If Sangakkara is the quintessential gentleman beyond the game, Michael Clarke is the bright young upstart turned elder statesman and guardian of its values.
The transformation occurred under intense public scrutiny where every move and misdemeanour was analysed and dissected.
Pup’s metamorphosis would not have been possible without the support of his partner and wife, Kyly Boldy.
Clarke’s previous choice, Lara Bingle, was an equally high profile personality.
Their three-year relationship which began in 2007 and ended in 2010 was always in the news and not for the right reasons.
It was, perhaps, no surprise that the relationship ended around the time Clarke began his ascension to the throne of Australian cricket.
The ostensible reason for the break-up was an exclusive tell-all interview that Bingle sold to a women’s magazine.
And that’s when the current Mrs. Clarke and then Kyly Boldy boldly stepped into the frame.
From ‘just friends’ to an ‘item’ within months, the former schoolmates fast forwarded to the present with Boldy proving to be an able and capable First Lady of the national obsession.
Just who is Kyly Boldy?
According to her:
“I’d hope that people would think I come across as classy and that’s just because I like to hold myself that way. I guess that’s what I like to embrace and I think that’s a really nice quality in a woman.
And I hope people see me as a fun-loving ‘girl next door’. I’m a lot more of a jokester than everyone thinks – a lot more. I’m always cracking some kind of a joke or having a laugh, and I think people will be a bit surprised to see that really down-to-earth Kyly my family get to see.”
The comparisons to Bingle were evident, at first. They are both models and media personalities in their own rights.
Boldy, however, decided to shun the limelight post her marriage to Clarke in 2012.
The wedding was low-profile.
Boldy certainly has no time or place for the WAG tag used to euphemistically describe sportsmen’s partners.
“I’m not sure who started it, but they should get a slap on the wrist. Every single wife or girlfriend I’ve met who has been a part of the cricket community has always stood on her own – they have their own jobs, they have their own careers, they all do very, very well for themselves. I wonder what the husbands could be called? I wonder if we could swap this around?”
And she certainly would not like to take any credit for her husband’s success.
“That is so funny. But, nah, I don’t take any credit for any of his success. I see Michael wake up every single day, trying to be the best cricketer he can be, to be a better captain than the day before. The dedication and the passion that he has for his job is something I’ve never seen before and something I really admire. He should get every little bit of credit.
Sure, his family life or his home life might be more suitable for him, and maybe he’s just more comfortable that he feels like he can just go to cricket and do his thing – but that’s not a question I can answer. I am just happy that he is doing so well, and I know he will continue to do well because he wants to.”
She sums up her life with Clarke in these words:
“You have to wake up every single day with your own goals and dreams in life, love, family and career. You can’t take that away from anybody and I think that’s what our family is about.”
Kyly took her job as captain Clarke’s better half seriously enough to learn the rules to the game.
“As everyone keeps reminding me, it (being cricket captain) is the second most important job in Australia so obviously being alongside Michael, that is a huge thing. I’ve matured with age, a girl that has turned into a lady, and I’m trying to do everything the best way I can by learning as I go. I’ve had to Wikipedia the rules because I wanted to go into it knowing something. It makes it so much more enjoyable when you know exactly what is going on. And then you really do start to love the game because you can appreciate what is happening.”
Perhaps, it has helped that Clarke himself was a more mature person when he started dating Kyly.
An older, wiser Clarke refused to talk about his personal life and focused media questions on his cricket.
Clarke also has nothing but praise for his wife’s workout ethic especially her diet.
“I can’t believe how disciplined she is with her diet. She’s got that self-discipline to not touch the junk food if she doesn’t want to, whereas if I see it in the cupboard it’s gone, I eat it! I can’t have two pieces of chocolate and put it away, I’ve got to eat the whole bar.”
(Funny how this jells with my personal view that if sportsmen need to watch their diets, they should date or wed models or actresses who do that all the time. Look at Shane Warne’s new, slim, look since teaming up with Elizabeth Hurley—now apart.)
A bad back and an indifferent Ashes series hastened Pup’s early retirement. It, however, gives the couple ample privacy and time to welcome the first addition to their family with Kyly expecting soon.
While two greats exit the field, they begin anew a home life that demands much more from them than just runs, wickets, catches and wins. It is a second innings away from glory but will require guts nonetheless.