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Why Did Not Michael Clarke’s Comments about Australian Players Sucking Up to Kohli Make Sense?

Last week, the former Australian captain and now a revered commentator made such comments that ruffled many an Aussie feather. Here's my take why it somewhat makes sense and what he was trying to convey.

Ritik Goel
Last updated: 16.04.2020
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Last week, the former Australian captain and now a revered commentator made such comments that ruffled many an Aussie feather.


“ I feel that Australian cricket, and probably every other team over a little period, went the opposite and actually sucked up to India,” Clarke told Sky’s Big Sports Breakfast.


“They were too scared to sledge Kohli or the other Indian players because they had to play with them in April. The players were like: “I’m not going to sledge Kohli, I want him to pick me for Bangalore so I can make my $1 million US for my six weeks.” He added. Clarke justified his comments by mentioning that India is very strong in regards to the financial part of the game. 


These comments raised eyebrows across the cricketing community. Australian test captain rejected Clarke’s claim saying that the Aussies did not want to provoke him because he plays at his best when he is being challenged.


Michael Clarke’s comments stirred up a crucial debate. There is no doubt that IPL is the biggest cricket extravaganza in the world. Every player dreams to be a part of it and rub shoulders with some of the best players in the world. In fact, no player tries to shy away from acknowledging how massive an IPL contract would be for them.


However, Clarke perhaps went a bridge too far by saying that Aussies could suck up to someone, purely because of an IPL deal. No other team plays the game with the kind of passion and aggression that Australia does. Clarke himself was in the midst of some of Australia’s most dominant victories in the modern era whether it was a 5-0 drubbing of the English team or 4-0 whitewash of the Indians.


Although IPL is a cash-rich tournament, the Australian team is also one of the handsomely-paid international teams in the world. Money is not everything for them. Yes, players would want to hone their skills by going to the IPL but there is not an iota of doubt that they put their country first. In fact, they have pulled out of the IPL in the past on many occasions, purely to keep themselves fit for Australia’s key international tours and even to spend time with their families!


Yes, Virat Kohli is a superstar of the game but his is not the only team in the IPL. In fact, Royal Challengers Bangalore is one of the least successful teams in the IPL. 


Australians are known to be as competitive as anyone in world cricket and they would never suck up to the opposition’s best players for the money. This Indian team is not one of those teams that have to come to the Australian shores in the past. They will look the opposition in the eye and will be ready to give it back to them. Moreover, the Australian team of late 2018 was in a transition phase, perhaps going through one of the darkest phases in Australian cricket history. They were down on confidence and were playing some uncharacteristic cricket. In such a scenario, they were not as fired up as they usually were. They restricted themselves to healthy banter and focused on cricket more than anything else.


There have been and there are a few cricketers who become the best versions of themselves when challenged. Viv Richards was one in the past and Virat Kohli is one in the present. Tim Paine realised this fact and made a pact with his teammates that no one would try to fire up Kohli because they knew the value of his wicket and not because they wanted to secure an IPL deal. Tim Paine himself went on to break that pact once during the series because he believed that Indians were getting on top of them and he needed to stand up for his team. After all, that competitive spirit could not be hidden for too long.


Yes, Smith and Warner were not there; Australians were not playing at their best and they were an inexperienced side, no history book will mention these facts alongside the scoreline. This was and will remain India’s first-ever test series victory in Australia no matter what excuses the current or former players give.


All said and done, no one gets to play for an IPL team because they are nice. It’s because they are good players. Indian fans would like to see the superstars like Pat Cummins and Glenn Maxwell to lighten up the IPL and they don’t have to be “good boys” for that. Their skills and abilities will fetch them a deal.

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