Michael Clarke has pulled out of his Big Bash League deal with the Melbourne Stars, saying he’s taking an indefinite break from all forms of cricket and hopes he can rediscover his love and passion for the game.
Despite announcing in April he’d signed a two-year contract with the Stars as president Eddie McGuire’s marquee and captain, Clarke said he needed to “press pause” in order to finally consider his goals outside of cricket.
He also cited his long-term degenerative back problem and the continued psychological impact of friend and teammate Phillip Hughes’ death as factors in his decision.
“Right now for me, I just think my body and my mind need some time away from the game of cricket … and just see what that’s like to be without it,” Clarke told Triple M radio from London on Wednesday.
“I don’t want to keep going forward and forward and forward and chasing that next thing, chasing that next thing, without actually just slowing down for a little bit.
“For the first time in my career, I’ve been able to press pause and turn around and look at what I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of.”
Clarke said his retirement from international cricket last month prompted him to consider his wider playing future, as his pregnant wife Kyly prepares to give birth to the couple’s first baby in January.
“I just think with how cricket has been that common denominator for such a long period, it’s just the right time right now to find something else,” he said.
“I’m really hopeful that love and passion that I’ve always had for the game will come back.”
The batting great conceded Hughes’ untimely death last November had also played a role.
“I guess that’s part of it as well. How big a part? Right now I’m unsure,” he said.
“I just need this time to allow myself to go through whatever I need to go through to be able to move forward.”
Clarke did not rule out playing the second year of his contract with the Stars, for whom controversial English star Kevin Pietersen will also play this summer.
He said the franchise had been understanding of his situation as McGuire, who conducted the interview, told the 34-year-old to enjoy the break.
“I’ve got a two-year deal at the moment, so hopefully it all turns out ok and I come back and play next year,” Clarke said.
“But even if they decide they don’t want me to play, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to help the club have success in another way.”
Clarke retired from international cricket after Australia conceded the Ashes in England, bidding farewell in the convincing fifth-Test victory at The Oval.
With the batting great also reconsidering playing in the Indian Premier League next year, it may have marked the final time fans see him in action.
Clarke played 115 Tests during his 11-year career, but persistently battled his back injury and struggled to regain form with the bat since returning from hamstring surgery in the summer.
McGuire said the Stars had already lined up a replacement captain and additional player.