SYDNEY (Reuters) – Michael Clarke and Simon Katich famously clashed physically in the dressing room when they were test players and this week they have become embroiled in a verbal disagreement over Australia’s commitment to be less aggressive on the pitch.
Clarke joined a chorus of former players who have criticised the new ethos propagated in the wake of March’s ball-tampering scandal, saying Australia’s chances of success would be compromised if their aggressive streak was tempered.
“You don’t need to be best mates with everyone. Australian cricket, I think, needs to stop worrying about being liked and start worrying about being respected,” former Australia captain Clarke told Macquarie Sports Radio.
“Play tough Australian cricket. Because whether we like it or not, that’s in our blood.
“If you try and walk away from it, we might be the most liked team in the world, we’re not going to win (anything). We won’t win a game. Boys and girls want to win.”
Katich, a former test opener, has been touted as a candidate to join the Cricket Australia (CA) board in the wake of a highly critical cultural review that forced the resignation of chairman David Peever.
Among the findings of the Longstaff Review was that on-field abuse of opponents had been “normalised” and a culture of “winning without counting the cost” had been fostered in the Australian game.
Katich thought Clarke had missed the point.
“What’s been forgotten in all of this is we blatantly cheated and the reason we’re at this point now, and what led us to this point, and we talk about the line that was talked about for so long,” he told SEN radio.
“The point is, we were caught for blatantly cheating and we have to rectify that as soon as possible to earn back the respect of the cricketing public in Australia and worldwide.
“We’ve been a disliked team for a number of years through that on-field behaviour and it obviously came to a head in Cape Town.
“They can still play the Australian way in terms of playing competitive and playing fairly, but not going over the top and going across the rules like they did in Cape Town.”
Captain Steve Smith and his vice captain David Warner were banned for a year, while batsman Cameron Bancroft was suspended for nine months by Cricket Australia for the attempts to tamper with the ball in a test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Tim Paine will lead the side into a four-test home series against India next week, having vowed to eradicate the verbal abuse, or sledging, under his captaincy.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O’Brien)