Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, Brisbane January 17, 2013

Clarke defends resting of players

Michael Clarke has defended Australia's selection process throughout the summer, declaring that the policy of resting players with minor niggles made sense due to the evenness of Australia's talent base. Clarke has returned to the one-day team for the third match against Sri Lanka in Brisbane on Friday after being left out of the first two games to rest his hamstring.

It was one of several times during the summer that Australia omitted men who could have played but were kept on the sidelines as injury precautions. Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus sat out of the Perth Test against South Africa after their heavy workloads in the previous Test, and with both men suffering minor injuries, and a month later Mitchell Starc was rested from the Boxing Day Test, although it was not until this week that it was revealed he had bone spurs in his ankle.

Clarke conceded that at times during this season the public had not been made aware of injury niggles to players who were rested, although he said the team was wary of revealing information that might be used by the opposition. However, he said all the decisions made by the selection panel made sense given what the selectors knew about the players' fitness levels.

"There's a lot that is spoken about within the group that people outside the group probably aren't aware of," Clarke told reporters in Brisbane. "We've probably seen some cases throughout the past 12 months where guys have not been 100% fit or had little niggles that probably haven't been communicated as well as they needed to be to the media, and in essence to the public.

"The Perth Test match was a great example. Call it resting Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus [but] the facts were they just weren't fit enough to perform at their best. The two guys who we brought in for Siddle and Hilfenhaus [John Hastings and Mitchell Johnson], we were confident that they could do a better job at 100% than those guys at 70 or 80%."

Such decisions have brought severe criticism from a range of former players this summer, including Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Ian Chappell. But Clarke said he believed rotating out players who had minor injury worries made sense in the current era, whereas during the days when Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting were in charge of a dominant side, it would not have been a sensible move.

"The issue where the Australian team now is compared to where it was ten years ago, is ten years ago you had four, five, six, seven great players in one team, so if they were 80% fit, they were still good enough to win a game for Australia," Clarke said. "Where we sit now as a team is, it's a lot different to that.

"The gap between the 11 players that take the field and the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th player is quite close, so if you're not 100% fit to perform at your best, it's not worth the risk for the team for you to take to the field and let the team down.

"What the public wants to see is the best possible Australian team on the field, every game, and honestly I think we're trying to do that. I really do. I think the risk of playing someone when they're not 100% fit, if they do get injured, can put them out for six weeks, six months."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • j on January 18, 2013, 13:07 GMT

    All this about rotation is funny because England rotate players very successfully. Granted, and as everyone knows, England have amazing depth in their squad and Australia don't, but that's just stating the obvious.

  • Ross on January 17, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    If i'm honest i think We need the rotation policy at the moment! Personally I hate it, with a real passion, however with only some mickey mouse games againt the windies, and then a tough trip to India before back to back ashes, (with the icc world championship thrown into the middle for good measure) Australia really needs to find a stable team our they will get rolled harder than a first day pitch, for the next 12 months! Saying all that I will say that Khawaja was very unlucky to be rested for the second ODI as he deserved another chance and I would have liked to see Siddle play the Perth test against South Africa even though i know he wasn't 100%.

  • Dummy4 on January 17, 2013, 11:30 GMT

    @ proteasfan99 ..... damn straight it's just rubbish!!!

    1) A 'Clarke-less' Aust destroy SL disproving the myth of how good Clarke was as Captain to beat SL in the Test Series. 2) The Aust Selectors rip the Australian team in half and send Bailey to Captain a deflated team to play a ODI on a green top. 3) Immediately after the game Clarke and four other front line players are declared fit to play the game in Brisbane. They were too stupid even to leave the announcements for 3-4 days, too stupid to announce their fitness one at a time, too stupid to have headlines like "Starc given chance to prove fitness." or "Warner included in squad despite injury concerns" NOPE .... JUST THE MIRACULOUS REHABILITATION OF FIVE PLAYERS ON THE SAME DAY!!! 4) Selectors admit that Smith was not rotated into the Australian Team. 5) Clarke's Media Announcement ..... all obfuscation!!!

  • Eric on January 17, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    I'm tired of all this rubbish by the Australian selectors which includes Authur and Clarke himself. What do they make of us. Fools?? Are other national team players not playing the same amount of cricket. Gayle, Samuels, Narine, Steyn, Morkel, Kallis(37year old all rounder), de Villers, Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Dilshan,Matthews, Ajmal, Gul to name a few play all formats and IPL for their countries. All I have learnt from their comments is that Australian cricketers in the modern era are not fit enough to play five games in raw. The fitness of the Indian players is often questioned but they seem to be doing way better than the Australians. On fitness alone Australia do not deserve to topple the Proteas or England at the top of the rankings. I understand the Hilfenhaus and Siddle situation but not the rest of the rubbish. I fthey cant handle their players limit the T20s like England do not changing the pace attack for every test match.

  • Satish on January 17, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    You can rest people from one department if you have other department good enough to win the game for you. But what Australia did for second match is, bring in players for whole 11 and play what many call as "B" team. Had M Hussey and Mitch played the game, it would have been far different. And, they hate when someone refers it as "A" team. Why not? A team where the only experienced player is 'Comeback man' Haddin and David Hussey, they are a 'B' team indeed. Had Australia had Starc, Clint, Johnson and Doherty in the bowling ranks, they could have been a bit more competitive in the game and the inexperience in the batting would have been taken care to an extent by the bowling. Even when S Waugh was resting, he would drop the best performed player but still retained 4-5 match winners.

  • sam on January 17, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    Hastings proved that he doesn't even belong in first class cricket as a pure bowler (May be just as an all-rounder). Had Australia tried Bird or Cutting in place of that Hastings (even India if gifted that guy, thanks but we have better guys) the Perth test could have been less of a disaster. John Pastin