How I will remember Michael Clarke
But what transpired during the tragic times of his losing his friend and a teammate he fondly loved, unearthed a more humane nature and a tender side of Michael Clarke that we all fell in love with.
It was 2014 November and Cricket’s aura had been dull with pall of gloom looming over it with Phil Hughes’ untimely and tragic loss. Emotions had been running intense across the cricketing fraternity, more so in Australia than anywhere else in the world. Thousands of voices and messages gathered from different parts of the world paying an emotional tribute to cricket’s lost son. Hughes’s loss revealed a never seen humane and softer side of everyone involved in the game. Most notably it came from the captain of the Aussie side that Hughes was intermittently part of.
Ever since Michael Clarke made his debut as a 20-year-old youngster flourishing to fame, he left traces of his presence, felt just like any other cricketer forging forward the brash Australian culture. It didn’t take long enough for Michael Clarke to be tagged as a player with a ‘’street fighter’’ attitude sensationalizing the news headlines. Wherever Clarke ventured in his journey as a cricketer, he carried the burden of being a controversial bloke who was strikingly difficult to live with.
This truth was well acknowledged as most of the cricketing world portrayed Clarke as an arrogant and a rough cricketer who always stood at the helm of the controversies. The Proteas disliked him for the personal sledge enraging Dale Steyn. The dreadful memory of SCG in 2008 still continues to haunt the Indians who labeled Clarke as a cheater for falsely claiming a grounded catch. The verbal barrage he had with England at least once in every Ashes series maligned Clarke even more.
A different side of Clarke’s character
The manner of his conduct made us forget a vague opinion that was unjustly imprinted in the minds of several sports fans. All the hatred started to wane. Further in Clarke, it brought out the best of his raw emotions, as opposed to his on-field character.
Bidding farewell forever to a beloved friend and a team mate is a job no captain would wish to confront in any phase of his professional career. But to his misfortune, Phil Hughes’ loss was the test of Clarke’s emotions. It was the most unknown of Clarke’s qualities – a grim expression at the press conference and begging for patience while helplessly trying to bring himself under control dealing with the flashy cameras and the unfamiliar situation, only to convey the saddening death of his friend. Sure enough, it made Clarke run through a range of emotions he never confronted before.
Clarke’s conduct in those difficult times was an action that stands as a worthy illustration of what it means to be a human. The courage of words he had shown in his support to Sean Abbott, the manner in which he presented himself at Phil Hughes' funeral, all enclasped him to the public as the trusted Australian captain he was supposed to be.
The purest emotions of Clarke
Sometimes it takes only one incident in life to evoke a change in life. Woefully for Clarke, it was this tragedy that made everyone realize he was much more than just a cricketer. Watching him struggle to put his words together with those teary eyes, being deeply inconsolable, highlighted the purity of his feelings.
This whole episode makes everyone realize how a sportsperson can be a different human than what he is on the field. It also throws into light the fact that life and emotions are much bigger than a sport.
Everyone knew Michael Clarke as a problem child of the sport, but none could comprehend his inner soul. He was never properly embraced by the public due to his street fighter attitude. But among everything in his career, the world will continue to admire Clarke for his character and leadership during the times of adversity for what he stood for and how he presented himself.
The world cannot forget the Phil Hughes tragedy which put cricket in the darkest hours of sadness and despair. And neither can we forget Michael Clarke who went through the trauma of emotional turbulence. There is no doubt that Clarke will be facing a vigilant battle with his own emotions whenever he reflects back on his career.
This is something which was never confronted by any of his predecessors. And considering this ordeal Clarke has gone through, it is this purest form of Michael Clarke we all would want to remember, that makes him radically distinct from the rest who etched their legacy as Baggy Green skippers.