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Warne attacks Ponting, Cook

Daniel Brettig

November 4, 2013

Comments: 188 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting watch the runs flow, Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, 2nd day, Perth, December 1, 2012
Shane Warne has suggested that Ricky Ponting's written critique of Michael Clarke in his autobiography was the result of bitterness © Getty Images
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Shane Warne has accused Ricky Ponting of being motivated by "jealousy" in criticising his Australian captaincy successor Michael Clarke, while also asserting that Alastair Cook will risk losing the Ashes for England should he continue to lead in a "negative" manner.

In a typically showstopping stream of opinions ahead of Australia's return bout with England, Warne leapt to the defence of his "best friend" Clarke, arguing that Ponting's written critique of the incumbent leader in his autobiography was the result of bitterness. He also said Ponting's actions did not compare favourably with those of Allan Border and Mark Taylor, the "two best captains" the former legspinner played under.

"I know he beats himself up mercilessly about being the only Australian captain ever to lose three Ashes," Warne said in a press conference call with English media for the Ashes broadcaster Sky Sports. "And I know Ricky made that horrific decision to put England in at Edgbaston in 2005. I don't want to be mean about Ricky - he's a good guy and he tried to do the best he could.

"But to bring up the stuff about Pup [Clarke] - maybe there was a bit of jealousy, because Pup was batting so well and Ricky was not making any runs. To me, Michael's very well respected. The best captains keep stuff in the dressing room. No-one ever finds out about it. That's what good leaders are about. So to hear all this in a book is pretty ordinary."

Cook's leadership of England has thus far been characterised by a close relationship with the coach Andy Flower and a calm guiding hand rather than any great invention in the field. England's preferred approach is of a more conservative nature than that of Clarke and the Australian coach Darren Lehmann.

"If Michael Clarke did the same things, I'd say he was negative, but he's not. That's not the way he captains," Warne said. "Cook can be negative, boring, not very imaginative - and still win and be pretty happy. But I think he needs to be more imaginative. If Australia play well and he continues to captain the way he does, I think England are going to lose the series.

"I don't think he can captain like that - and I'm not working in any capacity whatsoever for Cricket Australia. Darren Lehmann is a good mate of mine, and Michael Clarke is my best friend, of course I speak to them a lot but I call it as I see it. And I'm not the only one who thinks Alastair Cook is a negative captain.

"He lets the game drift. He waits for the game to come to him. I don't think he can captain the side like that. For me, Michael Clarke is the best captain in the world at the moment. He just has a lot of imagination. Cook would never have a leg slip, bat-pad and leg gully, like Clarke did for Jonathan Trott in the summer."

To round off his serve, Warne said England would do well not to play Joe Root at the top of the order during the series, suggesting the young Yorkshireman would be "crucified" facing the new ball on Australian pitches. Warne preferred to see Michael Carberry as Cook's opening partner, with Joe Root to bat at No. 6 instead of Jonny Bairstow.

"I don't think Root's an opener because of his technique. Australia found him out in England, and in Australian conditions they'll find him out more. You can't get stuck on the crease in Australia because of the pace of the wickets.

"It could be crucifying him if he has got to face Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson on some fast, bouncy pitches. I think he's just going to nick off a lot. Besides Lord's, where he got 180, Australia really did have his number."

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

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Posted by ScottStevo on (November 6, 2013, 20:41 GMT)

@maximum6, no, not at all. In fact, 3-0 was a massively flattering scoreline, yet Eng were more than rightfully the victorious side, although I don't think they played anywhere near that much better than Aus the resultant score would suggest.

@JG2704, I'm sure you've seen loads of posts from me remarking about Aus shortcomings. The unfortunate truth, however, is exactly that - Eng have played avg test cricket and yet it's still been good enough to beat Aus; and comfortably at times. I'm hoping this series is a stop to that ;)

Posted by JG2704 on (November 6, 2013, 13:04 GMT)

@ScottStevo on (November 5, 2013, 19:26 GMT) I don't think anyone (other than the obvious 1 or 2) is pretending Eng are the best. They are currently the best of a group who are a way behind SA but whose negative , average cricket has still been good enough to beat their 2 nearest rivals in the last 12 months. Yes some fans give complacency excuses for poor performances while others give other excuses - umpiring decisions , bad luck blah , blah , blah , while few admit their own team's shortcomings. And yes Eng have plenty of shortcomings but they have still beaten their 2 nearest rivals for the number 2 spot a combined 5 series in a row so I guess the sides below have even more shortcomings?

