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'Standing down as selector one of best things I've done' - Clarke

Daniel Brettig

October 4, 2013

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke in conversation with Darren Lehmann ahead of the first ODI, Headingley, September 5, 2013
Michael Clarke believes Darren Lehmann has helped ease some of the problems in the team © Getty Images
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Michael Clarke has admitted his relinquishment of selection duties before the Ashes allowed him to grow closer to other players in the Australian team. He also acknowledged the cultural concerns raised by Michael Hussey before his retirement were among "a lot of things" not up to standard in the team leading into this year's dire results in India and England.

Hussey stated that Clarke's dual role as captain and selector had affected the Australian dressing room during his final two summers as part of the team, causing players to "keep their heads down" whenever their leader passed through. For his part, Clarke said the selection role had deprived him of time to spend with the rest of the team, as long meetings and phone hookups sapped his schedule and mental energy.

"You'd have to talk to the other guys about how they felt, but personally I think standing down as a selector has been one of the best things I've done since taking over the captaincy," Clarke said. "It is a full-time job and they deserve a lot of credit for the work that goes in to being a selector, but giving that time back to me has allowed me to give it back to the team, spending time with the boys whether it be longer at training or off the field.

"Instead of selection meetings and being on the phone for hours, I'm having coffee, lunch, breakfast with my team-mates now and trying to help all of us. They're giving me their time as well to help me become a better player and a better captain. I have more time for them, definitely."

As early as the 2012 West Indies tour, Hussey had become uneasy about the direction the team was taking, despite a sequence of strong results including a 4-0 Test series win at home over India, and the subsequent 2-0 result in the Caribbean. Hussey revealed in his autobiography, Underneath the Southern Cross, that he had met with the former coach Mickey Arthur to express his concerns formally. Clarke said Hussey did not raise them directly with him, but did not deny there had been problems.

"I was conscious of a lot of things that were going on round that group that weren't of a standard that was acceptable, in my opinion, of representing your country and being part of a team that wants to get back to No. 1 in the world, hence what happened in India," Clarke said. "In regards to guys just looking after themselves, that's probably a question for the other guys. For me personally, I've been very fortunate the teams I've played with at a young age, even starting with NSW, I was always shown and educated that you can't always have good days in this game. 

"You're going to have some tough times and you have to enjoy the success of other players, and when the team wins, that's got to feel just as good as you making a hundred - I was brought up that way. I can't answer that on behalf of the other guys, but there was obviously a lot of things going on over a period of time that I didn't think were good enough.

"I think the media and the public got to see the frustration and the consequences of that. But I can guarantee that has changed now, I think Darren Lehmann's done a wonderful job since he came in, the feeling in the group is outstanding and the boys are all heading in the same direction."

Arthur's successor, Lehmann, said he had instituted team rules and regulations to ensure standards were met and players were considerate of each other. "That's Mike's view and he's one of the greats of the game. But I haven't seen that in the time that I've been there, and we're trying to go very much in that team direction," he said. "We have some team rules and regulations they have to follow, if they don't adhere to them then there's always trouble from the coach. Occasionally I get grumpy but not most of the time.

"It's strange to say this, we lost the Ashes but it was one of the best tours I've been on. For getting to know the players and the way they gelled as a group on and off the field and with the staff, it was a really good tour."

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

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Posted by ScottStevo on (October 7, 2013, 12:03 GMT)

@Joseph Langford, no, everyone accepts that the team culture detoriated under Arthur's control. Sure, Clarke's role of selector didn't help issues, but do you genuinely think it was Clarke selecting NSW players over those from say SA or QLD? I think you're hugely overestimating Clarke's role within the selection process, mate. So, name me one player that if Clarke wasn't there would've gained invaluable experience? So much so that missing Clarke from our team would be justifiable? Even though I already know the answer to this question is 0 as there's not a player in our country at present that's anywhere near the class of batsman that Clarke is. I do agree that our selection policy has been ridiculous for some time, but I wouldn't say it's down to state bias.

Posted by   on (October 7, 2013, 8:53 GMT)

@ ScottStevo ..... Everyone now accepts that the Australian Team culture has deteriorated under Clarke's Captaincy ..... something that I have commented about for the past 2-years. Over this period substandard players have been selected for tests ..... again most people now accept this. Better players ..... outside the borders of NSW ..... have been shunned by selectors. If Clarke was not in the team, better players would have been in the Australian Team ..... how many cricket players have lost opportunities and valuable experience because Clarke was Captain when incapable players were given opportunity after opportunity and routinely collapsed under average and substandard bowling attacks.

