Clarke offers to come out of retirement, play for free for Australia after ball scandal
Melbourne :Retired cricket Test captain Michael Clarke offered to play for Australia for free to help the team recover after the downfall of his successor Steve Smith over a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Smith and vice-captain David Warner were stripped of their leadership roles and banned from the sport for one year after a plot to alter the balls condition during the third Test in March. "I would do anything to help the Australian cricket team," the 37-year-old told Sydneys Sunday Telegraph.
“Age is age. Is 17 too young? Ive never cared about age. Brad Hogg played at 45. I dont think its about a number. I think its about commitment and devotion. Its like getting back on a bike. Im as fit and healthy as Ive ever been. The time away has been great for my body."
The former batsman, who is in India to cover the IPL and comments on the sport for Australias Nine Network, said he had messaged Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland but had not received a reply.
The ex-skipper retired in 2015 after his 115th and final Test of the Ashes series against England and said his experience could be useful for the embattled team either on or off the field.
“Ive experienced a lot of great things in cricket but some tough times as well," he told the newspaper.
"Ive got the experience to help these young players and thats where our focus should be right now until the other guys come back."
Smith, Warner and bowler Cameron Bancroft -- who was banned for nine months -- decided not to challenge their sanctions imposed by CA last week. This means Smith and Warner will not be eligible to play for Australia until March next year, with wicketkeeper Tim Paine appointed captain.
Clarke said the ball-tampering affair, as Australia slips to fourth in the world Test rankings, could set the team back for years. "Im worried about it. I dont want us to be like the West Indies," he added.
"Were not talking about the next five years. Its the next six months and we need to fix it now. If Cricket Australia asks me, Id drop everything to help out.”