Skipper setting sail: Michael Clarke will compete in the Sydney to Gold Coast yacht race. Photo: Louise KennerleyAustralian captain Michael Clarke has spent his off-season reflecting on Australia’s meteoric rise to the top of cricket’s world rankings and says he does not regret anything from infamous “Homework-gate” scandal in India last year.
Australia play India in four Tests at home this summer and will be in a remarkably different head space to 12 months ago, after being embroiled in a series where four players were dropped from Test duties for not completing a homework task.
Clarke and then-coach Mickey Arthur took the full brunt for the humiliating 4-0 loss in India but the skipper said there were a number of players who weren’t “on the train” and needed to be put into line.
“India by far was the toughest period of my captaincy,” Clarke said. “In the build up to that event [homework-gate], there were a number of things that occured over a long period of time; it wasn’t just that event. Mickey drew a line in the sand and yes, I was a part of it, I stand by that, but I dont regret it one bit. I backed my coach, I supported him and I believe the decision, especially now that I look back, was the best decision for Australian cricket.”
Despite the sacking of Arthur as a result of the tumultuous tour, Clarke said he was not fazed about questions over his captaincy, but rather the validity of claims made about the Australian team. “I was more disappointed and upset at the fact a team I was captaining was labelled the worst Australian team to tour India; I blame me,” Clarke said.
“We said if you want to be a part of what I believe is the greatest team in the world, then you need to be willing to jump on the train and at the time, the whole team was not on the train. So for guys that let us down again, there’s going to be severe punishment.”
Clarke spent Thursday helping raise money for the Loyal Foundation before his Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht race on Saturday, where he will have to battle a chronic fear of sharks alongside Perpetual Loyal skipper Anthony Bell. “Growing up, I had nightmares of getting attacked by sharks, eaten by sharks and swimming away from sharks,” Clarke said. “It’s been there my whole life and I definitely check pools for sharks.”
The 33-year-old said the break from competitive cricket has been “really nice” and believed the Australian team was yet to play its best cricket, despite resounding victories against England and South Africa early this year.
“There’s a hell of a lot still to achieve, I think our team’s still growing,” Clarke said. “I still don’t think we’re at our best as a group, but we’re extremely proud of what we have achieved. We’ve got India; a tough test team coming to Australia this summer and then we go back to England next summer for the Ashes, so there’s still a lot of tough cricket in front of us, but we’re excited by that.”
Asked how long he had left in the baggy green cap, Clarke said he would go into the Indian series with as much exuberance at the blond-haired youngster who plundered 151 not out in Bangalore on debut. “I feel like my game still has a long way to go to achieve what I want to achieve.” Clarke said. “I guess when that starts to fade, then I know that’s my time in this chosen sport to walk away.”
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