Pup’s courageous journey to first Test

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 08 Desember 2014 | 20.01

Ahead of Australia's first test against India on Tuesday the Press Box panel discuss the fitness of Captain Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke delivers a tribute at Phillip Hughes' funeral. Photo by Cameron Spencer. Source: Getty Images

MICHAEL Clarke's stoic journey to today's historic first Test began exactly two weeks ago in his car, driving away from the Sydney Cricket Ground.

After completing a training run with close friend and personal trainer Duncan Kerr, Clarke was on his way to another physio session in Sydney's northwest, when a news update on the radio turned his life, and the lives of so many, upside down.

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DHONI RULED OUT, KOHLI TO CAPTAIN

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CURATOR PREDICTS TYPICAL ADELAIDE PITCH

NO SLIPPING FOR CLARKE'S HAMSTRING

Phillip Hughes' — Clarke's beloved little brother, set to replace him in the Test side for Brisbane — was in a critical condition and had been rushed to intensive care at St Vincent's Hospital after being felled by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield match at the SCG.

Before the bulletin went to air and shock set in, Clarke had been consumed by his own hamstring dramas.

Michael Clarke tests his hamstring at the Adelaide Oval. Pic: Keryn Stevens Source: News Corp Australia

As had most in Australian cricket.

It's ironic therefore, that the fortnight that will forever define Clarke as a genuine leader of men started at a time when he was under the microscope.

Cricket Australia were livid with how he was handling his injury comeback.

But how petty and meaningless does that saga seem now?

The tragedy involving Hughes called on cricket to stand up in the most traumatic of times, and Clarke showed his true colours as a man of substance.

He impressed as much as he did because when it mattered most, his natural instinct in such an emotional crisis was to care only for others and not himself.

Michael Clarke batting in the nets at the Adelaide Oval. Photo by Michael Dodge Source: Getty Images

Those who have known him since he was a teenager say this is the real Michael Clarke.

A man of compassion who might only be close to a select few, but to those people, he gives everything.

Illnesses to his father, mother and sister over the years have moved him deeply.

Clarke, above all is a family man.

And on Level 5 at St Vincent's Hospital, it was that intrinsic value that shone the brightest.

Clarke, himself deeply cut up inside, was there as a shoulder to cry on for all.

Kylie Clarke, Michael Clarke and Justin Langer leave St Vincents hospital after visiting Phillip Hughes. Pic: Damian Baker Source: News Corp Australia

Put simply, his courage set the example for teammates and friends.

He was in constant contact with the Hughes family, offering support in every way he could.

Clarke was the first to greet the flocks of players and guests arriving at the hospital, explaining to them the seriousness of the situation and encouraging his frightened colleagues to go up to the intensive care unit and just support.

Alongside Australian doctor Peter Brukner and Hughes' manager James Henderson, Clarke was the rock.

The trio worked together almost 24 hours a day to bind the cricket family together in the confronting halls of the hospital.

Michael Clarke after speaking to the press following the death of Phillip Hughes. AFP PHOTO: William WEST Source: AFP

When the harrowing decision was made by the family to turn off Hughes' life support, Clarke and Kerr were waiting in the corridor.

Kerr, a respected figure in Australian cricket who has known Clarke for 17 years, was the skipper's rock — barely leaving his side for the entire period.

The pair trained at the SCG amid their grief, and that decision, as well as the benefit of rest, has paved the way for Clarke to play today.

Clarke's display of leadership continued in Macksville ahead of the funeral.

Michael Clarke arrives in Macksville with Michael Brown. Photo by Michael Dodge Source: Getty Images

At the Hughes' household, he and long-term friend Michael Brown — James Sutherland's former second in command at Cricket Australia — worked closely with the family on funeral preparations.

Brown observed as Clarke went out of his way to personally thank the people of Macksville for their support — from school children to local dignitaries.

Clarke worked on the funeral down to the finest detail — including preparing Hughes' Australian suit and cricket caps for display the morning of the service.

Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke's tribute at Phillip Hughes' funeral

At the wake, Clarke stood at the door of the Services club and personally greeted nearly every guest — numbering over 400 — and thanked them for coming.

And this, according to respected administrator Brown, is the real Clarke.

"He's a man of great compassion. You listen to Michael on a whole range of topics, he's a very proud Australian," Brown said.

"He's very close to his own family. Family is No. 1 for him.

"He's a natural leader of men. He's got a natural feel for people."

Michael Clarke walks laps at the Adelaide Oval. Photo by Michael Dodge Source: Getty Images

Clarke was drained after the funeral and private cremation, but he never left any doubt in the minds of those close to him that he would get himself up for the Test.

"He's strong. He knows he is playing for his country. But he'll be playing for Phillip," said Brown.

"I'll be shedding tears of joy if he makes a good score."

The events of the past week has given Clarke and many across the game renewed perspective on what's important in life.

Today, as Clarke said in his moving eulogy, he just needs to dig in and get to tea.

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