Former Test captain Michael Clarke wants to make a cricket comeback to help Australia recover from the ball-tampering scandal.

After two years in retirement, and with Australian skipper Steve Smith, opening batsman David Warner and young gun Cameron Bancroft all serving suspensions, Clarke is offering his services free.

"I would do anything to help the Australian cricket team," he said.

Over coffee at a Darlinghurst cafe on Thursday, 37-year-old Clarke said: "Age is age. Is 17 too young?

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"I've never cared about age. Brad Hogg played at 45.

"I don't think it's about a number. I think it's about commitment and devotion.

"It's like getting back on a bike. I'm as fit and healthy as I've ever been. The time away has been great for my body."

Michael Clarke and Steven Smith leave the field for a rain delay. Photo / Getty Images
Michael Clarke and Steven Smith leave the field for a rain delay. Photo / Getty Images

Clarke arrived wearing gym gear, having just finished two hours of hard yakka, like he does every morning.

He is a picture of health, but anxious about his offer to help out and how the Australian public will react.

This isn't about dancing on Smith's grave. It's a very temporary solution — not to be considered in six months, but now.

"To be honest, I'm so nervous about the headline and how it's perceived," he said. "But I can't just sit here and do nothing. I feel I owe the game too much.
"I've experienced a lot of great things in cricket but some tough times as well.

"I've got the experience to help these young players and that's where our focus should be right now until the other guys come back."

The trio have accepted their sanctions, with Smith and Warner banned until March 28 next year. The star pair will miss 48 international matches — 12 Tests, 29 one-day internationals and seven Twenty20 internationals.

Low-profile Tasmanian Tim Paine, who was not even keeping for his state when he was recalled for the Ashes, is facing a monumental challenge to lead the side in Smith's absence.

Clarke, who left for India on Friday for his IPL broadcasting commitments, has SMSed his offer to Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland but is still waiting for a reply.

It is understood he will do net practice while on the subcontinent in case the call comes.

Clarke and wife Kyly have one child, two-year-old Kelsey Lee.

He doesn't want a contract or any payment, just the opportunity to help.

"I don't need a job," Clarke said. "I'm very happy with my life and my girls.

"I think all of Australia is now feeling a bit for the suspended guys after their press conferences, their remorse and all the tears.

Michael Clarke celebrates after reaching a century at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Photo / Getty Images
Michael Clarke celebrates after reaching a century at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Photo / Getty Images

"But I'm really worried about the 11 blokes who are left to take the field.

"At the moment they're unsure how to play.

"It's like they're treading on eggshells. They're scared.

"Do they say anything? Can they get aggressive? They don't want to offend. They're scared of the perception they're not liked. They are so unsure of how they should play."

Clarke is also concerned about how they will be treated overseas.

In two months there is a limited overs series in England, where the press coverage of the ball tampering has been the most vicious.

England players form a guard of honour as Australian captain Michael Clarke walks out to bat in his final test. Photo / Getty Images
England players form a guard of honour as Australian captain Michael Clarke walks out to bat in his final test. Photo / Getty Images

In summer there is a four-Test series at home against India, ranked the No. 1 team in the world.

"They'll be called cheats," Clarke said. "Crowds will abuse them. They'll go for their throats.

"There's no sympathy or feeling sorry for players at the highest level of sport. It will be tough with no love lost.

"All opponents from here on will go hard and do anything they can to take advantage of the current situation. It's why some decisions need to be made ASAP."

Clarke feels the crisis could set Australian cricket back for years.

"We're now ranked fourth in the world." he points out. "I'm worried about it. I don't want us to be like the West Indies.

"I want mums and dads to want their kids to keep playing cricket. It's as close to my heart as anything has been to me.

If it's not as a player, Clarke will help out wherever or whenever required.

"We're not talking about the next five years. It's the next six months and we need to fix it now.

"If Cricket Australia asks me, I'd drop everything to help out."

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