This is one of those moments I wish Amy S. were around to comment on. Sigh.
Since the gods are unkind, let me do it instead: I don’t think Michael Clarke’s personal life matters. In India, it’s often said the hardest job after Prime Minster is cricket captain, but the jobs are obviously different and call for varying standards of review. In the former instance, the man is a public figure, responsible to and paid for by taxpayers. In the other, the man isn’t.
So why should it matter that Michael Clarke’s life has become fodder for the gossip pages? The best argument I can think of –Clarke abandoned his team to deal with his private life — isn’t all that persuasive, since we regularly allow cricketers leeway if they want to, say, attend a sister’s wedding or watch a baby born. If Clarke’s still an able captain and batsman, then his position should be impeccable, and Australia’s long-drawn process of anointing successors as if they descended from Queen Victoria can proceed nicely.
Now, it’s possible that teammates were dissatisfied with Clarke before all this hubbub, and then simply used it as an excuse to pile on the guy and get rid of him. That’s a different matter completely, though I wish people would be more honest about it. I say that because 1) I think Shane Warne would have been a much more exciting and compelling captain; 2) we know very little about what cricketers do in their private lives; 3) if you think X is a bad cricketer and shouldn’t be captain, you should say so, not use drama as an excuse.
Is this whole fracas a holdover from the Victorian prudish era? Actually, even in America, which has its own puritanical strain, we see sports people regularly held up for pillory when their private lives unravel. But I think there’s a strange sense in cricket that the captain should be a saint. I’m not sure why. A captain should merely command his teammates’ loyalty (something beyond the Pakistanis, apparently) and have a cricketing brain. Whether or not that brain is that of an evil genius, or a holy knight, shouldn’t matter. Results do.