Former Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke has gone toe-to-toe with veteran sports journalist Phil 'Buzz' Rothfield on air, after revealing that he would not have attended the Allan Border Medal nights if he didn't have to. Clarke is a four-time winner of Australian cricket's highest individual honour after being named the nation's best player in 2005, 2009, 2012 and 2013.
Incredibly though, Clarke claims he would never have attended the glitzy awards night if Cricket Australia hadn't made it compulsory for all players to attend. The 41-year-old made the bombshell claim after he and veteran rugby league reporter Rothfield were discussing the sad situation at the St George Illawarra Dragons' end-of-season presentation night, in which only three players attended.
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Rothfield described the awards night snub by the the Dragons players as a disgrace and said it was a terrible look for the NRL club. While Clarke admitted that the optics weren't great, he sympathised with the fact that players chose to skip it after a long and brutal season.
Clarke said his own experiences with the Allan Border Medal ceremonies were not overwhelmingly positive, despite the fact he won the prestigious award four times. He said the nature of the televised event meant players did not feel comfortable letting their hair down or enjoying a few drinks, and if was up to him, he never would have attended them.
“I’ll say this Buzz, they are not enjoyable nights,” Clarke said on Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast. “I think of Allan Border Medal, right. The Allan Border Medal was compulsory, that’s why I went. If I was given the option, even winning the Allan Border Medal, I wouldn’t have went (sic).
“Because it’s never the end of season for us. With cricket, it’s a TV program, so everything on there is done for television. And then you’ve got media around the whole time, so you can’t unwind and drink because there will be a photo or a video and someone being pissed or under the weather, and then you’ve got to read about that the next day.
“And then we generally had to go on tour or play a Test match, so we couldn’t really drink anyway.”
Rothfield claimed Clark's comments backed up his outrage against the Dragons situation, insisting: “You didn’t want to go, but you went because it was the Australian cricket team.”
Clarke quickly interjected: “No, we went because it was compulsory. We weren’t given an option. It’s in our contract, we had to go. I think the Dragons, maybe they were given the option that they don’t need to go if they don’t want to."
Things got more heated when Rothfield suggested that not attending Australian cricket's night of nights was disrespectful to Allan Border - the legendary former captain's whose name adorns the prestigious award. Clarke quickly shot down in such suggestion.
“It’s nothing to do with Allan Border, don’t go there Buzz," the 41-year-old snapped back. “Allan Border’s a legend, he’s the godfather. I love AB. Don’t make it personal.
“I could go to Allan’s house and see him, I don’t need to go to Crown Casino to see him. Don’t make it personal, it’s nothing to do with the medal being called after AB.”
Rothfield responded with an exasperated laugh before saying: “How did I know that you and me were going to have one final disagreement for the year?”
Michael Clarke hits out over fresh ball-tampering claims
Clarke last week took aim at Cricket Australia (CA), urging them to address fresh claims from David Warner manager James Erskine, that two senior executives told players to tamper with the ball, some 16 months before the sandpaper scandal in South Africa in 2018.
Speaking out in the wake of Warner's decision to drop his attempt to have his lifetime leadership ban overturned, Erskine said the truth about the ball-tampering scandal is yet to fully come out. Erskine claimed that players were given the green light to tamper with the ball during a conversation in the dressing rooms after a Test match in Hobart.
"Two senior executives were in the changing room in Hobart and basically were berating the team for losing against South Africa," Erskine said on SEN radio. "Warner said we've got to reverse-swing the ball. And the only way we can reverse-swing the ball is by tampering with it. And so they were told to do it."
Clarke said he wished the ugly controversy - which has cast a nasty stain on Australian cricket - would "go away". However, he admitted that in light of the latest allegations that it was in fact "getting out of control".
“Honestly, I’ve said the last, I don’t know how long, probably since 'Sandpapergate' has happened, that I wish this thing would go away. Well, you know what, I’m going to say the opposite because yesterday (Erskine's comments) is an explosion," Clarke said on Sky Sports radio.
“This thing is going nowhere. This thing is getting out of control. This thing is getting bigger. I’ll tell you what, there are some nervous men waking up this morning with this comments made yesterday by David Warner’s manager James Erskine. When I saw that yesterday my jaw hit the floor.
“Where’s Cricket Australia?. This is the thing that needs to be clear to Cricket Australia. You cannot sweep this under the carpet and say, ‘Well, we’ve got a new board, we’ve got a new CEO’. Listen, I don’t care if you’ve got to go back to James Sutherland, pick up the phone and call him or Pat Howard or anyone else who was involved with what James Erskine is saying because you’re not sweeping this.
“You better find out what the heck has gone on. I want to know, as a past Australian captain, I want to know what is going on inside this set-up. I’m telling you now if James Erskine has that information, do you think that’s the only thing he’s got. This thing is not going away, the truth needs to be told.
“... Cricket Australia needs serious help right now. They need proper help. This is every man for themselves. It is horrible.”
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