The Ashes: Michael Clarke Gets The Win, Not The Urn
Michael Clarke's career came to a bittersweet end. He did get a win at the Oval, but he had to relinquish the Ashes urn.
The curtain came down on Michael Clarke's 12-year career on Sunday. The man who led the Australian team for four years walked into the sunset on Sunday. (Australia Demolish England in Clarke's Final Test)
He couldn't leave with the Ashes urn safely tucked away in an Aussie cabinet, but he has left behind a legacy that will be remembered. (England Future Excites Cook)
Australian great Glenn McGrath told NDTV, "He (Clarke) has gone out on his own terms and that is the way Michael Clarke is. He likes to be in control and he has finished on his own terms and good luck to him."
He couldn't control the outcome of the Ashes series, but he did finish on his own terms. Deciding to quit, not just as captain, but as player too after England stunned the Aussies in the Ashes.
The 34 year old didn't mince his words in the post match interview after the Oval Test, saying, "I certainly didn't think I would play this long with my body. I am blessed to have played as much as I have."
A chronic back injury though was not the only obstacle for him in his career.
Over the years, Michael Clarke had to overcome many a hurdle. He wasn't initially seen by the Aussie public as a home grown hero. He was booed by Aussie fans. His personal life was often judged.
He had run-ins with his team-mates. Andrew Symonds went from best friend to foe. Simon Katich grabbed him by his throat at the SCG in an ugly locker room bust-up in 2009.
But Clarke wanted to be ranked amongst the greats and he continued to show that he had the heart for it. Clarke batting with a broken arm vs South Africa in 2014 showed what he was made of.
The question that will be asked now is, how highly will Clarke be rated as a modern Aussie captain. Also, how much has his legacy been affected due to the way Australia relinquished the urn?
Sir Vivian Richards told NDTV, "He (Clarke) would rank, in my opinion,with any of the Australian captains who have gone by in the past. There isn't any serious comparison, but then when a guy loses and especially with how both the countries feel about the Ashes, some folks were a little bit hard where Michael is concerned. They did not remember all the good stuff."
The good stuff hasn't been highlighted recently, but the list is quite impressive. Under Clarke's leadership, Australia won 24 of 47 Tests, had one 5-0 win in the Ashes and won a World Cup title. He finished with 28 Test centuries, 9 more than former captain and Aussie great Mark Taylor.
McGrath told NDTV, "Michael Clarke has been a quality batsman for a long, long time for Australia. He has done a great job as captain. I remember back then, when he scored a 150 in his first Test at Bangalore, and he has just gone on to score some big hundreds, double hundreds, triple hundreds. At his best he was as good as it gets. He will be remembered for a long time. He will be missed by the Australian team."
Former Australian captain Ian Chappell in fact has said, "I'd place Clarke second only to Mark Taylor among Australia's recent captains when it came to tactical awareness."
The tragic death of his close friend Phil Hughes brought out the sensitive side of a man whose childhood idol ironically was the brash Michael Slater.
Michael Clarke. A man who wanted to be a great. A cricketer who almost achieved greatness.