Just as Michael Clarke’s future ascension to the Australian captaincy is a foregone conclusion, his eminence as a batsman was widely predicted by experts well before he made his debut in Bangalore in 2004 with a bubbly 151. But it was not all smooth sailing as he lost his place and had to prove himself again.
When Clarke returned for the 2005-06 Ashes, it was as a thoughtful batsman and an intelligent decision maker, and it was only natural that he be appointed Ricky Ponting’s deputy. Clarke’s big test came recently when, Andrew Symonds preferred a fishing expedition to a compulsory team meeting. The tough decision to send Symonds home was taken but as Clarke revealed, the call was not his alone.
Excerpts from a chat:
On him being the man to send Symonds packing
(Laughs) It certainly wasn’t a decision I made on my own. It was a decision made by the decision group in the team. It was done in the best interests of the team and in the best interests of Symonds. It’s great to see Symmo back playing cricket now and in time he’ll be back in the Australian team. He is still one of my great friends. I love not only playing but also having him around.
On his success in India
I’ve had some success here in the past and I’m looking forward to getting back to Bangalore, where I made my Test debut, and making some more runs. Obviously, we will be playing against guys who love playing in their conditions, a great team in any conditions. There are a lot of challenges playing Test cricket in India, but that’s a great part of being an international cricketer. India is a great place to learn about the game and its history.
On whether expectations of him have increased
I don’t think so. It’s about making sure I train hard, whichever form of the game. I like playing positive, aggressive cricket. Every Test series has a lot riding on it; the Australian team wants to win every game and I don’t think anything will change here. We’ve got a very good squad with a lot of guys looking forward to playing their first Test match in India.
On the inexperience in the Australian team
Youths in the team is a great thing for us. So many fresh faces brings energy to the game. Yes, the Indian team is very experienced, but I still feel we have a lot of experience in our squad as well. Our captain has played so much cricket and so has Matthew Hayden.
On the inaugural IPL
The reason I didn’t play in the first season was because my fiancee’s father passed away, and my father was diagnosed with cancer. I wanted to spend time with him. I’d love to part of the IPL in years to come. It’s great for cricket as a whole. The IPL helped a lot of guys with Indian conditions and playing T20 cricket. It was great for relationships.