Sunday, January 19, 2003

Okay, as a further explanation of why the Australian cricket team are as successful as they are, take a look at the photograph that goes with this article . The picture is of 21 year old Michael Clarke , playing in his first game for Australia. It was not an important game: Australia had already qualified for the finals of the one-day tournament in question. And of course it is a one day game, and most players would rather play a test. Clarke has been mentioned a bit over the last few months as someone who would play for Australia sooner or later, but he was realistically third or fourth in the queue of batsmen waiting for a place in the side. However, Australia had qualified for the finals, and so a couple of players were rested for this game. On top of that, just to do his best to confirm various other stereotypes about Australian cricketers in the minds of foreigners everywhere, Darren Lehmann managed to get himself suspended for five games for racial insensitivity. So, Clarke was a last minute inclusion in the side. Like many people in Australia, Clarke has clearly dreamed of playing for Australia since he was about six years old, and consequently we get this photograph: Clarke out in the middle in front of a capacity crowd, playing England, looking at the peculiar yellow coloured cap that is part of the Australian one day team uniform, with a smile on his face suggesting some mixture of delight and amazement. Even coming into the side in inauspicious circumstances in a relatively unimportant match it is that big a deal to the guy. I don't think I have ever seen an expression like that on the face of an English player. I wait eagerly to see the expression on his face when he gets the much more aesthetically pleasing Australian test cap. (It may be that this attitude on the part of Australians towards cricket and sport in general is excessive - in fact I believe it is - but it does lead to Australia having an excellent cricket team).

And what did Clarke do in the match? Well, he bowled seven pretty tight overs, and took one wicket for 24. He ran one of the English batsmen out through fine fielding. And with the bat, he scored an unbeaten 39 not out that took Australia from 6-104 to the winning total of 153. That is, he played a match winning performance. He isn't going to play in the world cup, because the team has already been selected and he isn't in it. He may not even play in the next match. However, I suspect he will be in the touring party to the West Indies, at least in the one day side.

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