It was with mixed emotions I received the news that Michael Clarke had decided to pull the pin and retire. In my time following cricket I don’t think there has been a better tactician, Mark Taylor and him may have been on a par, but I rate him better than the Chappells, Waugh or Ponting. You also have to remember that those other well regarded Australian captains had some formidable bowlers at their disposal. Waugh & Ponting essentially had the two best Australian bowlers in Warne & McGrath at their disposal through most of their stewardships. Clarke has had some good bowlers, but injury and form has meant that he has not had a consistent strike force while he has been in charge. Is it the right decision to retire? Yes, I think it is. His batting is clearly on the wane and even he said that he has become a passenger. Having said that, I do hope that the Australian team can do him proud at the Oval and send him out a winner which he thoroughly deserves.
The Nick Kyrgios sledge to Stan Wawrinka has attracted a lot of attention which to my mind seems to be somewhat of an over reaction. Yes what he said was wrong, but was it front page news? Would anyone have known if not for the very sensitive court side microphones? This type of sledging happens all the time in other sports and one of the best sledges of all time was of a similar theme. Glenn McGrath bowling to Zimbabwe’s Eddo Brandes asked him why he was so fat. Brandes’ response was along the lines of “because every time I make love to your wife she gives me a biscuit”. I certainly don’t condone what Kyrgios said, but lets not get carried away and lets not get too far up on that high horse.
Have a great weekend!
It was sad to see a champion of the game in Chris Judd end his career as he did last weekend. He is most certainly one of the modern day champions and for a period of 5-8 years was the undisputed best player in the competition. In my opinion his best form was at West Coast which took in a Brownlow medal, a Norm Smith medal in a losing team and he captained their 2006 premiership team. In this team he stood out in a team of good players like Kerr, Cousins & Cox. While there was no doubt he was still an exceptional player at Carlton where he won three consecutive best & fairest awards and another Brownlow medal, he stood out because he was so much better than the rest of the team. I think champions deserve to go out on their own terms and maybe going out the way he did took emotion and the fanfare away from his retirement which probably, in some strange way, suited him.
Sticking with football, it was great to see the football world rally around Neale Daniher and his cause last weekend. Neale was one of the most sublimely skilled players I have seen much in the mould of a James Hird, but unfortunately his body let him down before he really established his greatness. Having said that, I remember Leigh Matthews rated him ahead of Bruce Doull as a half back flanker, even though he had only played 60-70 games before he did his knee. Unfortunately for Neale his body has also let him down in life, but not dulled his spirit.
Moving away from football it was refreshing to hear Novak Djokevic acknowledge that he was beaten by a better player on the day in his post match interview after the French Open tennis final against Stan Warwinka. Too many times you have the sour grapes post match interviews where the skill of the opposition is not respected. In tennis I doubt I have ever heard Serena Williams acknowledge she was beaten by a better player on the day and certainly, in soccer, Sir Alex Ferguson never did!
Have a great weekend!