Former Australian captain Michael Clarke has angrily rejected suggestions he helped to create a culture that led to the ball-tampering scandal, slamming a leading broadcaster as a “headline-chasing coward”.
The war of words stems from comments Clarke made on Wednesday criticising attempts to improve the cricket team’s image in the wake of the cheating row in South Africa this year, insisting they “won’t win a game” without their infamous abrasive attitude.
“Australian cricket, I think, needs to stop worrying about being liked and start worrying about being respected,” he told a Melbourne-based radio station. “Play tough Australian cricket. Whether we like it or not, that’s in our blood.”
Long-time Clarke rival Simon Katich blasted him for “once again … missing the point”.
He said the team were caught “blatantly cheating” and that “our behaviour is a big part of that”.
Current skipper Tim Paine, who has advocated a more nice-guy approach, said the team’s friendlier way of playing was not so much about being liked, but rather about knowing when to ease up on the aggression.
But it was the reaction from the sports broadcaster and writer Gerard Whateley that sparked a scathing Instagram response from Clarke late on Wednesday. “Clarke’s interpretation of the predicament the Australian men’s Test team finds itself in is breathtaking,” said Whateley. “That he would continue to rely on the line — the fiction his and subsequent teams used to excuse all -manner of boorish behaviour — might be the single greatest piece of nonsense over the past nine months.”
Clarke said he would not stand by while “my leadership, my integrity” were attacked, insisting his conduct as an honest and rules-based captain had never been questioned. “For Gerard Whateley to insinuate that I am responsible for the ball-tampering issue makes him -nothing more than a headline-chasing -coward.
“If you think that the current number one team in the world in cricket right now puts being liked as of higher importance than being respected and playing to win inside the rules of our game then you’re as delirious as you are ill-informed.”
The cheating scandal involved Australian players using sand-paper to alter the flight of the ball in a Test match against South Africa last March in Cape Town.
Coach Darren Lehmann quit in the wake of the controversy and then-captain Steve Smith, deputy David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft received lengthy bans.
The affair also claimed the scalps of Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland and chairman David Peever.— AFP