Former Australia captain Michael Clarke makes his return to cricket this weekend in a Sydney club competition, but with his eyes on some unfinished business in the Twenty20 format.
The 34-year-old, who bowed out of the game in August after the disastrous Ashes series in England, will return to his old team Western Suburbs to play Randwick-Petersham from Saturday.
One of the outstanding batsmen of his generation, he said he “missed the game”, and now he is free of international demands he wants to have a crack at making his mark in T20s.
“I spent the last 13 years staying away from T20 cricket so I could be the best Test and one-day player I could possibly be,” Clarke told Sky News on Thursday.
“Now I probably have more time and opportunity, if I do miss the game and love the game, to be able to focus on that and improve.
“I didn’t perform in that format as well as I would have liked, so now I’ve got the time to work on my game in that format.”
While Clarke played in 115 Tests and 245 one-day internationals, he only took part in 34 T20 internationals during his first-class career.
T20 cricket can be a big money-spinner for players, with Australian veteran Shane Watson netting a US$1.4 million contract at this month’s Indian Premier League auction.
This week Clarke is looking to help his old club — winless and in last place — take on their stronger neighbouring club Randwick-Petersham in a two-day match.
“I know a lot of the boys and they are all good guys, so it’s great to be back here,” he told the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
“Wests has always been a great club and we’ve got a lot of younger players coming through now, so like a lot of clubs it’s a bit about rebuilding now and then we’ll be back to our best for sure.
“I just want to come back and hopefully I’ll bring some experience and hopefully I’m not too rusty.”
Clarke added: “Most of all, I’m just looking forward to playing.
“I haven’t played a lot of cricket recently and I’m proud of every game and it’s great fun to be playing for the club that has been so good to me since I was a 13-year-old.”
Wests are captained by Fabian Cowdrey, the 23-year-old grandson of English great Colin Cowdrey in what will be his final game in Sydney before he returns to county cricket with Kent.
“It’s just an absolute privilege,” Cowdrey said of playing with Clarke. “It’s my last game here and then I head back to play county cricket, so I’m just hoping to learn a bit and definitely enjoy it.”