From the tragic moment of Phil Hughes’s death by cricket ball bouncer, Michael Clarke became GOD. He dutifully, manfully and quite profoundly served as a grieving suffering god in the mourning ceremonies at Macksville, poignant moments that were beamed around the world. No quarrel here.
Clarke delivers eulogy for Hughes at Macksville
But he then deemed himself indispensable captain for the Australian team on the cricket field despite his lack of match practice and severe doubts about the capacity of his back (and its related extensions) to withstand the strains of the field. True, he had experienced this problem for years and managed it somehow; but doubts hung over his body’s capacity to overcome the problem.
The grief arising from Hughes’ untimely death and the sweeping media-pall coursing through the body of Australian cricket encouraged Clarke as well as Cricket Australia and many an Aussie cricket-fan to allow Heart and Sorrow to drown out Sense.
Michael Clarke became Captain God, the indispensable LEADER for the First Test at Adelaide. Cast aside the possibility of his being laid low with back or related — note that “related” — hamstring snap on Day One; … or the strong possibility of having that occur on Day 3 or 4. Nay, perish that thought. Cricket Australia and Darren Lehmann did not have the guts to lay down the sensible rule. They wanted a LEADER. So Clarke was allowed to play God — meaning that no other Aussie cricketer was deemed a man for a crisis. Haddin! Smith! Warner! Bailey! White! Voges! Surely, man-oh-man!!!!
The gods-up-above were kind to Clarke and Cricket Australia. They could have hamstrung him on Day One, leaving their team one batsman short. But they only struck him down on Day Five. By then he had contributed an invaluable and valiant century in the first innings and slowed down the scoring on Day Four as Australia attempted to build a sizeable total before declaring.
Australian cricket has a well-earned reputation for clinical, hard-headed thinking in its cricketing selections and policies, besides a more questionable drive that takes no prisoners. BUT, here, in December 2014 they permitted the waves of grief to dull their senses. Michael Clarke declared himself indispensable Captain God. The world of Aussie cricket did not arrest him, but went along ding-dong on a mournful high.
The price is now being paid. The gods-above are as just as they are sensible.
Pain: Michael Clarke appeared to have strained his hamstring on day five in Adelaide. Photo: AP