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  • ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 semi-final: Michael Clarke out to crown his one-day career with World Cup win on home soil

    2018 - 07.03

    Outside the Anthony Mundines of the world sportsmen and women don’t generally talk about their legacies, certainly before their careers have expired. Michael Clarke doesn’t often weigh into his either, at least not publicly. On Thursday, however, he has a chance to enhance it further.
    Nanjing Night Net

    On the same ground that he led Australia to a famous 5-0 Ashes triumph 14 months ago, the one on which he compiled an unbeaten 329 a few summers earlier, securing passage to a World Cup final on home soil would be another major notch on the belt.

    For all the off-field issues that have at times reared their head during his captaincy, be they personality clashes or power struggles, it’s for occasions like the semi-final against India at the SCG for which careers are truly remembered.

    The Australians needed only glance at the spine-tingling footage of Grant Elliott scoring the winning runs at Eden Park on Tuesday night to get a gauge of that.

    Clarke watched the epic finale in Auckland from his hotel room and will hope that Australia can bask in a similarly jubilant scene on Thursday evening, even if he’d prefer a wider margin than the Black Caps enjoyed.

    The fact that he’s actually here deserves some revisiting. When the subsequently notorious injury deadline was slapped on him back at the squad announcement in January, he was considered long odds even to feature in any part in the World Cup. If he played he’d probably snap his hamstring again, they said. And given his long absence from the side and Australia’s performance without him his prospective return to the side was viewed in some quarters as more of a hindrance than a help to their cause.

    “Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion,” Clarke said when asked about this on match eve. “I’ve played over 200 one-dayers now for Australia, and I think my record stacks up against just about anyone. So, yeah, for me it’s about making sure I perform with the bat and also as captain of the team.”

    As it turned out, Clarke beat the deadline, and the hammy has held up, and while he hasn’t set the tournament on fire with the bat – that’s for others in this high-octane modern ODI world – it’s for stages like Thursday’s that his value could be exemplified.

    The steadying 68 Clarke made in only his second official game back might be exactly the kind of knock Australia desperately need if not all goes  to plan against India.

    Whether it’s the last time he appears in yellow and green on his home track is still unclear.

    Selectors will be keen to continue to keep a transition plan in motion, and Clarke stepping away from one-dayers after the World Cup so Steve Smith can gain more captaincy experience makes complete sense.

    Clarke is tipped to sign a Big Bash League deal with the Melbourne Stars, which has been interpreted as another indication of his impending exit from the 50-over arena.

    For the captain, who has anything but forecast a limited-overs farewell here, it’s the next few days that matter most.

    “It’s a wonderful opportunity, but every time we walk out on to the field for Australia is extremely special, and tomorrow will be no different,” Clarke said.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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