Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 4th day January 6, 2012

Twenty20 sacrifice pays off for Michael Clarke

41

This day last year, Australia were about to be splintered by England in the fifth Ashes Test, and their stand-in captain Michael Clarke was about to announce his retirement from international Twenty20 matches.

Twelve months later, Clarke has led his team to an overwhelming victory against India, and his monumental 329 not out was its centerpiece. The first step Clarke made between then and now was to excuse himself from the game's shortest format, and it now appears among the wisest decisions he has made.

Clarke was never the most natural fit for Twenty20 anyway, but his muddled batting in the Ashes was the best encapsulation of the syndrome that had Australia spreading its diminished resources too thinly across the formats. It was an approach the former coach Tim Nielsen said had made the team "jack of all trades and master of none".

"The greatest thing about the Twenty20 competitions is it's very individual, each individual player has the opportunity to make his own decision, and I think the T20 in Australia has been outstanding," Clarke said. "For me, I think I made the right decision to stand down from T20 cricket internationally at the time, to be able to focus on my one-day cricket and Test cricket. I really thought I had to improve my game, to try to become the player I want to be, to become the best player I can possibly be.

"I think that time, whether it be four or five days to be able to work on Test cricket before we travel and play a Test match [has been helpful]. I don't know what my results say, my statistics over the last 12 months, but I feel my game is in a better place now than it was 12 months ago, that's for sure."

Clarke's batting and captaincy have been given valuable time to breathe by his absence from T20, both internationally and in the domestic Big Bash League. That time allows Clarke, as captain a man with many responsibilities and distractions, the chance to look after his own game.

"The reality is as a player you need to perform, if you don't perform you're not in the team, and it's no different whether you're captain or not … I learned that the hard way when I got dropped," Clarke said. "My focus my whole career has been winning games of cricket, the teams winning whether I was a player, vice-captain or now captain, so I don't think that's changed, my attitude towards that hasn't changed.

"There's enough time in a day in my opinion to look after your own individual preparation and make sure everyone in the team is fully prepared and ready to go. It takes a lot of help from all the people around me, all the support staff, the coach and the rest of my team. I'm lucky in this team that I have some senior players that help me out a lot, and I have some young players that are really keen to learn and improve.

"This whole team in my opinion is heading in the right direction. We have a lot of work to do but we're heading in the right direction and I'm just enjoying the opportunity to lead so many good young players."

As captain and T20 retiree, Clarke has now compiled 819 runs at 68.25 with four centuries. The tally is swelled greatly by his Sydney effort, but greater responsibility and presence has been evident in innings played on a wide variety of surfaces, from the Galle dustbowl to the Cape Town green top.

"[Captaincy has] probably put a bit of extra responsibility on me, but I don't feel like I've changed my game," Clarke said. "I guess what I've worked on over the last 12 months is really trying hard to improve my game, facing our bowlers in the nets with brand new balls to improve my technique, my defence. Facing a lot of spin on unprepared wickets, to improve my play against spin for when we travel to the subcontinent.

"So I just think and hope my game is improving. That's been my goal for a long time now, to become the best player I can be, and I certainly don't think one innings determines whether your game's improved or not. I think the last 12 months in every part, getting fit, getting strong, getting my back right and training hard in the nets, that's a reward for the work I've put in."

As for the magnitude of what he achieved in Sydney, Clarke said he may not fully grasp it until he retires. In cricket's endless 21st century cycle of matches and tours, a moment's reflection can be hard to come by.

"I don't think it does until you've retired to be honest, until your career's come to an end," he said. "I got asked the same question about my Test debut, and until this day I don't think I've ever stopped and looked at my debut and thought, 'how did I play and how special was that'. It's exciting at the time, don't get me wrong, but this Test match I'm very proud of the achievement of being able to bat for a long period of time, and the runs took care of themselves I guess.

"I don't think I'll ever look back on it until my career's ended. I'm most pleased as to my personal performance, just being able to make runs and contribute in this series. It's a huge series for this team, the first series I've been full-time captain in Australia, in front of my fans and the Australian public, and it is important that I stood up."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 8, 2012, 18:52 GMT

    BTW, don't degrade Michael Clarke's effort by talking about T20s and how he 'relinquished' it. He was not taken seriously in T20 and so he had no choice. Clarke deserves all the praise for what he is doing in the ongoing series. So, don't dilute his present achievements by mixing up with some non-existent stories. Thanks to one and all.

