Retired former Australia Test captain Michael Clarke is making a cricket comeback, saying he desperately misses the game that is “in my blood”.
While his first foray back on to the pitch will be at grade level, he said he would “love” to be part of the Big Bash League, and has refused to rule out Sheffield Shield or even donning the baggy green.
Clarke retired from international cricket after the Ashes series in August, walking away from the Test captaincy at just 34, following a disappointing series and ongoing battles with a chronic back injury.
Clarke, who turns 35 in April, has indicated he will make himself available for the Indian Premier League and then the KFC Big Bash League in the tournament’s sixth season while he also mooted a possible return to red ball action in England at county level and Australia in the Sheffield Shield.
He told the Daily Telegraph: "To step away from cricket for four months has been great, I have found my body has enjoyed it and my mind has really enjoyed it too.
At the same time I've realised the game of cricket is in my blood. I've been looking for an outlet to replace what I've chosen to walk away from.
"So I'll start with playing this grade game for Western Suburbs and see if I miss it as much as I feel like I'm going to. If I do, the option is there to train the entire winter and then we'll see what happens.
"There's BBL next summer, I'd love to be a part of that, IPL, county cricket. There's possibly even Sheffield Shield cricket for NSW.
"I've still been training all the time. Training has always been such a big part of my life and I enjoy it, so my body is feeling amazing and my back feels outstanding."
Clarke added: "It's about the enjoyment, the feeling you used to get when you were a little kid and you'd wake up on a Saturday morning and look outside to check the conditions.
"You wanted it to be sunny, because that meant you'd get a full day in. That's why I am going to see how it feels to get back out there and just enjoy playing the game.
"I always knew I would miss being around my team-mates and the teams I had played in.
"Training for the Sydney to Hobart and being a part of the Loyal team really reinforced how hard it is to replace the competitiveness of playing cricket for Australia. I loved the challenge and the camaraderie of being part of the Loyal team and it made me realise what I'd walked away from by retiring from cricket.
"When David Thompson, one of the Western Suburbs board members, phoned me and asked if I'd like to be part of the Pratten Park match, it got me thinking.
"It doesn't matter what level you're playing or who you're playing for, I recognised that I missed the game.
"All I know is, I'll never say never to anything. I'll start with Western Suburbs and we will see where it takes me. For now, my focus is definitely the shorter format of the game."