Anyone who watches cricket will be aware that the Australian men’s vice-captain, Michael Clarke, did the unthinkable and left a tour early to go home because something bad was happening in his personal life.
The bad thing? Oh, just his partner, Lara Bingle, having a photograph taken of her by an ex-partner distributed to the media. A photograph of her in the shower. An ex-partner who was sleeping with her teen-aged, and taking photos of her to share without her consent, while he was married to someone else. A sports star.
Should it be unthinkable? That Michael Clarke be able to lay aside his working life to support his partner? Especially when she’s a victim to a nasty, vicious piece of exploitative behaviour by an ex, who should, quite frankly, not need to take photos of women to prove he’s slept with them. Isn’t that something you grow out of? Needing to prove what a stud you are? Apparently not if you’re Aussie Rules player Brendan Fevola, who has also been passing the photo around his locker room.
By and large, top-class sportsmen marry young. Among cricketers, Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Steve Waugh and Sachin Tendulkar walked the aisle at an early age. All of these marriages survived the ensuing years. In each case, the wife had the maturity and adaptability needed to survive the demands of the distant life. As a result they were able to sustain stable family lives and solid homes as their husbands soared and sank. They understood their role, did not make any extra demands. They were the counterpoint that ambition required. Accordingly, their partners were able to focus on their cricket.
One of the things I admired about David Beckham early in his football career was his insistance the importance of his relationship with his partner and their children. I don’t like Michael Clarke as a sportsmen – though all kinds of things sublime as an athlete, I think he’s a cheat and someone who behaves with very little integrity on the field – but as a man, in this instance he has my respect.
It’s to Richard Boock, Sunday Star Times columnist, I’ll turn yet again, for nailing it:
LET’S GET this straight. Michael “Pup” Clarke has supposedly let down his team, damaged his career, underscored his immaturity and exposed himself as a simpleton.
And how has he achieved all this, precisely?
By showing compassion; by putting others ahead of himself, and by revealing a sense of responsibility to those he holds (or held) closest and dearest. Gee, it’s not hard to understand why everyone’s so upset. What a complete no-hoper.
This is about where women belong. And when sportsmen like Michael Clarke break “the rules” and place women above their relationships with other men, something quite tangible gets disrupted.
Let’s call it patriarchy – and watch all those founding fathers of cricket splutter.