Few know that Michael Clarke had to put in the hard yards, more than many boys of his age who dream of making it big in cricket. At Kingsgrove Store, Clarke slogged for two years, juggling his training and work.
His former employer, Harry Solomons, managing director of Kingsgrove Sports, recalls: “Clarke was a good worker but I could never offer him any promotion. I think if he won’t have played for Australia, he’d have been a marketing top shot.”
His coach Neil D’Costa recalls how Clarke was desperate to succeed even as an upcoming player.
“I remember we were once batting together in a game at the Western Suburbs club. He was struck on his pads and he should have been given out LBW but before the umpire could raise his finger, Clarke pointed to the New South Wales badge on his helmet and the umpire turned down the appeal. Back then, it was tough to give a first-class cricketer out, and Clarke knew it.”
Even on Tuesday, before he came out to bat with Ricky Ponting, Clarke told D’Costa of his desire to crush the Indians. D’Costa says he asked the player to demand discipline and dedication from his game. The consensus amongst the pair was that anything under 200 should be considered a failure.
D’Costa doesn’t like to watch Clarke bat. In the morning when play started, he was in the nets with another trainee, the out-of-favour opener Phil Hughes. “It is a very Indian thing but I get anxious watching Clarke bat. I can’t. I only do it if I have to spot anything specific but I avoid,” said D’Costa. “I haven’t spoken to him today.”
It is expected to be bright on Thursday morning. A thunderstorm forecast is also there. The staff at Kingsgrove are nervous. Their former colleague could create history.
The writer works for ESPN’s SPORTSCENTER