Australia v West Indies, 1st ODI, Perth January 31, 2013

Clarke backs Howard ... and Warne

18

Australia's captain Michael Clarke performed a feat of rare diplomacy on the eve of his side's ODI series against the West Indies as he simultaneously managed to balance his friendship with Shane Warne, and his fealty to Cricket Australia's high performance chief Pat Howard.

Of those who have reacted to Warne's parallel universe for Australian cricket in the past 24 hours, Clarke's response was the one caught in the most invidious position. He is both a part of the selection panel that advocates concepts Warne cannot stomach, and also an eager sponge for all the cricket knowledge the former Test leg spinner and his own mentor Ian Chappell can provide.

Caught between Warne and Howard, Clarke trod a narrow path down the middle, stating the former was entitled to his opinion and would be listened to by those in power, but also reiterating his belief that the latter was doing a strong job in the face of much criticism from those unwilling to watch the high-end of the game be managed by a former rugby international.

"Warnie and I are great friends and we always will be," Clarke said in Perth. "Everybody's entitled to their opinion, and he's certainly earned the right to voice his opinion on Australian cricket. I speak to Warnie often about things I can do personally to improve my game. Not only has he been a great friend, but he's a mentor to me as well.

"Pat Howard has been doing a fantastic job. A lot of people will take a lot of notice of what Warnie has to say. But people have jobs and are trying to do that job to the best of their ability. And that's all we can do. I'm a part of that as well. The people who make the decisions on who gets employed, they'll definitely take notice. They'll read what Warnie had to say. And I'm sure they'll do whatever they have to do."

Among other targets of Warne's push for change in the Australian game, the national selector John Inverarity declined to comment, other than to say he was happy he lived in a country granted a free press and unfettered expression of ideas. Warne had suggested Inverarity be replaced by his fellow selector and friend Rod Marsh.

The national coach Mickey Arthur, who Warne argued should be replaced by the former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, was less diplomatic in his assessment: taking issue with Warne's clear preference for the simpler ways of the past - namely the 1970s when his mentor Chappell led a team of self-reliant and contrasting characters.

"He's living in a dream world to be honest," Arthur told 6PR Radio in Perth. "It's just not possible [to always pick your best team] with the amount of time the players have at their disposal. He's living in a dream world and clearly he's not up with the times.

"We don't sit there and rotate players and think, 'he is going to play here and he is going to play here and there'. What we do, is we manage our players. So it's about player management. If there is a player who is not 100 percent fit, we don't take the risk with him. We want guys that are going out on the field 100 percent fine and ready to go all of the time."

Peter Siddle, Warne's fellow Victorian and one of the players referred to as part of a strong core of the current Test team, offered the following view: "That's just Warnie being Warnie. Warnie has done that when he played. He just likes the limelight."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jimbond on February 2, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    One positive I take from Warne's comment is about Fleming. Is anyone in the NZ board listening. You have such a person in NZ, please make use of him, make him the coach- and replace Buchanan with Martin Crowe/Wright, and make Taylor captain once more.

  • HOMEBREW on February 2, 2013, 0:34 GMT

    Well, I guess if we're hiring "Outsiders" maybe we could hire Ian Thorpe as a "How to turn your arm over coach". I also hear 400m runner John Stephenson is looking for work for the next 6 months, maybe a running between the wickets coach role for him? While we're at it, with the arggy barggy the other night between Sri Lanka & Australia I think we could maybe have a rugby league coach hidden behind the scenes somewhere? Jokes aside cricket in Australia should be run & coached BY AUSTRALIANS! We have enough tallent here. Look at all our coaches that go overseas? What incentive from CA do we have to keep them here?

  • RandyOZ on February 1, 2013, 22:21 GMT

    Warne is spot on, Arthur has absolutely ruined cricket in Australia and Sutherland also has a lot to answer for!

  • gibboj on February 1, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    I think rather than this, rest a game play a game, rotation policy they should give all player 2-3 months of the year where they don't play in order to have a rest and a proper training period.

  • Andrew202 on February 1, 2013, 3:24 GMT

    Peter Siddle could have won us the third test if he'd played? What???? He didn't win us the second test so what indication is there that if he'd been picked he would have changed the result of the third test? Give me a break.

    And if he hadn't been carrying on letting everyone know how stuffed he was towards the end of the second test then maybe he would have played in that third match. Personally, I think a lot of other bowlers over the years wouldn't have let anyone see how exhausted they were like Siddle did. Anyway, it sure made him a prime candidate to get rested.

  • Meety on February 1, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    @Jono Makim - agree with what you say, although the question about Bird v Hastings, just bear in mind that Hastings FC stats were top class in the Shield (3rd at the time I think). Some of the games Bird played in - were real Green tops, so the NSP were unsure. Also - the thought-process (ultimately wrong), was that they needed a good into the wind bowler at Perth, which would of been Hilfy. Before the Test, I wanted to pick Hastings instead of Watson & play 4 specialist pacers + Lyon. @ LillianThomson on (January 31 2013, 12:37 PM GMT) - Siddle claims to have made the call to not play @ the WACA. IF it was his call, Arthurs had nothing to do with it. I am no sold on Arthurs, but I don't believe he is "out of his depth" either. He is 100% better than Nielson (low benchmark).

  • Moppa on February 1, 2013, 0:38 GMT

    @Jono Makim - spot on, agreed on all counts!

  • Ms.Cricket on January 31, 2013, 23:53 GMT

    Wanie is definitely Warnie. However some of the comments are very practical. Mickey Arthur has to go, he seems to be a stubborn buffon and his results against good teams like SAF and England (2012 ODI series whitewash) have been poor. No player can be 100% fit alll the time so Arthur is living in his own dream world there. John Inverarity is unfortunately Hilditch MkII. We need people who have experienced high international success in the mix - like Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, Rod Marsh etc.

  • bumsonseats on January 31, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    the aussies were right to not pick siddle the guy was absolutely shot. in hindsight he was over bowled in the 2nd test and i can understand that as they pushed for victory.its alright saying if only he had been there you might have won. the thing that most countries do is to play back to back tests another 3/4 days and he might well have played. but boards will always try for extra revenue.this might not come about but for the saffas and the aussies wanting home tests at xmas.then the saffars go and play a limited overs game on that date.lol

  • PratUSA on January 31, 2013, 17:06 GMT

    Irrespective of who is right, the amount of cricket played these days is certainly a lot. More crucially the the gap between matches is much shorter then in the past, which has made it difficult for players to be at their best week after week. Still, I like England's policy of ensuring that best XI is available to play test cricket, as much as possible, and resting primarily applies to ODI/T20I legs of series. Test cricket is not same when best XI for the condition are not playing while ODIs & T20Is can still be watchable if say 11 out of best 20 are playing.

  • No featured comments at the moment.