Should Michael Clarke be playing in the First Test?

I’m no physio, psychologist or selector, but honestly, respectfully, can’t see how Michael Clarke is mentality or physically fit to play in Adelaide.

Two Tuesday afternoons ago, Clarke was driving to the SCG to tell Phil Hughes his hamstring was still crook and he (Hughes) was replacing him (Clarke) in the eleven for the opening Test against India starting the next week. Selector Mark Waugh was already there, waiting for a break in play to give Hughes, out in the middle and scoring more runs, the good news.

Clarke was also about to be hauled into headquarters and asked to “please explain” his behaviour in regards to his injury. Clarke had been told by selectors to travel to Adelaide for the two-dayer against the Indians to prove his fitness, however he had allegedly refused, instead declaring he wanted to have a hit in Sydney grade cricket. Clarke’s team had batted first the previous Saturday and declared at 1 for 17 or something silly like that in the hope he would have a hit the next weekend. If all this is true, it’s another example of the strained relationship between Clarke and his bosses.

Sadly, as we know, Phil Hughes never received the news, all cricket was abandoned for the week, and Clarke was stoically and admirably front and centre as grieving mate and captain.

Now, almost a fortnight later, without a warm-up game (I don’t know if the ‘Please Explain’ was delivered), Clarke is in Adelaide with the squad and the talk is he will be playing.

Why? Why have selectors changed their minds towards Clarke’s injury? Have they backed down? Why isn’t he playing a Shield game before returning to national duties?

In this traumatic time, it would be easy and understandable to put emotions before rational thought.

Has Clarke received constant treatment on his hammy over the last two weeks? Or professional counselling to deal with his grief? Running laps and having a few nets hardly seem enough. I can’t help but feel emotion has ruled and Clarke is being permitted to lead his country before he is ready.

I hope I’m wrong and Clarke scores a century and lifts his bat and baggy green to the heavens. I’ll be cheering as loudly as anyone.

Comments

  1. Dave Brown says

    Good question, Andrew. I have no problem with Clarke playing. Symbolically it’s important he leads Australia out tomorrow and after the last week I will never doubt his leadership credentials again. His hammy has had a longer break than originally anticipated and he averages 98 at the Adelaide Oval. His body always seems to be a gamble, so I reckon it’s well worth taking the gamble for this event.

  2. Callum O'Connor says

    If he’s still uncertain today, he won;t be 100% tomorrow. Leave him out..

  3. Andrew i was fairly sure Shaun Marsh would play alongside his brother in the first test. I’d certainly prefer Michael Clarke in the team, but you really wonder how much petrol; he has left in the tank. At his age, chronic back and hamstring injuries don’t auger well for the future.

    Glen!

  4. Good one AS,
    In three weeks from today, we’ll be on Day 4 of the 3rd Test.
    Reckon they’ll rest MJ Clarke for Adelaide so as not to destroy him for the rest. Probably worth having him in Adelaide just now as the figurehead.
    .

  5. I’m not so worried about Clarke’s mind or body as the fact he hasn’t batted or made runs for an extended period.

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Purely common sense wise says no. but his amazing leadership from. the moment
    Hughes was hit allows him to make his own decision I reckon

  7. Hughes named as 13th man. Nice touch.

    Siddle in, Hazelwood 12th.

  8. Every rational bone in my body agrees with you Andrew. But I have seen elite athletes do the impossible too many times to write Clarke off in Adelaide. I remember watching the Rumble in the Jungle back at the time, and thinking it was cruel watching a great athlete being pummelled and humiliated.
    I think Clarke has personal qualities that on a flat Adelaide deck could see him triumph against his body and his form.
    I hope so anyway.

  9. Andrew Starkie says

    Fingers crossed the gamble works. There’s another Test next week and the week after. A big workload could see Clarke injured again and out of the world cup.

  10. The People's Elbow says

    Andrew, surely you’re not placing the one-day World Cup ahead of the Test series in terms of priorities for M. Clarke?

  11. Andrew
    Thought-provoking, for a number of reasons.
    The Phil Hughes tragedy has certainly changed the M Clarke narrative,
    amongst the punters and, it would seem, Cricket Australia also.

  12. Well Starkey, you tipped this.

  13. Shared your view, Andrew: his selection had the stink of an emotional decision written all over it. That said, we got 60 runs out of him, a correct call at the toss and the incalculable value of his leadership for a half a day. Reckon the selectors can call that breaking even …. for this match. Should me miss the rest of the summer, though …. hmmm, I’d say history will be unkind them.

  14. The People's Elbow says

    What good is sport if you can’t take a gamble now and then. So much of it has already been corporatised, let’s not further drag it without emotion into the excrement of a risk analyses spreadsheet that is deaf to rolling the dice.

  15. Yeah, Clarke’s presence on one of the most solemn and notable days in Australian cricket was worth the risk. The occasion called for the punt. When normal transmission resumes, though, I’m more comfortable going back to an actuary’s spreadsheet. With the worry and heartburn we have at the western oval over the 6 mill we’re forking out for an untried kid, I can do with a little less emotion by those entrusted with making what should be calculated decisions.

