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'Unfinished business' behind Clarke return

31 January 2016

Clarke played his last Test at The Oval during the 2015 Ashes // Getty

Test and ODI legend says he still has ambitions in the shortest form of the game

Former Australia captain Michael Clarke says he has "unfinished business" in the Twenty20 format of the sport.

Clarke, who has announced he will return to cricket via his Sydney grade team Western Suburbs on February 20, retired from internationals following Australia's 3-2 Ashes defeat last August but if all goes well in his comeback match, it's the 20-over version of the game in which he may look to reinvigorate his career through tournaments such as the KFC Big Bash League and Indian Premier League.

Quick Single: Clarke announces cricket comeback

The 34-year-old spoke on Channel Nine's Today this morning to discuss the reports surrounding his return to the game.  

"I'm not really making a cricket comeback, because I (only) retired from international cricket, but now I'm playing for my grade club Western Suburbs," Clarke said.  

"I got an invitation a couple of weeks ago to come back and play a game for Wests, and I said yes, and I really can't wait – I'm looking forward to it.

"Obviously I've seen the papers today, and it says I'm coming back to play cricket for Australia and all sorts of things, but my focus right now – I haven't picked up a bat for five months since I retired from international cricket – but Wests asked me to play, and I can't wait, so that is my focus right now."

Watch: Clarke's Test career remembered

Asked if he would be interested in playing at a higher level beyond his initial comeback match, Clarke made plain his ambition to pursue his T20 options.  

"My focus is playing for Western Suburbs right now. If I miss it and love it like I'm hoping I do, then I'll be really focusing on the shorter form of the game," he said.

"I still believe I have some unfinished business in the Twenty20 department of cricket, and you've got BBL, you've got IPL – you've got a number of tournaments around the world that allow you the opportunity to go and play that."

Weekend of February 20-21 Pratten Park, Ashfield. Looking forward to playing with my grade club where I started as a 13 year old boy.

A photo posted by Michael Clarke (@michaelclarkeofficial) on

Clarke played six matches for Pune Warriors in the 2012 IPL and has never played Big Bash cricket despite signing with both Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Stars, prioritising his international commitments as Australia captain.

The 115-Test veteran had been signed on to play for the Stars in BBL|05 but pulled out of the deal shortly after announcing his international retirement, citing the need to spend some time away from the game.

He also played 34 T20 internationals, scoring one fifty.

Watch: Final day of the Ashes

"When I was playing for Australia I was really focused on Test and one-day cricket," Clarke said. "Now I actually have the opportunity to focus on the shorter form of the game, if I enjoy this game on the 20th of February."

Speaking with AAP, he added: "I didn't play a game in the Big Bash. 

"I was resting my body through that time to make sure I was fit for Test and one-day cricket," he said. "Now I have the chance if I do enjoy it, that I can really focus on the shorter form and changing parts of my game to suit that form of cricket.

"It's the one area that I certainly feel like I haven't fulfilled my potential. If I miss it and enjoy it, that will be my focus – to come and play some Twenty20 cricket and try and master that format."

Clarke spent much of his career managing a debilitating back condition, but says a far lighter workload in retirement has dramatically improved the problem.    

"That's probably the reason I've said yes to Western Suburbs; my body feels unbelievable," he explained. "I've still been training and doing fitness since walking away from cricket, but my back had had time to settle.

"The stress and pressure of playing sport at the highest level, you're pushing your body to the max 24-7, so to be able to walk away from that for nearly five months now has really helped my body."

In his initial comeback interview, Clarke refused to rule out the possibility of reigniting his career in all forms.

"If I do (enjoy playing for Wests), the option is there to train the entire winter and then we’ll see what happens," he told News Ltd.

"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.

"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."

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