IT was a far cry from a World Cup final at the MCG.
But for former Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke, his love of the game remains unconditional, regardless of the venue and what is at stake.
Clarke made an anti-climactic appearance at Toronto’s Ron Hill Oval on Sunday, playing briefly in a trial match for his grade side, Western Suburbs, against the Newcastle representative team.
His contribution was limited to standing at slip for 11 overs in persistent drizzle before play was abandoned and he retreated to the pavilion to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans.
It was to have been the 35-year-old’s first 50-over game since that memorable day in March, 2015, when Australia were crowned one-day world champions after beating New Zealand in the tournament decider.
“It’s exactly the same, except I’m wearing whites instead of colours,’’ Clarke said with a smile when asked to compare the two fixtures.
“It feels the same. Playing the game of cricket, it doesn’t matter who I play for, I’ve always felt nervous, I’ve always wanted to perform, and I always want my team to have success.
“So as much as it’s not televised, and there’s not 98,000 people here, the feeling inside as a player is just the same. I play the game because I love it. Now I’ve got the chance to play for Wests.’’
Clarke retired from international cricket 13 months ago after the Ashes in England, but has committed to playing the first three games of the season for Wests.
Beyond that, he is unsure what the future holds.
“I’ve got some stuff with my autobiography [released on October 11], so I’ll be travelling around Australia, and then I’ll be commentating with Channel Nine,’’ he said.
“So at this stage I’ll be available for the start of the year, and then hopefully there’ll be periods throughout the year when I’ll be able to get back and play as much as I can. Playing for my club probably fulfills that itch.
“I’m very proud of my club. They’ve looked after me very well since I was 13 years of age, and now I’ve got more opportunity to give back to them.’’
As for a comeback at professional level, Clarke said he would assess his options after the summer. “There’s some Twenty20 tournament around the world if I want to keep playing, but I’ll just try and score some runs in club cricket first,’’ he said.
He had no complaints about spending several hours on the road for a game written off by the whim of Mother Nature.
“I don’t mind the drive,’’ he said. “It’s a nice drive. I like coming up here, to be honest. It’s disappointing for both teams, because we all wanted to play, but in the same breath we don’t want anyone getting injured leading into round one next week.
“I needed the practice, as well. I’m very rusty so I would have liked the hit.’’
The only batsmen to have a hit were Newcastle openers Aaron Wivell and Jeff Goninan, who were unbeaten on 22 and 10 respectively.