  16. Luke Reynolds says

    Point well made Andrew, but I’m also of the opinion that it was a gamble that had to be made under these extraordinary circumstances. Hopefully Clarke can return quickly, but either way there are huge doubts on his future.

  17. Andrew Starkie says

    I know, I know, but he lasted 2 hours. 2 hours.

  18. Well said Elbow. If he doesn’t come back, his presence and a match average of 30 will be worth more than other batsmen (bet Rogers and Watto don’t match it). He has done more for Australian cricket in 2 hours than Watto could do in 2 months.
    As for the injury – it was going to go whether he rested 6 days, 6 weeks or 6 months. A chronic injury like that never gets better short of miracle surgery.
    Clarke is up there with Border, Ponting and Steve Waugh as great Australian leaders/batsmen. It will be sad if injury doesn’t let him crown a brilliant career.

  19. The silence is deafening. Any mea culpas gents?
    Never write off a champion. Form is temporary, class is permanent. Almost by definition, a champion does the improbable with improbable frequency.
    The ability to cut out the background noise of form, injury, doubt, pain, grief and have a singular focus on the task – second by second; minute by minute. Its a very rare human quality. Most of us think too much and do too little. A champion somehow reverses that.

  20. No that’s just the wisdom of hindsight, PB.
    He got lucky, that’s it.
    Good managenent helps, sure.
    But no one can will themselves back from injury.
    It’s a return to the “fighting” of cancer/ broken bones/ broken spirit narrative.
    He got lucky.
    It just is.

    Greg Baum asks an interesting one today: at what point does stubbornness become obstinacy?

  21. I’ll admit a mea culpa if Clarke plays the next match and Tom Boyd doesn’t cost us Stringer, Bontempelli and Macrae. Until then, let’s get our decision makers back crunching data in spreadsheets!.

  22. Clarke now confirmed out for summer; Andrew’s gravest concerns vindicated. The question is, the next time we have an extraordinary situation like this, and emotions are running at the selection table, will the voices of reason ring more compellingly? I expect so, and especially when they make reference to this case. All the same, if it was a blue to select Clarke, then what a blue to make. He made a ton, did as much as anyone to help heal a wounded nation, and consolidated his claims to be the ballsiest cricketer since Steve Waugh. Sh*t, now that’s what I call one swallow making a summer.

  23. (edit to last post)

    Clarke now confirmed out for summer; Andrew’s gravest concerns vindicated. The question is, the next time we have an extraordinary situation like this, and emotions are running high at the selection table, will the voices of reason ring more compellingly? I expect so, and especially when they make reference to this case. All the same, if it was a blue to select Clarke, then what a blue to make. He made a ton, did as much as anyone to help heal a wounded nation, and consolidated his claims to be the ballsiest cricketer since Steve Waugh. Sh*t, now that’s what I call one swallow making a summer

  24. Rest was never going to cure Clarke’s back and hamstring problems. He knew he had a limited number of shots in the locker, and he CHOSE to use it nobly in the noblest of cricketing causes.
    MJ Clarke went from very good to great as a cricketer in the last 3 weeks.

  25. Thanks for those certainties, Peter B … esteemed chiropractor and physiotherapist.

    Share your respect for M Clarke, though.

  26. T-Bone: I never argue with fools or drunks. Have you been drinking?

  27. I hope you regret that comment, Peter. I certainly wasn’t trying to be nasty to you. Just pointing out that couldn’t be certain of your claims … and even if you were someone qualified to make them.

  28. Malcolm Ashwood says

    T Bone , Clarke was always a huge chance to break down but the circumstances can never ever be compared to anything , Clarke had to play

  29. Hey Rulebook

    Yeah, they were extraordinary circumstances, and I agree, that made it all the more important to have our leader out there. But, as Andrew put forward, would the cost of doing so be too much? Reckon it’ll be interesting to see how history quantifies whether it was or wasn’t.

    PS. Thanks for taking the time to argue your point in measured and civil way. Reckon some people could learn from that.

    PPS. This matter would be an interesting postscript to your ‘Leadership matters’ article.

  30. Pete, now that you’ve got me in a bad mood with your supercilious dismissal of heavy metal I figured it was time to broach this pesky loose end.

    What was it you said about Clarke again?? …. oh yeah: “Rest was never going to cure Clarke’s back and hamstring problems. He knew he had a limited number of shots in the locker, and he CHOSE to use it nobly in the noblest of cricketing causes.”

    Rest was never going to cure his hamstring problems???? Rest and managing injuries doesn’t make a diff eh. Hmm, well is seems that resting for a couple of months HAS made a difference coz he’s just played 6 straight games!!!!

    Mate, thank ‘you know what’ you’re not in the medical profession coz we’d loose a whole generation of sportsmen to mismanagement.

    PS you might be interested in this article on how Heavy Metal fans are the brightest people in out universities.

    http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2007/mar/21/whymetalfansarebrainier

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