New Zealand v Australia, 1st Test, Wellington March 17, 2010

Clarke breaks silence and is ready for Test


Michael Clarke has spoken publicly for the first time since his sudden departure from Australia's tour and his subsequent break-up with Lara Bingle. Clarke fronted a packed media conference at Wellington's Westpac Stadium, where he mentioned the support he had received from Shane Warne and insisted the media frenzy following him and his former fiancée would not affect the focus on his cricket.

"I have spoken to Warney," Clarke said. "I've spoken to a lot of my friends and my family. He's been a wonderful friend of mine for a long time and he was excited to see me back in New Zealand and wished me all the best for Friday's Test match."

Clarke made a hasty exit during Australia's one-day series when he flew back to Sydney to deal with his relationship issues, which were followed intensely by the Australian tabloid press. About 30 members of the media, some of whom will return home before the Test begins, surrounded Clarke but he said he was solely concentrating on preparing for the game.

"I made the decision firstly to go home but then to come back to New Zealand knowing that there was a big Test match starting on Friday," he said. "I knew I'd be capable to get up for that. Preparation has been very important to me throughout my whole career and it's no different now. Yesterday it was important to get back in the nets and have a good bat, see that red ball."

Being back in the team environment will no doubt be a welcome change for Clarke, who over the past week and a half has woken to see photographers and TV cameras trained in on his Sydney apartment, waiting for any glimpse of him or Bingle. Clarke said he never expected there would be so much interest in his personal life but accepted it was an inevitable part of being a high-profile sportsman.

"It's part of what we do," Clarke said. "Being a professional athlete it's not just about what you do on the field it's what you do off the field as well. We have to accept that and for me it was important to do what I had to do in my personal life and it's important for me now to be back with my team-mates and make sure I'm concentrating on playing a Test match for Australia.

"[Going home] was obviously something that I thought was very important and needed to be done and I did that. My team-mates were fantastic and very supportive. Cricket Australia, the ACA, all my friends and family have been wonderful. That's obviously why I'm back here now, trying to get out there on Friday and perform in Australia."

Clarke said he would "have to wait and see" if his opponents tried to distract him from the game with a few personal sledges come Friday. The New Zealand fast bowler Chris Martin said on Tuesday that he hoped the players would treat Clarke with respect, but Clarke expected at least the crowd at the Basin Reserve would get stuck in to him.

"I'm sure I'll get a little bit of stick [from the crowd] but I don't mind that," Clarke said. "No matter where you go around the world, every country wants their team to win and do well, so we'll wait and see what happens on Friday but I don't think that will affect me too much.

"I've copped a fair bit of sledging in my time, whether it be about stuff on the field or off the field. We'll just have to wait and see [if the players will sledge]. But I have the utmost respect for the New Zealand guys and I'm sure they're the same so we'll play it by ear, but I'm sure it won't affect me."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shafraz on March 22, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    the freedom of speech is always overlooked!pup's tricks on the field are nothing to be reflected over his personal life...sum stupid comments for sure by some readers.pup has always been a strong sporting character and some of the magical wins aussies acheived were fully crafted by clarke.we just hope hope he does even better in cricket and in his life.good luck pup!

  • David on March 18, 2010, 11:35 GMT

    Do I hear right? Do I hear the aussies expect clarke / pup not to be sledged in spite of his poor choice in women? I say sledge the sledgers. Chirp the chirpers. They admit they will never stop harassing the opposition players and they expect mercy for this pup? I say give him and them a dose of their own medicine. Push them till they want to assault you with a bat. That's what they dish out and that's what they should expect. No mercy on pup. Harass him to the hilt. Test his ability to handle being harassed. Come on! You dish it out, you can take it, right?

  • Kartik on March 18, 2010, 4:40 GMT

    Who cares about Bingle and him being single? Anyone checked out his ODI and test averages this season? Not quite a vice captain's deliverables. Over rated cricketer with too much hype. Definitely not in Ponting's league as a batsman and light years away from Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor as a leader.

  • Wanderer on March 18, 2010, 1:12 GMT

    Don't worry Clarkey, plenty more Sheila's in the sea.

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2010, 0:36 GMT

    cricinfo is turning into a gossip news site instead of sports news ...and yaa forgot to mention supporting the biggest match fixing event in the history of nice..

  • Rahul on March 17, 2010, 20:19 GMT

    Why cricinfo is giving so much of importance to Clarke's personal life, he is just ordinary cricketer. I believe cricinfo should put more emphasis on AUS-NZ test series, that is where action lies.

  • Anantha on March 17, 2010, 19:00 GMT

    Agree with Ananthu.. Aussies are the biggest hypocrites when it comes to on field behavior. I hope Clarke gets sledged by every team.

  • Ant on March 17, 2010, 17:46 GMT

    Look forward to Pup's batting average going up now :)

  • Douglas on March 17, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    some bloggers are just over the top. It is their view or everyone else is off base. Michael Clarke has dealt with a difficult personal matter as discreetly as he was allowed to. Cricinfo reported it as simply as they could. Clarke has not whinged for sympathy, he wants to get on with his game. But some bloggers want to make an issue or complain. The world is the world, no changing it. Good luck mate, just do your best.

  • Vama on March 17, 2010, 12:45 GMT

    aussies are the best... no matter what happens in their personal life they try and don't let those issues reflect upon their and the team's performance and as far as michael clarke is concerned i guess he'll do very well. i just wish all players good luck for the upcoming test and also the future matches. just do well....all the best

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