When Michael Clarke announced Sunday’s World Cup final would be his last one-day international, one New Zealand cricket writer accused him of hijacking the occasion.
His name’s Jonathan Millmow. Yep, I’d never heard of him either.
Millmow played for New Zealand for a nanosecond 25 years ago. He never made the Test team but took four wickets in five one-day internationals, at an average a batsman would be proud of. In fact, Clarkey has a better bowling average than this guy. By a good 20 runs.
These days, Millmow’s the cricket writer for the Dominion Post. And it was in that publication that he declared Clarke’s announcement ‘reeked of self importance and could’ve waited a few days’.
Presumably until after the final, robbing us all of the chance to appropriately farewell one of the greats from the one-day stage he has graced for 12 years.
Clarke probably thought that having scored almost 8,000 one-day runs and captained the national side for four years, he’d earned the right to retire on his own terms.
At least now he knows to get Millmow’s permission before he hangs up the Baggy Green.
Millmow was right about one thing though. Clarke did hijack the occasion. He hijacked it with shrewd captaincy that strangled New Zealand’s innings. And with the bat when the Kiwis tried to contain him in return.
He hijacked an occasion from which the Black Caps shrank.
What loomed as an epic contest had a whiff of inevitability about it from the moment Mitchell Starc dislodged Brendon McCullum’s bails with the fifth ball of the day.
In the showdown between the two players of the tournament, Starc was up to the challenge and McCullum wasn’t.
As the Kiwi captain trudged back to the pavilion, not having laid bat on ball, the symbolism wasn’t lost on any of the 93,000 MCG spectators. Or on the team, who followed his example.
Four Black Caps scored ducks yesterday, leading to calls for the national emblem to be changed. Certainly we should be changing Clarkey’s nickname. This bloke ain’t no Pup.
Set 184 for the trophy, the Aussie run chase never looked in doubt, even when Aaron Finch went for a bagel.
Dave Warner played like there was somewhere else he needed to be in a hurry and, when he fell, there was Clarke. Who wasn’t about to give his wicket away.
For a while, it looked like Clarke might be there for the fairytale finish and hit the winning runs.
It wasn’t to be. Bowled on 74, just shy of the victory target, Clarke acknowledged the record MCG crowd and a mate looking on from the heavens.
Fittingly, it was the summer’s run machine Steve Smith who played the final shot. In his excitement, he straddled the nearest person. Which was Shane Watson. Who didn’t mind a bit.
Clarke dedicated the win to Phillip Hughes, taken from us just four months ago. “We played this World Cup with 16 players,” he said.
Yes, Clarkey and his golden band of brothers did hijack the occasion. But these moments aren’t given to you. They’re there for the taking.