Michael Clarke's rise in international cricket over the last eight years has coincided with the growth of T20 cricket. Still, the Australia captain had resisted the lure of the shortest format. Not only has he retired from Twenty20 internationals even before turning 30, Clarke had played just one
domestic tournament, for Hampshire in 2004, before this season.
And while the IPL led to a divide over players showing priority for the lucrative format over international cricket, Clarke was touted as a torch-bearer, one who believed in sanctity of international cricket.
The connoisseurs conveniently forgot how the New South Wales player had pulled out of the 2009 IPL auction citing international commitments, although he was reportedly unhappy with the base price offered to him.
Allure of money
The last week has highlighted the fact that even a player like Clarke can't resist the money-spinning tamasha. Although he signed a deal with Pune Warriors as a replacement player and made himself available for the latter half of IPL-V, he flew home for his wedding with two games remaining and rejoined the team for the last game.
Clarke's action, skipping the Warriors' game against Rajasthan in Jaipur on May 13 before returning on the morning of their concluding game of a disastrous season on Saturday, not only showed a lack of commitment but also his greed.
"We don't know if he had some sort of a deal with the owners, but we were told at the last minute that he will not be available for one game," a key Warriors player told HT on Sunday.
"And if he had to leave for the penultimate game, with the team going through such a disastrous phase, what was the need for him to return for the last game, which was inconsequential, to say the least?"
Even Steve Smith, who surprisingly led the Warriors against Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 11, had admitted after the game that since Clarke was going to miss the "next" game for "personal reasons", the team management wanted "continuity" in terms of leadership if Sourav Ganguly was to rest himself for all their last three games.
"I have said for a long time that when the opportunity comes up and I feel that it's right for me, I would love to get over there and have a crack and see what it's like," Clarke had said just before boarding a plane to India from the West Indies last month.
And going by his conduct, the IPL seems to have made little impact on Clarke -his honeymoon started even before Warriors suffered an IPL record ninth defeat in a row - except for a sudden increase in his bank balance.
IPL-V: the hits and misses