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.
“Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I’m gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust
How do you think I’m going to get along,
Without you, when you’re gone
You took me for everything that I had,
And kicked me out on my own
Are you happy, are you satisfied
How long can you stand the heat
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat”
What went wrong with a team that came into the semi-finals undefeated, winning seven straight games in a row?
What can explain the abject display of this Indian side once they came up against their bete-noire of the last five months? Was it another case of déjà vu?
First, the Australians scored 30-50 runs more than our batters could easily achieve. A score of around 280 was chaseable against their strong bowling attack. Once the Aussies went past the psychological barrier of 300, it was an uphill struggle. Dhoni missed a trick by not letting Umesh Yadav bowl the last over. He was the only one who looked like getting wickets in his final spell and a couple of wickets more could have restricted the Aussies to a less substantial total.
The loss of Shikhar Dhawan began the slide. The left-handed opener was looking good for yet another ton but threw it away in a moment of casual lassitude. Rohit Sharma has scored runs but all of his big scores have come against the lesser sides. The Mumbaikar once again failed to step up to the plate when it mattered. How different is this Sharma from the one who made his debut in 2007-08? Have the years left their scars?
Virat Kohli disappointed. And much as Dhoni tomtoms Ravindra Jadeja’s abilities with the bat, the ‘all-rounder’ has no business being in the side if he cannot average at least a decent 30—both at home and away. Sure, he has three triple centuries in domestic cricket but if that’s the reason he’s in the side, then he should be batting further up the order, not with the tail.
The Indians were probably looking at chasing 328 in chunks. A score of 100 in 20 overs, 200 in 35 and 260 in 40 (power play) would have left them chasing less than 70 in the final 10 overs. It was not to be.
Dhoni’s unwillingness to experiment against the minnows meant that the Indians went up against the Aussies with a closed mindset. What works all the time will fail some day. What then?
Indian fans have a lot to cheer about. At the outset, no one expected this side to travel this far. Winning the trophy would have had their cup of joy overflowing but it would not be a true reflection of the capabilities and form of this side.
Overall, a fair result.
What he said:
“It’s got nothing to do about I’ll see you in the car park and we’ll beat the crap out of each other.”
Dale Steyn has not forgotten his war of words with the Australian skipper Michael Clark during the Newlands test in March this year.
In Zimbabwe later this year, Steyn said:
“I haven’t really spoken to him [Clarke] much since then to be honest. I don’t take many things personally, but what he did say to me I did take personally. I know he apologised in the media and I should be playing this down.
But the day he comes and shakes my hand and says, ‘I really mean what I said,’ and behaves like the way he should, maybe then I will (forgive him). But for right now, he’s not here so I’ll wait until I get to Australia.”
Steyn is still upset with Clark for what he considers a personal sledge.
The South African pacer said:
“I don’t think I can mention it over the air now”.
“[That’s] why I said if I see him we’ll have a normal chat between the two of us. It’s got nothing to do about I’ll see you in the car park and we’ll beat the crap out of each other. It’s got nothing to do with that man, maybe I just said too much in Zimbabwe.
The issue got blown out completely, it was like two schoolgirls the way the media got hold of it. I felt like Clarkey had his opportunity to say something at the end of the Cape Town Test and obviously I wasn’t in the press conference there and the next opportunity I got was a couple of months later in Zimbabwe so I said what I felt.
It wouldn’t have been fair if I’d said something straight after, I would have been called a sore loser after losing the series or the match so I just kept my mouth closed until it was my turn to say something. I didn’t want it to start a massive thing. It did, doesn’t matter. He’s not playing now. He’s obviously injured. Hopefully he gets well, he’s a great player and I think there’s enough respect from both of us, we’ve played against each other for long enough now and it’s just kind of got blown out of the water. It’s a bit silly really in all honesty.”
On the Aussies’ aggressive on-field appproach:
“Aussies are that kind of side they’re always in your face.I think of all the sides that play Test cricket in the world, the Aussies are always well known for being in your face kind of cricketers, kind of bullying teams and stuff like that. I don’t play my cricket like that personally.
I may look like that when I’m on the field and everything like that but I am a fast bowler, that’s just what you’ve got to do at the end of the day. I don’t quite agree with the way some of the things are done I think there’s a line. And I try to stay close to that line but never over-stepping it and if I do over-step it, I’ll be the first guy to put my hand up and say I’m sorry and go and do whatever I can to fix that.
Australia have always been that kind of side, so it doesn’t surprise me when they come hard or when somebody you’ve been a team-mate with before doesn’t greet you at breakfast, that’s just the way it is.”
What Steyn really meant:
“It’s a gentleman’s game, chaps, and I’m a sensitive guy. I can carry a chip on my shoulder for, let’s say how long it’s been now? Eight months?”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I’d rather bowl to him in the car park when he’s without his protective gear. That’s what car parks are good for—ambush territory.”