The Investec Ashes 2013

Clarke plays up Australia unity

Daniel Brettig at Lord's

July 16, 2013

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Shane Watson and Michael Clarke practice ahead of the second Ashes Test, Lord's, July 16, 2013
Michael Clarke did not go into allegations of a rift between him and Shane Watson made by Mickey Arthur © Getty Images
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Michael Clarke has not denied the existence of serious rifts within the team in the past but insists the tourists have put the problems of the Mickey Arthur era behind them under the guidance of the new coach Darren Lehmann. The revelation of Arthur's log of claims about his sacking broke as the tourists trained at Lord's two days out from the second Ashes Test, forcing hurried meetings about the team's official response.

Allegations of precisely how dimly Clarke viewed Shane Watson, and that the allrounder had been the one to inform Arthur of David Warner's misadventures, will not necessarily be a shock to members of the Australia team. Clarke stated that the squad was more united now than it had been for some time, which bodes well for the rest of the Ashes but also casts harsh light on the team under Arthur.

"I can't remember for a long time the team being as united as we are right now," Clarke said. "And no coincidence Darren's played a big part in that. I think him as a man and a gentleman brings that to the forefront. He was a great guy to play with, and he's no different as a coach. He loves having a good time, loves us enjoying our cricket and he was really proud, as I was, about the way we played over the past five days.

"The most important thing is that we as a team are as focused as we can be on Thursday. We've obviously got a huge game in front of us, the boys are feeling great. As we showed in the last Test match we're here to fight and do as well as we possibly can in this Test series. Nothing will get in the way of the team harmony at the moment. The feeling around the camp is magnificent. The feeling's what you want it to be around the Australian cricket team."

The timing of the documents' release has attracted the criticism of the Australian Cricketers' Association chief executive, Paul Marsh, and Clarke said he was doing his best to ensure the team remained entirely focused on Lord's, rather than the problems of the preceding six months.

"For me right now it is 'be focused on what's in front of me, not what's behind me'," Clarke said. "Decisions have been made and made for reasons. We've got a fantastic group with a great coach who has united us, and we're heading in the right direction. It makes no difference to me … my eyes are focused on one goal, and that's winning this Test match. I know everybody in that change-room's exactly the same. Boys have trained well today, come and train tomorrow."

Brad Haddin, the vice-captain, struck a similarly insistent tone about the health of the team. "We've been going in the right direction since day one of the tour," he said. "My stance hasn't changed. Disappointing result in first Test. Nice to get close but we want to win. I'm comfortable with where things are. Love to see a couple of guys names on the board and get a win here. Don't think that brought us tighter. The group has been fine since day one of the tour.

"Since I've been back everything has been fine. Day one was exciting and that hasn't changed. DL has done a wonderful job like all staff and players. Ashes is as good as it gets. All the other stuff is white noise. It hasn't affected the side. Darren Lehmann is the coach of Australia. That won't change. We're here to play an Ashes campaign, and our job is to get on with this."

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

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Posted by   on (July 18, 2013, 3:28 GMT)

@YorkshirePudding, the saying is 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating'. Which is a saying that actually makes sense.

If Australia are able to become more united after five losses in a row, I don't think another couple will split the team apart. Most of the fractious behaviour has been during times when Australia have been successful at Test level.

Posted by pat_one_back on (July 17, 2013, 22:27 GMT)

I think everyone knows the way to address this is via YouTube apologies, Kevin really mended the Eng wounds this way and Aust could learn from Eng in how to cowtow to inflated ego's, not that there's any the size of Pierersen's going around since Warnie & Ganguly retired.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 17, 2013, 14:00 GMT)

to Paraphrase shakespeare : 'Me thinks the lad doth protest to much.'

The proof will be in the pudding as they say when if the australians start to lose games, as this will put extra strain on the relationships with various people raising old gripes, like happend last year in the SA series with England.

Posted by Sjhan on (July 17, 2013, 11:34 GMT)

Ridiculous how do a man want his job back..Arthur wants his job back..NO WAY!!I hope CA doesnt do that....Boof is an excellent person,he is a superb coach no way he cannot be replaced by Arthur.CA dont give Arthur his job back

Posted by pat_one_back on (July 17, 2013, 10:23 GMT)

@FFL, hardly comparesto Pietersen's selfish and immature sledging of his own team now does it???

Posted by SevereCritic on (July 16, 2013, 23:13 GMT)

So, Watson ratted Warner out, got him booted so that he could open for the Ashes? Interesting.

Posted by cloudmess on (July 16, 2013, 22:15 GMT)

I feel sorry for Micky Arthur, he has been treated shabbily by CA. Having said that, these revelations show the extent to which he'd lost control of the team. He is, like Peter Moores was for England, a better middle- than man-manager, and would probably be more suited to getting the best out of a state side or development team.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (July 16, 2013, 19:10 GMT)

He's got to. Clarke's got to play up team unity as there's no other strategy left to cope with the mess that is revolving around the leadership and personnel of this Australian team. Clarke hasn't exactly brought the team together has Clarke, now he's got another massive crisis on his hands in the shape of the recent Arthur revelations. It's really going from worse to worse for him.

Posted by 2MikeGattings on (July 16, 2013, 17:44 GMT)

Any unity in the side is of very recent vintage. It was a good idea to recall Haddin because with the exception of Siddle the senior players were hardly setting an example. The situation under Arthur was reminiscent of England in the late 1980s.

Posted by MonotremeInEurope on (July 16, 2013, 17:42 GMT)

I think Micky Arthur has shot himself in the foot here. Which cricket organisation would take him on now, knowing that he is destabilising and litigious? To add to that, judging on how Clarke and Watson were interacting in the slips at Worcester there was certainly appeared to be getting on famously.

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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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