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Michael Clarke admits he didn’t always play it straight versus India

Former Australia skipper, who quit after the 2015 Ashes tour of England, claims he tried to dissuade Andrew Symonds from pursuing the complaint against Harbhajan in the 2007-8 Sydney Test.

cricket Updated: Mar 14, 2017 22:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Michael Clarke,Sourav Ganguly,Andrew Symonds
Australia skipper began his career with a bang in India, scoring a century on Test debut in Bangalore in 2004, but he was also in the thick of things in the Sydney Test on India’s 2007-8 tour which saw the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal engulf the series. (PTI Photo)

The specifics weren’t mentioned but Michael Clarke was candid enough to admit he wasn’t the most honest Joe in his time as an international cricketer.

“I have ma‎de plenty of mistakes in my career,” the former Australia skipper said at an event to promote his autobiography ‘My Story’ here on Tuesday.

“Anil Kumble once bowled a wrong ‘un and it hit my gloves and I was caught by first slip. It was blatant but I was stuck in that moment and in my desire to play for Australia, I didn’t walk,” Clarke said.

Read | Test of maturity for Virat Kohli, Steve Smith in Ranchi

Clarke was replying to a question pertaining to the ‘Monkeygate’ Test in Sydney on the 2007-8 tour. With Sourav Ganguly seated alongside --- the former India skipper launched his book here --- Clarke had been asked whether he had taken a clean catch to dismiss him in that Test.

Monkeygate scandal

The ‘Monkeygate’ incident figures prominently in the book even though Ganguly said, no one apart from a ‘Sardar’ would understand what Harbhajan Singh had said. “I was standing next to him (Harbhajan) when he said that.”

Clarke said he felt Andrew Symonds should have dropped the incident there. “I asked him (Symonds) if he thought he was racially vilified and he said ‘‎it was about a lot of other things’. At that point, I felt it was not right.”

Read | Virat Kohli vs Steve Smith: Ex-Oz captain finds similarity in their difference

By referencing how that was handled, Clarke said the DRS episode in Bengaluru was dealt with very well by the Indian and Australian boards. “It’s good that what has so far been a fantastic series will continue to be about cricket,” he said.

The BCCI filed a complaint with the ICC against the Australian skipper, but withdrew the same evening after a meeting between the CEOs of the two boards in Mumbai.

The Hughes effect

Clarke said the book was triggered by how he was affected by Phil Hughes’ death when India were touring Australia in 2014-15. “‎I still have his number in my phone. There were a lot of things I couldn’t say then and so I decided to write them down... That issue was also when Virat Kohli gained a lot of respect in my eyes...He (Kohli) got players to come over to the funeral. He didn’t have to.”

Asked how difficult it is for players to think about retirement, Clarke said he had never thought he would play beyond 30 given his back problem. “But that was when I was made Australia captain, so I got a four-year extension....You need to fall in love with something else...I think I made my decision at the right time.”

In the way he went about, a certain MS Dhoni would be pleased. “I didn’t speak to anybody. We had just lost the Ashes, Phil had passed and my wife was pregnant with our daughter. I spoke to my wife and decided,” he said.

When that question was followed up by whether he thought top players should choose their time of leaving the game, Clarke said: “Communication is important from all sides because ultimately you will be judged by the same yardstick as other players. But you need to show respect to senior players‎.”

As he said that, Ganguly was seen wearing the briefest of smiles.

First Published: Mar 14, 2017 21:02 IST