Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Does Australia Need Michael Clarke?

Here's the scenario. Michael Clarke, Pup, as he's also known, is the Australian cricket vice captain. It's an important position in the team and one of high responsibility, especially if the captain is rested for certain games and the need is there to fill in.

I'm one of the crowd who doesn't believe that Michael Clarke deserves to take over the captaincy when Ricky Ponting retires. Perhaps that's why Punter has decided to continue and head to England for another Ashes tour. Maybe he wants to see if a real candidate for the position of captain raises his hand. If Mike Hussey wasn't so old I'd put his name forward. He grits his teeth and fights doggedly when necessary and lives for the game. If Ponting wasn't around he'd be a shoe-in for the job.

A captain needs the ability to play a captain's innings. Specifically, when wickets have been lost and a player is batting with the tail he needs to command the strike to protect the weaker batsmen whilst still having the scoreboard tick over. Allan Border epitomised the courage that a captain should have. Sadly, I don't believe that Michael Clarke has it in him. If he bats with the tail he is more content to let the tail get out and he gets a not-out to his name and an artificial boost to his batting average. Very rarely has he taken the game by the scruff of the neck and shown true grit.

Now this latest episode in his career. I don't begrudge a sportsman to take time away from the game for family/personal reasons. But when personal reasons include pulling a family member, an attention-seeking celebrity family member (fiancee in this case), out of a mess of their own creation, I see him putting his team's and country's need too far in second place.

His fiancee, Lara Bingle, was involved a few years back in an affair (his not hers) with AFL player Brendan Fevola. He snapped a picture of her in the shower when she wasn't prepared and it has been circulating since in the footballers' community. Now it has surfaced in the rest of the community and it has caused all manner of embarrassment. She's sued him for $200,000 for misusing her image. Afterall, she made her mark as a model. Michael Clarke, guilty of lavishing her with expensive gifts, is now caught up in the bruhaha and having to fly home to support his fiancee. She appears to have him under the thumb and a little brow-beaten as she seems to be calling the shots.

Surely this isn't a big enough issue to leave your team for? She's been used to the spotlight in the media for years, ever since the "So Where The Bloody Hell Are You?" tourism campaign in which she first came to our attention. There have been a number of high profile relationships with sportsmen but she looks as though she has hit paydirt with Clarke. He bought her a $400,000 car for a present and just purchased a $6m residence. It's all her doing and I think that it may be the undoing of Michael Clarke the test cricketer and future Australian captain.

As I suspected today the Australian team didn't miss Clarke as they beat New Zealand in a one day match. If he continues not to be missed then is he going to find himself fighting to regain his position? Not a wise move to run home to sort out the mess.

On the other hand, if his father's cancer has made the old man take a turn for the worse I whole-heartedly agree with his return to Australia. Time will tell if this is the real reason or not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Na give all the money to Hammy!!!