Posted by ScottStevo on (October 6, 2013, 18:25 GMT)

@Joseph Langford, you are kidding! Ever think how ordinary our team would be without Clarke in recent years? To even suggest that our batting line up would look stronger without Clarke is quite frankly dumbfounding. Clarke is our best and most consistent batsman by a margin so great it's hard to even quantify! As for state bias, other than whinging about it, who would you select differently? Let's hear your side...Also, I think it's clear that Katich was dropped for his relationship with woes with Clarke and somewhat his age. No secret there!

Posted by ScottStevo on (October 6, 2013, 18:08 GMT)

@BEST7, I disagree in part. Hodge was probably unluckier in that he was certainly good enough to be selected to play and robbed 5 years of cricket. Katich was unluckily pushed out of the squad and robbed of a year or 2. Both he and Hodge are at the wrong end of their 30s and shouldn't even be discussed for selection for any Aus team. Hodge hasn't even played FC since '09 when he retired, so I have no clue why his name is even mentioned! Also disagree re Hodge not cutting during testing times considering he only played 6 tests all up and after his 200 he played 3 more tests - one in which he made 67 and 27 and another he was 27*. So I'm not sure where he failed miserably??

Posted by BEST7 on (October 6, 2013, 12:38 GMT)

@ DMK12155 : Are you suggesting that Hodge is a better player than Katich? You got your stats wrong mate.. Just because Hodge do well in T20's that doesn't mean that he can do well in tests. True he scored 200+ against SA in Perth but that match was played in a batting paradise.. After that in real testing conditions, he failed miserably. That is why he was dropped. Katich has a far more formidable FC record than that of Hodge... Katich was the unluckiest, and badly treated guy in Aussie cricket history. Get your facts right..

Posted by DMK12155 on (October 6, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

@ wolverine... and all others who are feeling so sad about what happened to Katich, why on earth no one is talking about Brad Hodge??? Why wasn't he given a extended run with the Aussie test team is beyond me to be honest.. He scored a double hundred against South Africa in Perth... Brad Hodge was the unluckiest, and badly treated guy in Aussie cricket history I guess... Just look at his first class record.. even though he is almost 40, he is still fitter than most guys in the current Aussie test team... and definitely better batsman than Phillip Hughes/ Rogers/ Katich/ Watto etc...

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (October 6, 2013, 4:32 GMT)

@Millhouse79, Completely wrong. Money doesn't buy a Warne or a McGrath, Gilchrist, Ponting, Hayden etc. Talent is talen. The All blacks are from New Zealand, a country with only 4 million people, not enough money to compete with the rest of the world but they are still the best because they have talented players.

Posted by   on (October 5, 2013, 23:20 GMT)

@ maddy20 ..... you are kidding. Take out Manchester and his scores are 0, 23, 28, 51, 6, 21, 7, 28*. Ever think that if Clarke wasn't in the team we would have had a stronger batting line up that wasn't just filled with NSWmen.

@ Wolverine ..... the selection Rogers surely raises questions about the age issues given for that dropping/non-selection of Katich ..... something that the media surely do not want to comment on.

@ siddhartha87 ..... you are failing to recognise two factors 1) Wade was keeping to Lyon and Wade cannot keep to spin. Wade dropped several catches and missed stumping opportunities when Lyon was bowling. 2) Clarke's Captaincy was terrible on some of these occasions ..... he should have come out of the slips and sat at long off to calm Lyon down. Surprisingly, he actually did this in the Ashes Tour for some bowlers.

Posted by   on (October 5, 2013, 22:56 GMT)

As soon as the media decide to look through the spin of the ACB that is spoon fed to them for regurgitation, we will see an immediate improvement in Australian Cricket. The principle problem with Australian Cricket is the ACB. They pick the selectors, they pick the Captain, they pick the coach, they pick the trainers.

Selectors have a pronounced bias to only select teams that are made up of NSWmen, that cannot win against the better test teams and struggle against those with little talent.

The Captain/Selector cannot build a team, because they are too busy trying to be his mate as opposed to being a team player.

The Coach ..... well let's just say that the discipline was white-anted.

The Trainers ..... well let's just say that their principle talent is destroying bowlers because it is quite evident that they cannot iron out flaws in batting techniques and can't identify technical errors in bowling actions.

Posted by cricketsubh on (October 5, 2013, 16:46 GMT)

last 1.5 year aussi selection have been out of this world it started in lat summer when s.a tour aus .they pick quiny and drop him after 2 test and they rested their key bowlers like siddle and hilfenhus for the last test when the series is still odis vs srilanka and w.l. they rested key players without a rigin .they pick odi t20 players like maxwell.smith.daherty.henrices for the test tour of india. ythey pick inexpereance players like coultanal and mith marsh and out of from player like wade.warner for the ct2013 .and now they rested clarke for the ashes .the selection policy need to be changed if aus want to back as no 1 cricketing nation in the world .captain need to lead their side in every game sry clarke should not take rest .in cricket captain is mean .

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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