Pup to Top Dog: Michael Clarke talks to FOX Sports Asia

8,643 test runs, 7,981 ODI runs, 394 international appearances (139 of those as captain) and two ICC World Cups; the figures speak for themselves. Michael Clarke is one of the greatest cricketers of all-time.

In 2015, he put down his bat after guiding Australia through the summer’s Ashes series and to a fifth Cricket World Cup at the MCG.

Now, Clarke is returning to the sport in Hong Kong to play for Kowloon Cantons in the inaugural DTC T20 Blitz.

The Aussie legend spoke to FOX Sports Asia about the tournament and cricket in the region…

FOX Sports Asia (FSA): Michael, welcome to Hong Kong.

Michael Clarke (MC): It’s so great to be here. It’s my first time in the city and I’m loving it! A lot of my friends have travelled through on business over the years and they’ve said it’s a fantastic place to come. When I was a lot younger we used to fly through Hong Kong on our way to England, but I never really got to see the sights. I’m really here to focus on the cricket, but hopefully I’ll find a couple of hours to see the sights.

FSA: What attracted you to come and play in the DTC Hong Kong T20 Blitz?

MC: It was the opportunity to help Hong Kong Cricket. Knowing that there was a tournament on was a bonus. I’d love to see the game grow all around the world. When I got the opportunity to come and help the Hong Kong Boy’s, Men’s and Women’s teams, I grabbed it with both hands.

FSA: How much did you know about the Hong Kong cricketing scene before you came out?

MC: Obviously, everyone knows the Sixes were here. I’ve followed my mates who have been here and spoken a lot about cricket both here and in Singapore. I guess I’ve always had an interest in trying to grow cricket in countries that don’t get a lot of exposure, unlike Australia, England, or India. I had said for a long time if I get the opportunity I would love to come and help out.

FSA: Recently, Scottish captain Preston Mommsen criticised the ICC’s move to cut the number of Associate teams in the 50 over World Cup. As Hong Kong is part of this group, what are your thoughts on the matter?

MC: I guess there are reasons for everything, but I feel the more people playing the better. I would like to see more countries, and I don’t care in what format. I want to see boys and girls all around the world have the opportunity to play this great game. Hopefully we can see countries like Hong Kong grow, expand, get more exposure and have more success.

FSA: Hong Kong have now featured in two World Twenty20s, famously beating Bangladesh in 2014. What do you see as the next step for them?

MC: It’s the structure and the system, trying to get more kids involved to start with. Obviously, the more stock you have, the better the standard is going to be. So I think it’s both; Looking after the shop front, so seeing the Men’s and Women’s teams have success, but also growing the game from grassroots giving girls and boys the opportunity to be able to start up and play.

FSA: Finally, will we ever see you put on the green and gold again?

MC: Only if I’m putting it on in the house! I loved playing for Australia and I love international cricket, but my time is done. I retired at the right time. If I’m going to be playing any cricket it’s going to be focused on the shorter format.

Cameron Tucker & Bimal Mirwani

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