  • AidanFX on January 8, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    Clarke was never any good at the format anyway (great at 50 over cricket) - although he captained the team well in the WC; without contributing much batting wise

  • on January 8, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    England would still destroy Australia and India over and over again

  • Meety on January 8, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    @Kavindeven - I suppose the point is that everyone knows he could of got the first ever test 500!

  • RandyOZ on January 8, 2012, 5:25 GMT

    Clarke cares about Australia, which is why he quit T20s, warner should do the same. Look whats happened to India due to the IPL, they rubbish!

  • VivGilchrist on January 8, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    What sacrifice? He was rubbish at T20 cricket anyway. He actually did himself and everyone watching a favor by giving it away. Tests are his game and so it proves. Horses for courses in all 3 formats I say.

  • raveekoomar on January 7, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    SCRAP IPL NO NEED OF ANYMORE SACRIFICES.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 7, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    From an Indian here: Michael Clarke = RESPECT. With his impeccable behaviour, both as a player and as a Captain, he simply overtook Mr. Cricket as well in my books. Never did I feel this amount of RESPECT for an Aussie Captain. In fact, my dislike of Aussie Captains started with Steve Waugh. Before anybody brushes aside my dislike as jealousy born out of Aussie's dominance and all that troll, it helps you all to realise that my RESPECT for Clarke has started when Australia is dominating us right now, as we speak. RESPECT for the way he is carrying himself and the way he is making sure that his team mates will behave, UNLIKE the thuggish behaviour that took a whole new definition under Steve Waugh. I now have at least 3 players in the Aussie team whom I RESPECT - Ponting, Hussey and MICHAEL CLARKE. Take a bow! Thank you Michael Clarke for showing the way for other Captains and Players across the world to emulate. Absolutely no words. You want RESPECT? You've earned every bit of it!

  • aqwsde on January 7, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    This is what make Clark a great player.if u want to be a great cricketer, then look at him-do not run for money playing T20 like Gayle. if u want to make money - join business ,do not play cricket.

  • Aodaliya2 on January 7, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    I'm starting to wonder if the poor batting form of Ponting, Clarke, Huss, actually most of the team over the past two years is directly related to the fact that our bowlers were bowling very badly and so these blokes were not getting good practice day in day out in the nets. It really appears that since Craig McDermott has started to improve the bowlers and a couple of a good young guns have come through that our batting has improved. No practice is better than bad practice, just a thought.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 8, 2012, 18:52 GMT

    BTW, don't degrade Michael Clarke's effort by talking about T20s and how he 'relinquished' it. He was not taken seriously in T20 and so he had no choice. Clarke deserves all the praise for what he is doing in the ongoing series. So, don't dilute his present achievements by mixing up with some non-existent stories. Thanks to one and all.

  • AidanFX on January 8, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    Clarke was never any good at the format anyway (great at 50 over cricket) - although he captained the team well in the WC; without contributing much batting wise

  • on January 8, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    England would still destroy Australia and India over and over again

  • Meety on January 8, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    @Kavindeven - I suppose the point is that everyone knows he could of got the first ever test 500!

  • RandyOZ on January 8, 2012, 5:25 GMT

    Clarke cares about Australia, which is why he quit T20s, warner should do the same. Look whats happened to India due to the IPL, they rubbish!

  • VivGilchrist on January 8, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    What sacrifice? He was rubbish at T20 cricket anyway. He actually did himself and everyone watching a favor by giving it away. Tests are his game and so it proves. Horses for courses in all 3 formats I say.

  • raveekoomar on January 7, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    SCRAP IPL NO NEED OF ANYMORE SACRIFICES.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 7, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    From an Indian here: Michael Clarke = RESPECT. With his impeccable behaviour, both as a player and as a Captain, he simply overtook Mr. Cricket as well in my books. Never did I feel this amount of RESPECT for an Aussie Captain. In fact, my dislike of Aussie Captains started with Steve Waugh. Before anybody brushes aside my dislike as jealousy born out of Aussie's dominance and all that troll, it helps you all to realise that my RESPECT for Clarke has started when Australia is dominating us right now, as we speak. RESPECT for the way he is carrying himself and the way he is making sure that his team mates will behave, UNLIKE the thuggish behaviour that took a whole new definition under Steve Waugh. I now have at least 3 players in the Aussie team whom I RESPECT - Ponting, Hussey and MICHAEL CLARKE. Take a bow! Thank you Michael Clarke for showing the way for other Captains and Players across the world to emulate. Absolutely no words. You want RESPECT? You've earned every bit of it!

