Melbourne: Michael Clarke, the skipper, is a meticulous planner and that’s the reason for his super success as ODI captain. The Australian has led his country in 74 ODIs of which he’s won 50 matches at an astounding success rate of almost 70 per cent. And he still maintains his match routine.
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Australian players celebrate clinching the World Cup at the MCG yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
For example, yesterday, he was at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the World Cup final against New Zealand over an hour before the Australian team left their team hotel to come to the ground.
“Normally, I come to the ground earlier than the team so that I can get my own personal preparation done. Then, once the team arrives, I’m able to worry about every other player. I’ve done that during my captaincy in Test and one-day cricket. I like to get here, make sure my body is warm, look at the wicket, and then go and do my batting in the nets before the boys arrive,” Clarke said in response to a question by mid-day about his early arrival. He was speaking at the post-match press conference.
His batting clicked at just the right time. Chasing 184 for victory, the Australians lost opener Aaron Finch with just two on the board. Big-hitter David Warner departed scoring 45 with Australia’s team total on 63-2.
Clarke stepped in under pressure and worked his way to a 72-ball 74 along with Steven Smith (71-ball 56 not out) to take Australia from the depths of a possible failure to the height of global success, beating the Kiwis by seven wickets with whopping 101 balls to spare.
Clarke came under some criticism for announcing his retirement from ODIs on the eve of the World Cup final, but the 33-year-old explained why he did that. “I wanted tomorrow’s press to only be about the team and not about me. If I’d announced it (retirement from ODIs) tonight, then tomorrow’s press wouldn’t have been about the team. So, I probably took one day of media rather than a week of it. I’m hoping the next week is full of positive things about every single player in that change room and what they’ve achieved in this tournament,” explained Clarke, who humbly admitted that he did not think himself to be in comparison with Australia’s previous World Cup-winning skippers Allan Border, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting.
Michael Clarke, who wore a black armband throughout the World Cup to mourn the death of former Australian teammate Phillip Hughes, said he will do so for the rest of his career.
“Hughesy is thought about on a daily basis. The last couple of months for me have been harder than when he passed away (on November 27, 2014). I’ve been in regular contact with his sister and his family and I know they would have been watching tonight. I won’t play another game, I certainly won’t play a Test match without his Test number on my heart, and I’ll wear this black armband for the rest of my career,” said Clarke at the post-match press conference.
Hughes passed away after being hit on the head by a bouncer from Sean Abbott during a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Clarke said that not a single day had passed since Hughes’ death that the Australian team had not thought about their teammate.
“That’s what makes it so special... that we are still thinking about him. We are still talking about him and we always will. We’ve spoken about it as a team. We believe we played this World Cup with 16 players in our squad, and that will continue for the rest of my career,” added Clarke. -- Ashwin Ferro