Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke, speaking publicly for the first time since abruptly quitting the ongoing tour of New Zealand and the subsequent break-up with fiancee Lara Bingle, on Wednesday hoped the episode will not distract him from the upcoming Test series.
Clarke, who cited personal reasons for abruptly quitting the ODI series and flew back to Sydney to meet Bingle, has defended his decision and said he had also received some timely advice from Australian spin great Shane Warne.
“I have spoken to Warney. I’ve spoken to a lot of my friends and my family. He’s been a wonderful friend of mine for a long time and he was excited to see me back in New Zealand and wished me all the best for Friday’s Test match,” Clarke said at a press conference at the Westpac Stadium here.
“I made the decision firstly to go home but then to come back to New Zealand knowing that there was a big Test match starting on Friday.
“I knew I’d be capable to get up for that. Preparation has been very important to me throughout my whole career and it’s no different now. Yesterday it was important to get back in the nets and have a good bat, see that red ball,” he said.
Clarke also said that it was “very important” at that point of time to go back home and deal with the relationship issues.
“It’s part of what we do. Being a professional athlete it’s not just about what you do on the field it’s what you do off the field as well,” Clarke said.
“We have to accept that and for me it was important to do what I had to do in my personal life and it’s important for me now to be back with my team-mates and make sure I’m concentrating on playing a Test match for Australia,” Clarke said.
“(Going home) was obviously something that I thought was very important and needed to be done and I did that. “My team-mates were fantastic and very supportive. Cricket Australia, the ACA, all my friends and family have been wonderful. That’s obviously why I’m back here now, trying to get out there on Friday and perform in Australia,” he added.
Clarke also admitted that he was expecting some personal sledging when he enters the ground for the first match of the two-Test series commencing from March 19 here.
“I’m sure I’ll get a little bit of stick (from the crowd) but I don’t mind that. No matter where you go around the world, every country wants their team to win and do well, so we’ll wait and see what happens on Friday but I don’t think that will affect me too much.
“I’ve copped a fair bit of sledging in my time, whether it be about stuff on the field or off the field. We’ll just have to wait and see (if the players sledge). But I have the utmost respect for the New Zealand guys and I’m sure they’re the same so we’ll play it by ear, but I’m sure it won’t affect me,” Clarke added.