‘I will cherish every day I play for Australia, but life will go on when those days are over’
‘I can't tell you how good it felt to put on that Australian one-day uniform’
Michael Clarke thought he had played his last game of cricket when he strained his hamstring again during the Adelaide Test against India but will have no misgivings about retiring when his time comes, the Australia captain has said.
On the comeback from hamstring surgery, Clarke will miss the World Cup opener against England in Melbourne on Saturday but is confident he will pad up for the second match against Bangladesh on February 21.
"Scans confirmed I had torn my hamstring after the last day of the Adelaide Test -- and I thought I might have just played my last game of cricket," Clarke wrote on Friday in his News Ltd column.
"I had just suffered my fourth hamstring injury in six months and my back was flaring up.
"I had also just scored a century in memory of my little brother, Phillip Hughes, in a winning Test side.
"If that was to be the end, I thought, I would have no regrets."
Clarke said his attitude to the game changed in 2007 after his father fell ill with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"It made me realise that, in the grand scheme of life, cricket was just a game and I had been incredibly blessed to have had the career and experiences I've had," he said.
"I will cherish every day I play for Australia, but life will go on when those days are over."
Clarke's race to be fit for the February 14 - March 29 World Cup has been something of a soap opera, with selectors giving him a deadline to be fit for the Bangladesh match or miss out on playing the tournament on home soil altogether. An ultimatum that many pundits have criticised as draconian.
But Clarke said he was never concerned about getting fit in time for the tournament.
"My first thought after coming out of hospital wasn't about meeting the World Cup deadline. It was about getting my body right -- whether that took six weeks or six months," he said.
"But as the rehab and training evolved and I could feel the improvement in my hamstrings and back, the tournament came into view.
"I can't tell you how good it felt to put on that Australian one-day uniform against the United Arab Emirates," he added of Wednesday's final World Cup warm-up, where he top-scored with 64 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
"The records will show that it was just a practice match -- but it was so much more than that to me."