Former Aussie captain Michael Clarke says Australians are kind people, but Indians are kinder…
He feels that out here, in India, there’s another level of kindness altogether!Updated: Sep 23, 2017 23:46 IST
There’s a natural ease about former Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke as he shuffles around at the exclusive HT Brunch photo shoot, posing for pictures. Changing from a three-piece suit into a patterned shirt-Nehru jacket combination for the shoot, he exclaims, “This is really comfortable!” For Clarke, fashion has much to do with comfort. “As men, we don’t do uncomfortable as well as women do – dealing with high heels and choosing looks over comfort,” he says.
Clarke’s made several trips to India since his Test debut as a 23-year-old in Bengaluru in 2004. He was also part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for two years, playing for the Pune Warriors. The former Australian captain says he now spends almost as much time in India as he does in his home country.
“Indians have a kindness to them that I really love. We have a big part of that in Australia too, but here it’s just another level,” he says.
Since he announced his retirement from cricket two years ago, 36-year-old Clarke has had his hands full. He runs an investment business in Sydney, fulfils brand commitments, commentates, and spends as much time as he can with wife Kyly and 18-month-old daughter Kelsey Lee.
“The one thing I focus on every day is to try and become better, in everything I do. When I was playing cricket, I wanted to become a better cricketer. Now, I want to become a better commentator, better at business and a better father and husband.”
As the Aussie skipper, Clarke was flamboyant, with blonde streaks in his hair, a diamond ear stud, and the tattoo sleeve. Today, his ideal day comprises a barbeque at home with family and friends. “I take my daughter for a swim. My sister and my wife’s sister both have two kids so we invite everybody over. Breakfast turns into lunch and lunch into dinner,” he says.
“AS MEN, WE DON’T DO UNCOMFORTABLE AS WELL AS WOMEN DO”
While he loves to barbeque, his wife, with her Italian-Maltese heritage, is a kitchen goddess. “She loves cooking and I love eating, a combination that works for our relationship,” he says and adds that he loves Bollywood films and Indian food. He’s travelled across the country, but recently spent a lot of time in Kolkata, and is in love with the city.
“They have magnificent biryani, which is my favourite food. And the sweets, oh my god. I usually train every day, but when I get to Kolkata I need to train twice a day, because it’s impossible not to eat the sweets.”
Last November, Clarke began commentating full-time. “Just being around and listening to people like Sunny (Gavaskar), Ravi (Shastri) and Sanjay (Manjrekar) has helped me learn.” He also witnessed the iconic women’s cricket final between England and Australia at Lord’s last month and was ecstatic to see how packed the stadium was. “I love seeing women’s cricket grow. I’d like to see the women get paid more money,” says Clarke.
He is also very active on Twitter, where he has over 1.8 million followers. “I’m very grateful for everybody who supported me through my career and my life, especially the tough times. Social media is a way to allow my fans a little bit closer, to really know who I am and see what I do on a daily basis.”
Clarke might be back in India next month with his family. “I’m sure my wife will be investigating a few recipes as I love Indian food. And I’d love my daughter to experience the culture, the food and the people here.”
Clarke grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia. “My mum and dad both worked full-time to send my sister and I to public school, and to allow us to play the sports we wanted.”
He’s travelled to most states across his country and his favourite holiday destination is the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland. “I’ve always loved the water and boats, so Whitsunday is magnificent. I also enjoy a glass of wine in places like the Barossa Valley. Every Indian must visit this region in South Australia,” he says.
From HT Brunch, September 24, 2017
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First Published: Sep 23, 2017 23:46 IST