Michael Clarke and Gerard Whateley are both standing their ground after a tense war of words over the attitude of the Australian cricket team.
Clarke on Tuesday called for the side to recapture its “tough” ways on the cricket field and stop caring about being liked, otherwise it’s “not going to win s**t”.
That prompted on Wednesday an almighty rebuke from respected sport journalist Whateley, who called Clarke a “great climate denier” and accused him of falling well short of comprehending the problem in Australian cricket.
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But most explosive was his suggestion that the behavioural descent of the Australian cricket team stemmed back to when Clarke was made Test captain.
Hours later, Clarke tweeted that Whateley was “nothing more than headline chasing coward” among other things. He then spoke on Macquarie Sports Radio to double down on his comments.
‘HEADLINE CHASING COWARD’: Pup bites back at Whateley’s burn
‘I’D SAY IT TO HIS FACE’: Clarke doubles down on Whateley burn
Now Whateley has addressed Clarke’s response, refusing to shift his strong stance on the former player.
“This is all I will add today. If Australia regresses to playing cricket the way it was in recent times, using the fictional line as the flimsy alibi, then the fall of the team and the organisation will have been for nought,” he said on SEN.
“It’s a fallacy to say that the only way to play hard competitive cricket is by being aggressive, abusive and in the face of the opposition. Competitiveness comes from within and can be done in the right spirit.
“Many have before and many do right now.
“Australia’s quest is indeed to restore respect but without being reviled and that was the descent that began under Clarke.”
Whateley also responded to being called a “coward”, saying it was because of a “lack of ability” that he didn’t step onto the cricket field. He said if he ever did take to the field with Clarke, he knew what to expect raising the former Australia captain’s infamous sledge of James Anderson in 2010-11.
My criticism of Michael Clarke yesterday was harsh, and his reply is suitably severe … I’d like to think the Gerald was deliberate.
This is all I will add today. If Australia regresses to playing cricket the way it was in recent times, using the fictional line as the flimsy alibi, then the fall of the team and the organisation will have been for nought.
It’s a fallacy to say that the only way to play hard competitive cricket is by being aggressive, abusive and in the face of the opposition. Competitiveness comes from within and can be done in the right spirit.
Many have before and many do right now.
Australia’s quest is indeed to restore respect but without being reviled and that was the descent that began under Clarke.
Mitch Johnson has written about the toxic culture that developed under Clarke’s leadership, the collapse in the sense of team that left some not even wanting to play.
The Australian cricket team belongs to the nation. Not to a captain, a coach or those passing through. It’s a special distinction that comes with an expectation that the team represents and reflects us.
It’s a truth rediscovered over the past nine months.
Tim Paine clearly understands this. He conducted an interview with Dan Brettig for ESPNCricinfo yesterday, shutting down Clarke’s criticisms.
In part he said ‘no one has spoken about being liked, certainly by the opposition. We’ve spoken about wanting to get the Australian public’s trust and make sure that clearly you want the Australian public and cricket fans to like or love the Australian Test team, certainly there’s that aspect. But from an opposition perspective, we’re not concerned about being liked one bit.’
Paine is going to need our support through this series and beyond to achieve the recalibration, it will be the overarching story of the summer.
As for the courage to play – and it was a complete lack of ability, but let’s call it courage – I’m pretty sure I know what I’d get from Michael Clarke … (audio plays Clarke threatening James Anderson with a broken arm)