Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Pup

Michael Clarke has been inspirational in the last week. In a week that has been truly horrendous for cricket fans worldwide, he has shone like a beacon of light and has gone from being merely a cricket captain to being an inspirational leader. As a friend of mine said, he didn't hide behind a Press Officer or a Communications bod, he came right out there and said it. And for that, he deserves credit.

A true leader
If truth be told, I have never particularly warmed to Michael Clarke. Harsh perhaps, but I think that was the view of many Englishmen up until last week. He is the captain of the Australian cricket team after all, so there is one justifiable reason, but his "broken arm" rhetoric last year and a host of other issues made me think that he was flash, aloof and in a way, un Australian. Now that, is one thing an Aussie hates being called. Plus, he was a bloody good bat and the scourge of England. The tattoos didn't help, plus he always had a decent bit of skirt on the go, the lucky sod. Skippering them to a whitewash on the unhappiest tour of all time, it was bloody Clarke's fault. England being shit and self imploding? Clarke's fault. Cook being outplayed by his opposite number? Yep, blame Pup. Mitchell Johnson bouncing English batsmen out every ten minutes? You guessed it. Swann retiring, Trott departing, rows in the dressing room. Bloody Clarke.

However, the last week has changed my opinion of the man. After the sad passing of Phil Hughes, Clarke stood up and was counted. He showed emotion, he showed he was a man, and most of all, he showed he was an inspirational leader and one that all of Australia should be proud of.


Pup is now a man

Pup, or more Big Dog these days gave a speech within hours of the news. The eyes of the world were on him, and how difficult that must have been is beyond words. Cricket is a game that is played over a long period of time. It is a game where you are away with your team mates for long periods (just ask your missus!) and therefore it is a sport that fosters amazing friendships. Bonds are built, often lifetime friendships and close allies exist in every dressing room across the world.

So when one of your own gets taken suddenly, unexpectedly and undeservedly as Hughes did, to get up and make a speech showed some real balls. I was upset enough and have never met the guy. Yet Clarke had played numerous Test, One Day, T20 and State games with Philip Hughes and still had the courage to lead from the front. Emotional, he walked out out of the press conference but to even do that, raised him hugely in the eyes of cricket fans. The dignity he has shown has been immense.

Another man who the eyes of the world have all be steeling themselves upon is Sean Abbott, the poor 21 year old who bowled the ball. Sean, just doing his job must be in absolute bits at present and will no doubt need counselling to get him through this horrendous chapter in his life. Whether he ever plays again, who knows? However, who was there for him? Pup.

Sean Abbott...the whole cricket world is behind him

This is what he said this week, "Sean, when you feel like getting back on the horse mate, I promise you that I will be the first one to strap on the pads, go and stand at the end of the net and hit them back at you. It is exactly what Hugh Dog would want us both to do". Inspirational stuff.

The next few weeks, maybe even months will be hard for cricketers. Australia look after their own, and in Michael Clarke they have a leader who has stood up and been counted and for that he has my every respect. A fine leader on the pitch, he has proved himself to be a brilliant leader off the pitch.

There is no better man to stand up in a crisis. No longer Pup, he is now the main man. And for that, he deserves a lot of credit.

My view of him has most certainly changed.

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