’s debut centurion and boy wonder so totally lost favour with Australian cricket fans that, at the end of last summer, he was summarily booed by them

Many theories have been advanced. The most persistent is that for a boy from Sydney’s west he was too consumed by lifestyle – the car, clothes, THAT girl – and not enough by cricket. In the land of the aspirational, his sin was to aspire. But in cricket terms he had shunned easy Indian money and, when made captain, quickly showed himself to be an intuitive and astute one. More probably, his unforgivable – though hardly exclusive – latter-day failing was to not make enough runs. But be it approval or scores, building them necessarily are long-term projects. Here is yesterday’s moral.  An innings such as this is by definition larger than life, yet consists of a repetition of life-sized acts: those glorious cover drives, that effortless easing to leg, the feather-light footwork against the off-spinner. Any one ball might have halted it. Ask Shaun Marsh, who faced only one, or Rahul Dravid, who last night was bowled by an exceptional one by Ben Hilfenhaus, or Sachin Tendulkar, who so nearly was. Yet Clarke outlived all of the game’s happenstance, leaving for the record an innings that will far outlive him.  At first, Australia’s pinched circumstances weighed, and Clarke was providently flighty. But once into his innings, it was notable for its even temper and tempo. He became neither bogged down nor carried away. He was rarely tempted, by fast bowlers or slow, but nor was he deceived. Past 300, he still let go balls that posed no threat and would gain him nothing. Clarke knew there was plenty more hay to make.  When India was bedraggled on Wednesday evening, he sped from 150 to 250 in 108 balls. When India regrouped yesterday morning, he was content to face 91 more to get to 300. Truthfully, India had long since stopped trying to get him out, settling instead for attrition. The seamers bowled wide to off-side fields as crowded as Kolkata, the spinner bowled with a leg slip. There was little subtlety.  Ishant Sharma, the most persevering of the Indian bowlers, troubled him, but only every other hour or so. Three hundred posted, he swung airily at Sharma once or twice, not so much liberties as flickers in concentration.

Australia's captain Michael Clarke 
His celebrations were variations on a theme, each hug tighter than the last. For the two to reach 200, he ran with his hands in the air and rounded the non-striker’s wicket as if it were a base. At 300, he gave it the works: a kiss of the helmet, a squeeze for and from Michael Hussey, an acknowledgement of the McGrath Foundation.  The ovation was like the innings, rousing, resonant and sustained. In its echo, an era might have begun”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: