Michael Clarke has taken aim at Cricket Australia in his return to breakfast radio in Sydney, questioning why Steve Smith was largely overlooked for last year's T20 World Cup. Clarke was embroiled in scandal last week when he was filmed in a public altercation involving his girlfriend and Karl Stefanovic in Noosa.
The former Australia cricket captain returned to Sky Sports' Big Breakfast on Monday morning, largely ignoring the incident. However Clarke wasted little time in hitting out at Cricket Australia and national selectors over a number of issues.
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Clarke took aim at selectors for snubbing Smith at the T20 World Cup last year in light of his incredible form in the BBL this season. In just three games with the Sydney Sixers, Smith has amassed 262 runs at an average of 131.
He blasted back-to-back centuries in the Sixers' last two games and has the equal-most sixes this season despite playing nine games less than his rivals. The incredible display has come after Smith was forced to watch from the dugout as Australia failed to reach the semi-finals of last year's T20 World Cup.
Smith played just one of four games for Australia as selectors stuck with the likes of Aaron Finch, Mitch Marsh, Tim David and Marcus Stoinis. Smith's sensational form has come after a move to the top of the order, while Finch struggled mightily at the World Cup.
Speaking on Monday morning, Clarke slammed selectors for overlooking Smith for the majority of the World Cup. "The Australian selectors missed a massive trick with Smithy in the T20 World Cup," he said.
"They were set on Mitch Marsh batting at No.3. Finch tried batting No.4, Cameron Green had a go.
"Smithy gets back in the BBL and hits two hundreds in a row. He could've batted anywhere, he didn't have to bat at No.3."
The 41-year-old Clarke also declared it 'ridiculous' that Australia isn't playing a tour match in the subcontinent ahead of a four-Test series in India starting next month. The former captain warned the Aussies about being complacent after their 3-0 whitewash of a substandard South Africa side.
“I thought the Aussies were brilliant but South Africa’s batting was what I was worried about," he said. "I thought they were really poor, and then once Australia got on a roll, in these conditions we just got used to the pace of South Africa.
“I thought South Africa’s bowling attack was good but Australia used their speed to our advantage on very good batting wickets. But I thought South Africa’s batting was nowhere near good enough against Australia’s bowlers but I think the Aussies deserve a lot of credit for how they played.”
Michael Clarke returns after video controversy
Clarke's return to radio came after he and girlfriend Jade Yarbrough were fined by Queensland Police for causing public nuisance. In video published by the Daily Telegraph, Ms Yarbrough could be seen accusing Clarke and cheating on her and slapping him a number of times.
Clarke largely ignored the scandal on Monday morning, with co-host Gerard Middleton saying: “Now, of course enormous fascination into Clarkey’s life and we are just hitting this on the head straight away.
“It is a private matter that Clarkey’s obviously been dealing with. A very, very private matter which unfortunately was made public. There’s a lot of factors in play here and Clarkey’s made his statement last week and due to all the factors in play we are moving forward on The Big Sports Breakfast this morning.”
The only mention Clarke made of the altercation was the hamstring injury he suffered as a result. Middleton said: "You showed us before, that bruise on your hamstring, that is incredible mate. You won’t be able to walk properly for weeks.”
Clarke responded: “Nah it’s fine buddy, it’s on the mend, I’m good to go, I’m ready, game day, good to go, on the mend."
Clarke's radio job is safe for now, however the India Cricket Board (BCCI) is reportedly reviewing his upcoming TV commentary role for Australia's tour of India. The BCCI are known to be extremely touchy about off-field controversies involving their employees.
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