Michael Clarke, also fondly known as 'Pup' started out fairly early in cricket, making his debut for New South Wales at the tender age of 18. Paltry scores notwithstanding, Clarke’s debut was deemed good enough to earn him a scholarship from the Australian Cricket Academy and he went on to captain Australia’s Under-19 team. After slamming two consecutive centuries for NSW in 2002, he was selected for Australia A's tour to England. Claiming the second best average in the consequent South African tour, he became a hot topic for discussion in cricketing circles.
With the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup just round the corner, Australia chose to experiment and Clarke was handed his ODI debut. He responded to the call with an unbeaten 39 helping Australia beat England by four wickets. Clarke displayed exemplary technique and seemed to enjoy himself on the big stage, which was uncharacteristic of someone who was barely finding his feet in international cricket. With consistent performances in ODIs, he finally earned his Test call-up in an away series to India in 2004. Pup couldn’t have asked for a tougher litmus test with Australia in a spot of bother at 4-149, with a vociferous crowd egging on the Indian team to go for the kill. But he relished the opportunity, scoring a brilliant 151 on debut to earn the Man of the Match award. He played a crucial role with both bat and ball and helped Australia achieve a series win on Indian soil in over 30 years. His dream start continued as he slammed another hundred against New Zealand in Brisbane and was touted as Australia’s future batting superstar.
An excellent fielder and a useful left-arm spinner, Clarke’s meteoric rise continued as he was part of Australia’s World Cup winning team in 2007. After Australia’s dream of a fourth successive World Cup victory was shattered by India in the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, Ricky Ponting stepped down from captaincy. Clarke was immediately named Australia’s full-time captain in ODIs and Tests. However, he gave up T20Is to concentrate on longer formats.
Clarke broke a 76-year old record for an Australian captain to score a triple century at home in Tests, when he scored 329* against India at the SCG in 2012. He went on to have a fabulous year ahead, becoming the only Test batsman to score four double centuries in a calendar year – a world record on its own!
Clarke was signed by Pune Warriors for the fifth season of the Indian T20 League but was ruled out due to injury the following year. One of the best players of spin bowling, Clarke has been the cornerstone of the Australian side after the retirement of Ponting and his desire to improve at each and every stage of his career, as a player and a captain, has done wonders to the national side.
After having survived a torrid summer in 2014-15 which began with the passing away of fellow compatriot Phillip Hughes, Michael Clarke fought his way through, combating a career-threatening back injury. He however, fought like a warrior and saw Australia through to their fifth World Cup title and called it quits from ODI cricket after the dream was achieved.
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