Aussie skipper gets back to Twitter

|| October 22, 2013

Michael Clarke has become active on Twitter in the last two weeks, coinciding with the release of extracts from Ricky Ponting's memoir.

It would have been awkward reading for the Australian cricket captain. The popular Ponting raised criticisms of Clarke's time as vice-captain.

The story drew plenty of discussion from sports followers. From experience, few things pique interest levels like insights into the Australian cricket camp.

Since those extracts came out, Clarke has tweeted 17 times. Doesn't sound like much? Compare it to what came before that - a collection of retweets and bland messages supporting sponsors. 

Importantly, Clarke hasn't once referred to Ponting's thoughts. It's not his style and he would have to think carefully before using a 140-character tweet to respond to a book nudging 700 pages.

But Clarke has clearly made a decision to better engage with his 572,000 Twitter followers. That's a big, captive audience, without counting the many more people reached by retweets.

It's important for Clarke to engage with such a large audience - and he can control the platform. Which he likes, going on past stories involving the likeable batsman.

As a cricket writer, I covered Clarke's first Australian tour to the Caribbean in 2002-03 and interviewed him at the team hotel in London the night he learned he would make his Test debut in India. At all times, Clarke was a pleasure to interview or to share a beer with. He was always ultra polite, inquisitive, used humour well and spoke with respect for his outstanding teammates.

When his ghostwriters presented his newspaper column for approval, Clarke would take enormous care when reading over the words. He would change some seemingly harmless lines because he wasn't 100 per cent happy. With the exception of the longhand expert Steve Waugh, there may not have been an Australian cricketer who has laboured over his words as much as Clarke.

But mystery still surrounds the real Michael Clarke. Yet he has a good message to sell. Clarke can reveal more of himself in a controlled way on Twitter. He would be wise to continue using it.

- Michael Crutcher