There’s absolutely no doubt that the story of Travis Cloke has been a well-documented and a real rollercoaster of a saga throughout the course of this year. In fact, that’s likely an understatement.
His contract, fluctuating between six and seven figures and rotating between numerous teams, has been the pivotal talking point. Many offers from Collingwood have been discussed, tweaked and turned down and it’s apparent that it’s now leaving the Clokes, the Magpies and their supporters frustrated.
However, when it comes down to it, those numbers are practically irrelevant. It’s the analysis of his on-field form that tells the tale.
As we know, Travis Cloke’s numbers are well down, even with an emerging midfield with the rise of Dayne Beams and Steele Sidebottom and the consistency of Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury.
45 goals from 21 games isn’t a great deal in comparison to his 69 from 25 last year, and given the hype and excitement generated from his strong 2011, it’s a disappointment.
But, it’s worth noting that it still sits as his second-best season tally in his career, with it yet to finish.
It’s a positive and a negative, per se; apparent poor form this season is set to result in a 50-goal season, and on form, a top ten finish in the Coleman Medal, yet a supposedly elite power forward’s second-best season comes at just over two goals per game.
Another interesting take on it is the goals he kicks per game. In 2011, he went goalless in 8% of his games – a very low number considering that only three of the top goalkickers this season have not had one goalless game – and kicked over two and over four goals in 56% and 16% of games respectively.
This year, he has nearly doubled his output of goalless games, and nearly halved his output in the other categories.
Another massive drop is his contested marking, despite him leading the league.
This year, he’s taking 2.8 contested marks per game against top four sides. It’s a healthy figure, but against his 4.7 per game against those sides from last year, it’s a very large drop.
His disposals per game have also taken a similar drop in the same field, from 14.8 to 10.7. As have his marks, from 7.5 to 4.5.
In fact, in terms of ladder position, the only fields where his statistics haven’t taken a significant drop (or rise, if frees against are to be included) are against the lower half of the ladder.
With bags of six and four goals – two of his three best hauls for the year – coming against Greater Western Sydney and Port Adelaide, is this the form line of an AFL powerhouse forward?
Beating up on the lower teams, as shown by the fact that he kicks 50% more goals against the bottom ten versus the top four, which in turn is 50% more than the other half of the top eight, doesn’t earn that moniker. Ever.
Who knows what’s wrong, really. But worth a mention is that he kicked 39 goals for the season on his way to a best and fairest in 2007, in which Collingwood missed a Grand Final by a kick, which was preceded by 6 goals from 15 games in 2006 and exactly 100 goals from the following three seasons.
He may well be a sporadic confidence player, and never does that warrant a large contract. We may very well remember Cloke as someone who could dominate for a season and be solid but never spectacular for another three.
Now, from that, is he worth the millions of dollars clubs are willing to throw his way, and is he able to give that worth back to Collingwood this season and a potential second club over the next few?
If he is, then Jack Riewoldt, Jarrad Waite, Tom Hawkins, Jay Schulz, James Podsiadly, Stephen Milne and Mitch Clark, who undoubtedly would be receiving less, are worth more, based off their evidently superior form this year, and against top eight sides most especially.
Cloke’s career to date has suggested that his best can ask for seven figures. But hey, Xavier Ellis’ best output nearly won him a Norm Smith in 2008.
In terms of consistency, Travis Cloke is nowhere near worth seven figures.
For Collingwood’s sake, and for Cloke’s, it’ll need the game-turning half of the Jekyll and Hyde-like form he’s represented over his career to push the Magpies deep into September.
And, off that form, it’s the only way that he can prove that he deserves the big dollars on offer.