Michael Clarke gets a lot of flack from fans.
Some of it is warranted, some of it is not, some of it is from me, some of it is not.
In his career he has been the dominating superboy, the man afraid of being dropped, a batsman capable of long innings when not under pressure and now the automaton of batting.
Through all these periods in his life, one thing seems to have remained the same, the boy goes out right before the break of play, a lot. About two years ago it was made a big deal by the press, then it died down, perhaps it went away, perhaps no one cared anymore.
Well it happened today, and I think people cared.
I’m not nerdy or bored enough to look it up, but it happens a lot.
Today Australia had done what they needed to do, built a base and hoped that the ball spinning viciously would miss the stumps.
They didn’t panic, or worry too much when England were bowling well. They just batted, for the draw, for the time, for the rain.
It isn’t the most masculine of pursuits but when the opposition has bent you over for three days of the test, there is little else you can do.
Clarke did this better than any other Australian. His batting was the best of his three ashes innings, because he didn’t look like his back was a solid steel rod and he didn’t play a slips practice drive.
He made runs, he kept out the good balls and together with Hussey built a draw making platform for Australia.
Then he went out.
Not to anyone, but to a man with four test wickets before that moment.
Not at anytime, but with four balls left in the day.
Australian fans are wild angry dogs, on a good day. Most of them will be so pissed off they won’t have even seen beyond those two points, but it goes further.
Marcus North now has to start tomorrow with four balls from the deadly KP, and then get through the new ball, being the great starter he is, that might not be that easy.
Clarke has picked the worst possible time to go out, as if he did so just for shits and giggles. Like interrupting a fight for a while, then pissing off just when it might be about to start off again.
You might think that if he failed to score more than five game after game that would be worse. It wouldn’t be, because those sort of failures will even get you dropped from the Australian team.
His kind of failures come on the back of a good or at least average test match innings, but they give the opposition the biggest boost imaginable, without any chance of him ever being dropped.
They are also the very opposite of a captain’s innings, he is like some evil anti-captain who does everything he can to make the team think he is helping them only to Judas all over them at the last minute. He’s probably a double agent, and he’s infiltrated the ranks for years just to routinely scuttle Australia’s best laid plans. And for the chicks.
This won’t end. Everything in Clarke’s life seems to change, but not this. I’m sure that when he was born it was inconvenient, perhaps his father was just about to go to the footy, and then he got the call, or maybe it was the day that his mother and father had tickets to the Saints.
He shall just forever be this way, it’s bred into him.
One day, Lara Bingle might be more loved in Australia than Clarke, because at least she was dismissed at the right time.