Captain Clarke's Coffs break
IT’S rare that Coffs Harbour’s premier hangout for national sporting teams has just one man in boot camp training but this isn’t shaping up to be an ordinary year for Aussie cricket captain Michael Clarke.
Going solo in an intensive two-week training regime at Novotel Pacific Bay Resort, Clarke’s self-imposed slog fest is a bid, as the new skipper, to lift a struggling national team.
Quizzed on all things cricket, Clarke also spoke candidly, in a national media interview, of his life off the pitch.
“My personal life I want to keep out of the public eye as much as possible,” Clarke said.
“It’s a part of my life that I like, being personal and keeping things to myself.
“I guess I’ve learnt (from) what’s happened in the past.”
So much so that Clarke does not want to discuss new girlfriend Kyly Boldy.
“I think enough of my life is in the public eye playing cricket for Australia, so the time you get with your family and friends, I miss that,” Clarke said.
“I want to keep that between my family and friends and that close group of people.”
There was nothing private about Clarke’s very public break-up with Lara Bingle.
He flew home in the middle of a New Zealand tour in March last year amid heavy criticism – and even greater scrutiny – only to return to the fray and post his highest Test score of 168.
It was a supreme effort of mind over matter.
“That’s part of being an international sportsman,” Clarke said.
“Guys have wives, kids, families.
"They have stuff going on at home but they have to be able to walk out on the field and perform.
"I’m no different.
"You need to have your life first and foremost and I’ve got this great game of cricket, which I love and cherish.
“Whatever happens off the field, once you cross that line you have to be able to let that go and perform for your team.
“Fortunately I was able to make a few runs, which was pretty special.”
For all his desire for privacy during his down time, Clarke wants to be the new-age leader who engages with the public, the fans, like never before.
After all, he’s the first Gen Y cricket captain, in the era of Twenty 20 and Twitter.
“We need to do that and I’m a good example,” Clarke said.
“I need to show the Australian public who I am and continue to earn their respect.
"You’ve got media outlets, you’ve got Facebook, you’ve got Twitter.
"There are so many ways where the fans can get closer to the players.
"I think that’s a great thing.”
Clarkey was widely spotted during his stay on the Coffs Coast, from buying vegetables in a local supermarket, to sprinting on the sand of a Sapphire Beach and dining out in resort restaurants.
He had nothing but praise for the staff at Pac Bay, the weather and the local community.
“Could not ask for better weather up here in Coffs Harbour. Great people, great location,” he twittered.
“Coffs Coast (is a) great part of the world. People at Pacific Bay could not be anymore friendly. I will be back,” he said.
Perhaps next time he’ll visit with the entire Australian cricket squad.