|Full Name||Michael John Clarke|
|Born||April 2, 1981 Liverpool, New South Wales|
|Age||41 Years, 11 Months, 27 Days|
|Batting Style||Right Handed|
|Bowling||Slow left-arm orthodox|
|Teams Played||Australia, Australia A, Hampshire, New South Wales, Australia Under-19, Pune Warriors India, Sydney Thunder|
Michael Clarke, also fondly known as 'Pup' started out fairly early in cricket, making his debut for New South Wales at the tender age of 18. Paltry scores notwithstanding, Clarke’s debut was deemed good enough to earn him a scholarship from the Australian Cricket Academy and he went on to captain Australia’s Under-19 team. After slamming two consecutive centuries for NSW in 2002, he was selected for Australia A's tour to England. Claiming the second-best average in the consequent South African tour, he became a hot topic for discussion in cricketing circles.
With the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup just around the corner, Australia chose to experiment and Clarke was handed his ODI debut. He responded to the call with an unbeaten 39 helping Australia beat England by four wickets. Clarke displayed exemplary technique and seemed to enjoy himself on the big stage, which was uncharacteristic of someone who was barely finding his feet in international cricket. With consistent performances in ODIs, he finally earned his Test call-up in an away series to India in 2004. Pup couldn’t have asked for a tougher litmus test with Australia in a spot of bother at 4-149, with a vociferous crowd egging on the Indian team to go for the kill. But he relished the opportunity, scoring a brilliant 151 on debut to earn the Man of the Match award. He played a crucial role with both bat and ball and helped Australia achieve a series win on Indian soil in over 30 years. His dream start continued as he slammed another hundred against New Zealand in Brisbane and was touted as Australia’s future batting superstar. In recognition of his performance in the 2004 calendar year, he was awarded the Allan Border Medal in 2005.
However, after that dream start, Clarke suffered a dip in form, especially in the Ashes. 2005 was a year where he struggled and after not scoring a Test ton in almost a year, he was dropped from the Test squad. Clarke though was a tough nut and would not be broken down so easily. He piled up runs in the domestic circuit and in ODIs which resulted in him being recalled for the tour of South Africa. In the 2006 Ashes, Clarke scored tons in the second and third Tests which cemented his place in the Test team. He enjoyed an excellent World Cup in 2007 as Australia retained the crown as the best in the world.
An excellent fielder and a useful left-arm spinner, Clarke’s meteoric rise continued as he was elected as the vice-captain of the national side in 2008 following the retirement of Adam Gilchrist. After Australia’s dream of a fourth successive World Cup victory was shattered by India in the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, Ricky Ponting stepped down from captaincy. Clarke was immediately named Australia’s full-time captain in ODIs and Tests. However, he gave up T20Is to concentrate on longer formats.
Michael Clarke broke a 76-year old record for an Australian captain to score a triple century at home in Tests when he scored 329* against India at the SCG in 2012. He went on to have a fabulous year ahead, becoming the only Test batsman to score four double centuries in a calendar year – a world record on its own!
Clarke was signed by Pune Warriors for the fifth season of the Indian T20 League but was ruled out due to injury the following year. One of the best players of spin bowling, Clarke was the cornerstone of the Australian side after the retirement of Ponting and his desire to improve at each and every stage of his career, as a player and a captain, did wonders to the national side. However, that desire to improve was not matched by other teammates and his captaincy came in for some severe criticism. Several of his teammates criticized his captaincy. Mitchell Johnson described the team atmosphere as 'toxic' under his captaincy, while Michael Hussey described the dressing room as 'stressful' and 'tense'. Several former players including John Buchanan, Andrew Symonds, Matthew Hayden, and Simon Katich spoke against his captaincy.
After having survived a torrid summer in 2014-15 which began with the passing away of fellow compatriot Phillip Hughes, Michael Clarke fought his way through, combating a career-threatening back injury. He, however, fought like a warrior and saw Australia through to their fifth World Cup title and called it quits from ODI cricket after the dream was achieved. He handed the leadership duties to Steven Smith, who was widely touted as the one to take over the reins from Clarke once he retired. Clarke retired from all forms of cricket later that year as he lost the Ashes again in England.