  • aqwsde on January 7, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    This is what make Clark a great player.if u want to be a great cricketer, then look at him-do not run for money playing T20 like Gayle. if u want to make money - join business ,do not play cricket.

  • Aodaliya2 on January 7, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    I'm starting to wonder if the poor batting form of Ponting, Clarke, Huss, actually most of the team over the past two years is directly related to the fact that our bowlers were bowling very badly and so these blokes were not getting good practice day in day out in the nets. It really appears that since Craig McDermott has started to improve the bowlers and a couple of a good young guns have come through that our batting has improved. No practice is better than bad practice, just a thought.

  • ABP235 on January 7, 2012, 3:05 GMT

    This is why all Indian supporters should support Michael Clarke and shun all those Indians who are only bothered about the money generated from IPL and this joker version of cricket called T20. Our Indian cricketers, Dhoni in leadership role for this, dive deep into the IPL and due to which are unable to lift themselves when the real version confronts them. Whereas Pup has shown his devotion for the real version and his commitment for his country. After that great knock couple of months back in South Africa, he has now hit a triple ton (where he sacrificed a chance of scoring a 400 which was quite easy considering that India had thrown in the towel already) and I am looking forward to more of such big knocks in the remaining tests & the ensuing ODI tri-series.

  • on January 7, 2012, 1:15 GMT

    I think clark over-estimated Gods, Walls and blah blah, could have score 400 easily, Silly boy

  • TheLoneStranger on January 7, 2012, 0:59 GMT

    We still have the nation's best opener waiting in the wings. Will the selectors ever acknowledge that? Marsh has been retained for Perth, presumably because it's his home track, but if he fails again, "Kat" MUST be brought back. The fact is, he should have played this double series from the outset, but no-one of influence had the integrity or courage to admit it and recall him. Not sure why Haddin's been retained, either. Here's a team for Adelaide, subject to form and fitness: Watson, Katich, Warner, Cowan, Clarke, Ponting, Hussey, Townsend, Harris, Siddle, Starc, (Lyon 12th man). Warner and Clarke are more than capable of bowling some quality leg-spin. The Indians have proven since time immemorial that they can play off-spin with their eyes closed, as has been proven in the last two tests, so Lyon should be stood down until the next series.

  • Ms.Cricket on January 7, 2012, 0:22 GMT

    Good on you Michael Clarke! Many modern day cricketers should learn from his example!

  • popcorn on January 6, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    Try telling the Indians this. For their cricketers AND their Cricket Board,AND their Selectors,money from T20 IPL comes first.Then Cricket.

  • kool_Indian on January 6, 2012, 21:45 GMT

    Mr. Daniel and clarke - being in denial and lying doesn't help much. We all know that Michael Clarke is terrible in T20's. When he wanted a million dollar contract in IPL, then IPL commissioner just laughed at him. This was told by none other than Mathew Hayden. Don't hush up the things to praise the well deserved innings. He is a good one day and test player but a terrible terrible T20 player. And also - stop saying T20 game is not a team just because he cannot adapt himself, it is as much a team game as ODIs and Tests - just that it is fast paced and has more intensity. We love all forms of the game and Sachin, Kallis, etc have already proved that one master all forms if they got enough skills/talent. Hope to see this comment published by Cricinfo - Thanks!

  • kool_Indian on January 6, 2012, 21:45 GMT

    Mr. Daniel and clarke - being in denial and lying doesn't help much. We all know that Michael Clarke is terrible in T20's. When he wanted a million dollar contract in IPL, then IPL commissioner just laughed at him. This was told by none other than Mathew Hayden. Don't hush up the things to praise the well deserved innings. He is a good one day and test player but a terrible terrible T20 player. And also - stop saying T20 game is not a team just because he cannot adapt himself, it is as much a team game as ODIs and Tests - just that it is fast paced and has more intensity. We love all forms of the game and Sachin, Kallis, etc have already proved that one master all forms if they got enough skills/talent. Hope to see this comment published by Cricinfo - Thanks!

  • Beertjie on January 6, 2012, 20:50 GMT

    Well done, MC. I was one who didn't think you had it in you and I'm thrilled you proved me wrong. I guess that private gym work and mental prep helped you a lot. Have a great 2012 and a greater 2013!

