Michael Clarke has been given a baptism of fire in his new career venture.
The former Aussie cricket captain has recently joined a Sydney breakfast radio team but things are off to a rocky start.
Clarke's opinionated nature has often divided cricket fans and judging by his early radio ratings, he's got a bit of work to do if he’s going to win over the public.
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The 39-year-old recently teamed up with rugby league great Laurie Daley and Gerard Middleton on Sky Sports Radio's Big Sports Breakfast team.
However, according to Thursday's GfK metro radio survey of 2020, the show rated less than half of their previous 0.9 percent rating after coming in with a 0.4 percent share of traffic.
The ratings dip could quite reasonably be put down to the lack of sport being played and the country's thirst for information around the COVID-19 pandemic.
Talkback radio stations on the other hand have seen ratings spikes, with both 2GB (up +1.6 per cent) and ABC radio (up +0.7 to 9.6%) recording better ratings figures than the previous period.
In a cutthroat industry where ratings are king, Clarke and his team’s audience drop will surely be of a concern.
Clarke has been ruffling a few feathers lately after claiming the current crop of Aussie cricketers have been guilty of sucking up to India captain Virat Kohli.
Clarke claims Aussie cricketers sucked up to India captain
The former skipper claims some Aussie players were scared to sledge Kohli and his men because of their lucrative Indian Premier League deals.
Clarke suggested the Aussies had ‘sucked up’ to Kohli and his teammates the last time India toured Australia - a 2-1 Test series win to the tourists.
“Everybody knows how powerful India are in regards to the financial part of the game, internationally or domestically with the IPL,” Clarke said on Big Sports Breakfast.
“I feel that Australian cricket, and probably every other team over a little period, went the opposite and actually sucked up to India.
“They were too scared to sledge Kohli or the other Indian players.”
Australian players have attracted massive money since the IPL started in 2008, with Pat Cummins recently garnering the most expensive contract for an overseas player ever - $3.2 million.
Clarke, who played for the now-defunct Pune Warriors in 2012, said Australian players coveted the million-dollar deals on offer.
“The players were like: ‘I'm not going to sledge Kohli, I want him to pick me for Bangalore so I can make my $1 million for my six weeks’.”
“I feel like that’s where Australia went through that little phase where our cricket become a little bit softer or not as hard as we're accustomed to seeing.”
Indian greats slam ‘ridiculous’ suggestion
Cummins and Tim Paine have since shot down Clarke’s theory, and two Indian greats have now weighed in.
According to former India captain Kris Srikkanth, Clarke’s claims are ‘ridiculous’.
“You do not win matches just by sledging. The Aussies’ loss is a loss, his statement was ridiculous I would say,” Srikkanth told Star Sports.
”You need to bowl well to get wickets and bat well to achieve targets. Sledging cannot help in any way according to my opinion.”
VVS Laxman also refuted Clarke’s comments, saying a player’s treatment of India’s stars never factors into whether or not they’re selected to play IPL.
“As a mentor, I’m on the auction table and we select players, those international players that have played exceptionally well for their country and can add value to the franchise,” Laxman told Star Sports.
“Friendship with any Indian player doesn’t ensure entry into the IPL.”
Aussie stars dismiss Michael Clarke claims
Cummins offered a different reason for Australia’s lack of sledging against India, saying the side had made a point of trying to repair their image after the Cape Town sandpaper scandal in 2018.
“I think probably a bigger factor was six months before leading into that Indian series the media and everyone commentating on the Aussie cricket team were pretty clear in their direction in the way they wanted the team to go, and that was playing a little bit less aggressively out on the field," Cummins told the BBC last week.
“I'd say that would have been a bigger factor than trying to win or lose friends out on the cricket field.
“But you never know, that might have been a factor for some players.”
Paine said he was surprised by Clarke’s suggestion.
“I’m not sure who was going easy on (Kohli),” Paine told ESPNcricinfo.
“I certainly didn’t notice too many people being that nice to Virat or not trying to get him out or anything like that.
“I thought everyone who had the ball in their hand or when we were batting were trying their absolute best to win the game for Australia.
“We certainly had a thing where we didn’t want to provoke any fight with him because we think that’s when he plays at his best.”