Former Australian World Cup winning captain Michael Clarke has opened up about a number of incidents during his playing career while speaking to a television channel recently, clearing the air about this duels with Simon Katich and Shane Watson. In a tell-all interview with reporter Allison Langdon on ‘60 Minutes on Sunday Night’, Clarke spoke at length about his equation with his teammates during his international career, as well as the death of his close friend Phillip Hughes.
Perceived as an outsider due to his flamboyant lifestyle, Clarke admits that he was not in the traditional mould of the ideal Australian skipper, but clarified that “he did nothing wrong, but did it my way.”
He finally cleared the air surrounding his clash with Simon Katich in the dressing room after a Test in 2009. While he had refused to comment on the issue for the most part of his playing career, Clarke conceded that he did have a physical altercation with the left-hander.
“We were all wound up. We had every reason to be p***** off. But, I don’t think my language was appropriate to Kato,” he stated.
The two had an altercation regarding the timing of singing their team song, with a riled up Katich accusing Clarke because the latter allegedly wanted to visit his model fiancee Lara Bingle. Clarke conceded that Katich did grab him by the shirt.
He also admitted that other members of the team were unhappy with the way things panned out between Clarke and Katich. Clarke did not know that Matthew Hayden was retiring after the end of the Test, and the incident agitated Hayden as well.
Clarke also spoke about his duel with then vice-captain Shane Watson. On being asked whether he had said that Watson was like cancer, Clarke said, “I said that there is a number of players, a group in this team at the moment, that are like a tumour and if we don't fix it, it's going to turn into a cancer.”
And, Watson, he said, was one of the players.
On being asked if he thought the players liked him as a captain, a visibly emotional Clarke said that he knows that they did respect him as one. “I know they believed in the cause I made, and they knew I’d put the team in front of any personal relationship,” he added.
The death of Phillip Hughes proved to be a major emotional setback to Clarke. Struggling to mouth his thoughts while reminiscing his former teammate, Clarke said that he somehow felt that he’d be OK after the injury when he knew it won’t end well.
He also said that he didn’t have a proper chance to say goodbye to his close friend. “I spent the whole night talking to him and that breaks my heart,” he said.
“It was always hard to play cricket after that.”
He led the Australian team in Adelaide against India five days after Hughes’ funeral. Battling personal grief and a terrible back pain, he captained the side to a 48-run win.
“Two weeks earlier they wouldn’t pick me in the team for the Test team when I was fitter than what I was, come Adelaide Test. A week and a half on, I lose my best mate and their begging me to play the Test. I was burning inside because of that”.
He scored his last (and 28th Test century) for the Australian team in that match.