Perth, Australia – Australian skipper Michael Clarke says his motivation has never been higher as he celebrates his 100-Test milestone Friday, saying, “I've always had that drug inside me that loves the game”.
Known as “Pup” for his youthful precociousness, Clarke is not your archetypal Australian cricket captain: he's fresh-faced, tattooed, and a favourite of the tabloids.
Now, almost a decade after making his debut, he not only brings up his own personal century but could also lead Australia to an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-Test Ashes series against England.
The 32-year-old said that despite the endless demands of international cricket and a bad back that needs constant maintenance, his motivation and enthusiasm for the game has not dimmed.
“It's the complete opposite,” he said in an interview with News Limited tabloids.
“When I wake up on match day I still do what I did when I was 10, I look outside the curtains to see if it is raining.
“No rain, blue sky, and I get that excited I'm going to be back on the field. I've always had that drug inside me that loves the game.
“I love it (cricket) more now because I have more understanding and respect for the game after experiencing the highs and lows.”
The right-hander has had plenty of ups and downs since he scored a century on his debut against India in 2004, and he said what he was most proud about was coming through them as a better player and person.
“I've always dreamt of playing cricket for Australia and nothing more than that,” he said.
“I never asked to be seen as a celebrity, to be seen in that spotlight, to be seen as a role model, to be seen in the social pages of a newspaper or have my personal life spoken about. I didn't know that came with playing for Australia as a young kid.
“I guess I just learnt to accept it as well as I can and cop it on the chin and get on with life.
“That's part of the reason why I am so proud to be playing my 100th Test match, because I've been able to cop a bit of criticism, take it, get back up, have a crack, and make sure I stay focused on my dream.”
Clarke nominated fellow Australian Shane Warne as the best he has played with, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara as the top batsman he has competed against and Andrew Flintoff and Muttiah Muralitharan as the top bowlers he has faced.
He joins an elite list of Australians to reach 100 Tests, including Steve Waugh, Allan Border, Ricky Ponting and Warne. – Sapa-AFP