  • on January 6, 2012, 17:56 GMT

    In todays times, the captain is certainly inspiring and leading from the front! Hard to find such souls in a capitalised cricketing world...India should get whitewashed as a mark of respect to this man...

  • Rakim on January 6, 2012, 17:49 GMT

    I still remember 2/3 years ago when people said IPL would destroy Indian team, some people would bash them. WHERE ARE YOU IPL SUPPORTERS? :p

  • sachin_vvsfan on January 6, 2012, 17:26 GMT

    Funny how people attribute clarke scuccess to his absence in T20s. He was obviously helped by the pathetic bowling, poor fielding placements and home advantage. Didn't sehwag score 200 against WI at home in ODIS???

  • on January 6, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    oh oh oh so pontings or sachins didnt pay?

  • Romenevans on January 6, 2012, 16:05 GMT

    Take some time and play against stronger teams like England and SA, then we'll know how you have improved. Doing good against spineless Indian team won't prove anything. It is in India's DNA to make ordinary players look like legends. For instance Stuart broad was not even in squad before in last against India, he somehow managed to make in the 11 and look what we made him. He scored runs, took wicket and all of a sudden he was the man of the series LOL. So chill and have some time, and don't conclude anything, specially after playing against India. They are the worst test team.

  • skip1968 on January 6, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    Huge sacrifice giving up T20 internationals. This format will never be cherished by those who can prosper in the purest form of the game - test cricket.

  • NaniIndCri on January 6, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    I think Clarke's meant that player should have time to come to form, and he sacrificed T20's for that. There are many players that play all forms of game and play well. So the issue more lies in organization of games rather than the T20 game itself. If only the ICC can come up with reasonable schedules (by eliminating meaning less ODI's, including big bash, IPL etc in international calendar etc.). To suggest everyone should give up T20 to get into form is absolutely foolish.

  • Romenevans on January 6, 2012, 15:17 GMT

    Isnt he is speaking too much? Scoring a tripple tone against worls weakest bowling attack and a team who has no intensity, passion and eagerness to fight it out.

  • Rakim on January 6, 2012, 15:13 GMT

    +1 Michael Clarke. Putting his country first. There is no glory in an IPL title. A test match win > 3 years of IPL

  • mensan on January 6, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    india will do well in one-days and 20-20 matches.

  • raveekoomar on January 6, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    When will Sachin and Rahul Dravid realise it. Guess they want to earn just money before retiring. Poor chaps must be ruing the fact that wish T20 is played from 2000-01 onwards so that they could have become multi millionaires then itself and not now. Cant digest the fact that younger players got more vibes at discos and drinks than themselves. I dare repeat this Lara is far better the BEST BATSMAN than Tendulkar or Dravid or Ponting. He made 2 triple hundreds. Tendulkar CAN NEVER MAKE ONE. Never has he crossed 300 in his whole 22 years of experience. Lara atleast has one 501 to his credit in county. Tendulkar will never sacrifice his place Lara did. Sacrifice comes with a price the price of not eviction but conviction. The matter that someone young deserves better place than himself(whoever has to retire). The likes of Chateswar pujara, Rohit sharma, Badrinath, Manoj tiwary etc all are waiting for the past 2-3 years to get into the Indian team. They will mark a good entry atleast.

  • agamgoyal on January 6, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    Kudos to you Clarke ....but his work has just started ...he still have to build the team ..as two best batsmen Ponting and Hussey will soon retire ...and no fixed openers as if yet ...and spinners are also in short supply ...so lot to think about and work upon ...But i am really impressed by the way he is rebuilding the team ..I am die hard fan of Indian Cricket team ...but i am not surprised to see our teams condition ...as I somehow sensed the Dhoni's luck will run out some day ....now indeed it has ...but i am rather sorry because we have a still better leader and fighter in our team in Gambhir but he wont get his chance to captain ...Rather more sorry about the younger blood as nobody seems to have the ability to lift this team ...I dont believe in predictions but i still feel Australia will rise to no. 1 position soon ...and India will battling with NewZealnad ,Windies and Bangladesh in the rankings ....Again Kudos to Clarke ..and his transformational leadership ...cheers man

  • raveekoomar on January 6, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    If only the Indian older players like Dravid Sachin took this decision it would have being much wiser for them as well. Alas they want just money. ICL was the solution when it started not IPL. Not that am a fan of ICL but something was started by someone the board should have given the go ahead. No excuses now from the Indian board for the demolition in ths present Aussie tour. Unless of course the Indian team takes the well deserved one week break and start afresh for perth and take inspiration from last series win there, and then Adeladide from 2003 series, we can still make it 2-2. Hope its hopefull and the Indian team makes rapid strides with so much less time, and given their limited resources.