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (November 6, 2013, 10:11 GMT)

I find nothing wrong in what has Warne has said. The main points that he has made are all valid. 1. Cook IS definitely a negative captain with a very defensive mindset and the only reason he's on a great winning streak is because of the number of match winning bowlers and batsmen in his side vis a vis competition. 2. It IS in bad form for a captain to criticize his successor who was also the Vice Captain under him. 3. Clarke IS indeed more imaginative and definitely not risk averse to enforce a result. That's good captaincy. That said, it must also be pointed out to all those who think that Ricky was a great captain, that Ricky had a great set of matchwinning bowlers and batsmen just as Cook has now, which enabled him to not only dominate sides but also score freely without the added tension and burden that a struggling team puts on a captain. So, Ricky was no better than Cook is now. Ricky crumbled as a captain and player when he got a team stripped off its greats, so will Cook!

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (November 6, 2013, 3:55 GMT)

This is getting rather sad now. Shane Warne loves the limelight. Ponting still believes he should be captain of the Australian cricket team. And no one really likes Michael Clarke.

Posted by   on (November 6, 2013, 3:47 GMT)

usually the players and ex players (both sides) play the pre Ashes war games but usually they are targeting the other side :) ie - Warne - last visit to Oz by England - 'Trott and KP will fail, Swann wont get many wkts and by targeting Cook Oz will break the back of England ..... Merv - Anderson cant bowl in Oz Last time in Eng - loads of Oz people talking about Clarke and Watson destroying the England attack, about Oz attack being the best in the world... That seems pretty ok but slagging off your own team :)

Posted by paapam on (November 6, 2013, 2:01 GMT)

I am sorry Shane, Ponting has no reason to be jealous of any living cricketer. He is the greatest Aussie batter after the don and has a decent record as captain. Clarke may be imaginative on the field but lacks the ability to 'read' the more difficult members of his team, allay their fears and make them feel respected. His personal vanity and self absorbtion are neither signs of a great leader nor a good human being. Muralitharan not withstanding Warne is the greatest ever spinner in test history and the best captain Australia did not have. I am disappointed that he is ending up as a proxy for Clarke.

Posted by Johnny_129 on (November 5, 2013, 21:12 GMT)

The harsh exchanges between former players goes to show how far Australian cricket has fallen. Historically, Australia has been at the top of cricket at most times even though WI were the best team ever. However, those days are gone and now Aus is fighting to stay off bottom place! Former players wrangling openly, like this, does not help. I would much rather see Warne and Ponting getting together and discussing ways to improve the current performance and then speaking out.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (November 5, 2013, 20:52 GMT)

@ ScottSStevo. Wasn't 3-0 a large enlough margin to suggest that we did actually play a rather better game than your lot? I think so.Please ,the numbers say it all as ever. We WON,You Lo9st. Live with it,mate!!!

Posted by ScottStevo on (November 5, 2013, 19:38 GMT)

@Joseph Langford, then who is your XI that are so much better (because they're not from NSW!)??? You complain a lot about players being from NSW yet give no alternatives. Who would you have as captain of the national side if not Clarke if you say he's so poor? I'd love to know as I've not seen anyone even close to contention in captaining the side at present other than Clarke...

Posted by ScottStevo on (November 5, 2013, 19:26 GMT)

@maximum6, maybe if the night before Cook hadn't been playing his cynical tactics, it would never got that far. Just be thankful that Clarke declared in the first place and made something of a spectacle of that test match. I can assure you, roles reversed Cook wouldn't have been playing for the win, he'd have batted on. Didn't see Cook throw the ball to his spinners when he had the chance that evening when it was ridiculously dark and wickets were up for grabs. Nor complain at the amount of times Broad and co were on their haunches having to tie their laces every other delivery. Short memory, pal. As for us talking it up, you must be joking? Same as England playing a good game - kidding right? 2rpo is a good game to you? Eng have played avg test cricket barring one series in India for almost 2 years and blame complacency...You may be eeking the results for now, but playing that brand of cricket won't gain you too many successes, nor admirers. The way u guys talk you'd think u were no1!

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Daniel BrettigClose
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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