New Delhi: Australian captain Michael Clarke, who played for Pune Warriors India in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League, believes the cash-rich tournament will sustain despite being marred by endless controversies. The fifth edition of the league lost a bit of sheen with a television news channel alleging that fixing of matches was rampant in the IPL. If that was not enough Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner Shah Rukh Khan triggered a debate after being involved in a brawl with the Mumbai Cricket Association officials at the Wankhede stadium.
The dark spot got even bigger when Royal Challengers Bangalore's Australian recruit Luke Pomersbach was charged of molesting an American national at the team hotel here. However, Clarke termed these incidents as "unnecessary distractions" and said "it is cricket that will sustain the IPL going forward".
"While what is happening isn't very good for the tournament, I don't think these things will have any lasting impact on the well-being of the tournament. As long as the standard of cricket played is of the highest standard, we will see the tournament gaining in strength in the years to come," Clarke told espnstar.com.
The 31-year-old, who recently got married to girlfriend and model Kyly Boldy, said the Twenty20 league will survive the onslaught because of the quality it provides. "I am very clear that the IPL is what it is because of the cricket played for a month and a half. Fans just love to watch their cricket in India and with the very best in the world playing the IPL, they have come out in huge numbers to support the tournament. It is important that all of us realise this and get cricket back in focus as early as possible.”
Clarke was also appreciative of the fact that IPL has strengthened the bond between the cricketers. "The best thing about the IPL is that it has helped improve relations between players a lot. It has done a great service to the game in this sense," the cricketer said.
"Indian and Australian players now play with each other at the IPL and know each other really well. Even if there is a controversy when India and Australia are playing each other, the immediate thought is the adversary on the field isn't a bad bloke for I have played with him in the IPL. A Monkey-gate will never again happen in India-Australia cricket. I can guarantee you that and the IPL deserves a large part of the credit," he added.
Asked why he stayed away from the tournament then, the top-order batter replied that their were a number of reasons to maintain distance from the tournament. But he insisted he will remain a part of the league in the near future. "I stayed away from the IPL for a number of reasons. First, I thought I needed to stay away to improve my Test and one-day batting. The six weeks of the IPL was a window I wanted to use at the nets to improve as a Test and one-day batsman. In fact, I also retired from T-20 international cricket to concentrate on Test and one-day cricket.
"Second, my former fiance’s dad was diagnosed of cancer during the IPL in 2010 and I needed to be with her at the time. But now I feel I have sufficiently improved my game and in fact, need to improve my T20 game. The IPL is the best platform to do so. So here I am."
Talking about next year, yes, I am much looking forward to playing the IPL again. It is a fantastic tournament and it will help me improve my T20 game a lot," he said.
Clarke, who scored a total of 98 runs in the six outings for Pune this season, said he would like to make amends in the next season. "I am not sure if I'd play the Big Bash because we have a packed summer in Australia end of the year but I should definitely be back next year to play the IPL."