  • Gillys_club on January 6, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    It's for their own good that the likes of Murali Vijay, Kohli, Mukund et al, who have big ambitions in Test Cricket try and curtail their participation in the IPL circus...

  • scorpionsXI on January 6, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    Great effort clarky boy ! You have come of age.

  • santhoshabraham on January 6, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    I am an Indian Fan and have learnt a lot from Clarke, he is certainly the man. He has taught me about what it means to handle pressure, the importance of prioritisation and also about leadership. His decision to put the team first before his own personal records is outstanding to say the least. Santhosh (Edinburgh)

  • on January 6, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    The truth is he can't Play T20 Hahaha!

  • pradeepbhat on January 6, 2012, 11:00 GMT

    now that he has scored a triple ton and won the match all sort of reasons will be given for his success..Wouldnot be surprised if his being named Clark was the reason for his superman success!!!! Hasnt hussey too scored a big ton even with playing T20..hypocritic elites

  • ajayrcs on January 6, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    Everyone remember only good thing of this match but don't forget the bads like openning three batsmen got out cheaply, Pattinson out of series, Siddle with a nigel.

  • on January 6, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    You stood VERY TALL Captain MJ Clarke!

  • A.Ak on January 6, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    Clarke worked on his game, he is more matured than he was 12 months ago. NOT because of ignoring t20. May be to a point, t20 makes a player to play shot every ball and ignoring the instinct of staying long. the judgment of leaving a good and playing only bad balls are not a part of T20. Thats all down to the player, not the format. We can see Dravid, Sachin or Kallis are all playing well in T20, of course if we cant compare the strike rate of these with likes of Pollard or YPathan. But the consistency comes totally by the individual talent and how they adopt.

  • shuvo_bba on January 6, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    Clarke was simply perfect in this test match. He has proved his natural captaincy ability by not loosing any series under his captaincy belt and sacrificed individual attainments for the priority of his team. He deserves respect from every end. I just want to remember one thing said by PUP: "We set out to win every game"

  • on January 6, 2012, 10:30 GMT

    veryy good captain and he able to create greatness.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on January 6, 2012, 10:30 GMT

    veryy good captain and he able to create greatness.

  • shuvo_bba on January 6, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    Clarke was simply perfect in this test match. He has proved his natural captaincy ability by not loosing any series under his captaincy belt and sacrificed individual attainments for the priority of his team. He deserves respect from every end. I just want to remember one thing said by PUP: "We set out to win every game"

  • A.Ak on January 6, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    Clarke worked on his game, he is more matured than he was 12 months ago. NOT because of ignoring t20. May be to a point, t20 makes a player to play shot every ball and ignoring the instinct of staying long. the judgment of leaving a good and playing only bad balls are not a part of T20. Thats all down to the player, not the format. We can see Dravid, Sachin or Kallis are all playing well in T20, of course if we cant compare the strike rate of these with likes of Pollard or YPathan. But the consistency comes totally by the individual talent and how they adopt.

  • on January 6, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    You stood VERY TALL Captain MJ Clarke!

  • ajayrcs on January 6, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    Everyone remember only good thing of this match but don't forget the bads like openning three batsmen got out cheaply, Pattinson out of series, Siddle with a nigel.

  • pradeepbhat on January 6, 2012, 11:00 GMT

    now that he has scored a triple ton and won the match all sort of reasons will be given for his success..Wouldnot be surprised if his being named Clark was the reason for his superman success!!!! Hasnt hussey too scored a big ton even with playing T20..hypocritic elites

  • on January 6, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    The truth is he can't Play T20 Hahaha!

  • santhoshabraham on January 6, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    I am an Indian Fan and have learnt a lot from Clarke, he is certainly the man. He has taught me about what it means to handle pressure, the importance of prioritisation and also about leadership. His decision to put the team first before his own personal records is outstanding to say the least. Santhosh (Edinburgh)

  • scorpionsXI on January 6, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    Great effort clarky boy ! You have come of age.

  • Gillys_club on January 6, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    It's for their own good that the likes of Murali Vijay, Kohli, Mukund et al, who have big ambitions in Test Cricket try and curtail their participation in the IPL circus...