‘I am a safe driver than crash driver'

In another role... Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke speaks to a TV journalist during the International Rally of Queensland. Clarke is open to taking up rallying after retiring from cricket.-

Michael Clarke, who drove a BP Ultimate Mitsubishi Lancer Evo in the International Rally of Queensland recently, enjoyed his first foray into motorsport. “It well and truly bowled me over,” said the Australian cricket captain. By R. Venkatnarayan.

Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke swapped his baggy green cap for a rallying suit as he took part in the International Rally of Queensland recently. Only a few days after getting married to his girlfriend Kyly Boldy in a secret ceremony, he took over the wheel of a gravel rally car in the Queensland event which is part of the Bosch Australian Rally Championship. Driving a BP Ultimate Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, Clarke, who had just flown in from India after a short stint with Pune Warriors in the India Premier League, enjoyed his first foray into motorsport. He, however, was not timed in what was deemed as an unofficial stage one run.

Clarke, a veteran of 83 Tests, took part in two stages of the International Rally of Queensland. He then said he was open to seriously taking up the sport once his cricket career comes to an end.

Clarke managed to stay out of trouble in the two stages despite heavy rains making rallying difficult. He touched speeds of up to 160km/h on the tricky, challenging forest roads near Imbul. He was guided by one of Australia's top navigators, Mark Stacey.

Clarke spoke to Sportstar about his rallying experience and cricket after the event in Queensland.

On his rallying experience

It was a really enjoyable experience, and it well and truly bowled me over. Cricket is easy compared to this, but I would certainly be interested in doing more of this (rallying) after I finish with first-class cricket; particularly if BP Ultimate is kind enough to give me a car like this.

I took it pretty easy and made sure I brought the car back in one piece; that was the most important thing. I would rather be called a safe driver than crash driver.

In the first stage, it was a bit of an adrenalin rush. Later, it was more about learning and controlling the car. It's been a great experience. I had a great insight into how tough rallying could be.

On speeds he touched

I could not see the ‘speedo', what with the camera mounted on it. It (speed) was probably good. But don't know whose face seemed more worried, mine or my co-driver's!

On his next mission

Maybe when I give up cricket I could look forward to rallying, but the immediate task is the England tour. With not much gap between the end of the IPL and the England series, that is my focus right now.

On selection job and Australian cricket

Selection has become a tough job with so many options available. This is good and exciting for Australian cricket. I think there is good depth. I've always said you need to have a good mix of youth and experience in a successful team, and I think we've got that at the moment. I think the strength of Australian cricket has always been its first-class system.

On Mitchell Johnson

Mitch has been bowling really well. When he is at his best, he is always an asset in any form of the game. I have been in touch with him and really look forward to him being in the squad.

On Indian Premier League

I loved it. I had a great time with Pune Warriors. It's certainly an eye-opener. It's hard to describe until you actually go there. Especially, the way the Indians love the game and the way they back their team. I really enjoyed it.