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Michael John Clarke

03 August, 2006

Michael Clarke already boasts a possibly unique claim to fame in Australian cricketing folklore: he was anointed as his country's next captain before he'd played a single Test.

Full name: Michael John Clarke

Date of Birth:April 2, 1981

Place of Birth:Liverpool, New South Wales

Major teams: Australia, Hampshire, New South Wales

Nickname: Pup

Playing role: Lower middle order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Slow left-arm orthodox

Height: 1.82 m

Career statistics :

 Test debut:  India v Australia at Bangalore - Oct 6-10, 2004  

ODI debut : Australia v England at Adelaide - Jan 19, 2003 

Twenty20 Int. debut:  New Zealand v Australia at Auckland - Feb 17, 2005 

First-class span:  1999/00 - 2005/06

List A span:  2000/01 - 2005/06

Twenty20 span:  2004 - 2005/06

Awards:

Allan Border Medal 2005

Profile:

When he made his debut and a thrilling 151 against India at Bangalore his future looked even brighter than the yellow motorbike he received as the Man of the Match. The amazing ride continued with another stunning century on his home welcome at the Gabba, and his first Test season ended with the Allan Border Medal. Then came the fall.

Barely a year after his debut he was scuffing his feet around Hobart's Bellerive Oval while receiving a call from Trevor Hohns that ended his starburst at 20 Tests. A streak of 531 runs without a century through series against Pakistan, New Zealand, England, the World XI, and West Indies led to his demotion and a desire "to tighten his technique", especially in the early stages against the swinging ball. An unbeaten 201 for New South Wales in the Pura Cup was a brave and swift response, but while he remained a one-day fixture he had to wait until the low-key series against Bangladesh to reclaim his Test place. Three muted innings forced him and his supporters to look to the Ashes - and opponents who successfully restricted his output in 2005 - to re-determine his international worth.

Until his sacking he was a ravishing shotmaker with an unshakeable temperament. He did not so much take guard as take off. His arrival was typically the cue for a string of wristy, audacious flashes through the offside. All the while he radiated a pointy-elbowed elegance reminiscent of a young Greg Chappell or Mark Waugh, who, like Clarke, waited long and uncomplainingly for a Test opening and then marked the occasion with a century. Unlike Chappell and Waugh, who learned the ropes in domestic and county cricket, Clarke cut his teeth in Australia's one-day side. His impact in pyjamas was startling: he racked up 208 runs in four games before he was finally dismissed, and after 82 matches averages in the mid-40s at a strike-rate hovering in the mid-80s. His bouncy fielding and searing run-outs, usually from square of the wicket, add to his run-value, while his left-arm tweakers cajole important breakthroughs, and they also dropped six surprised Indians in the second innings of his fourth Test at Mumbai.

A cricket nut since he was in nappies, Clarke honed his technique against the bowling machine at his dad's indoor centre. Affably down-to-earth, he is meticulous about his hair - it is blond and always looks freshly showered - and adores fast cars. He is proudly patriotic too, wearing an Australian flag on the back of his bat, and before he played a Test he signed a record-breaking A$1.25million deal with Dunlop-Slazenger. "On captaining Australia, I'd love to," he commented early in 2004. "It's another goal and something I'll have to work hard for." He worked hard for his first Test hundred, but made it and the following one against New Zealand look stunningly easy. A future star transformed into a genuine one, but two seasons later he is working on regaining his status as the country's golden boy.


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