Veteran journalist Gerard Whateley has continued his critique of Michael Clarke’s captaincy while identifying a “clear flex point” where everything changed for Australian cricket.
Speaking a week after his spat with Clarke exploded across social media, Whateley responded to the former skipper’s brutal Twitter post – in which Clarke called him a “headline chasing coward”.
— Michael Clarke (@MClarke23) November 28, 2018
Whateley refused to be drawn in to any name calling, but did have some subtle barbs to throw at the former batting star.
He told The Grade Cricketer Podcast that the decline of Australian cricket began after Simon Katich’s infamous SCG dressing room incident with Clarke in 2009, in which Katich reportedly grabbed Clarke by the throat.
Cricket Australia responded to that incident and the pair’s toxic relationship by dropping Katich from the Test team in 2010 and soon after appointing Clarke as captain of the team.
It was a decision that CA chairman at the time, Wally Edwards, publicly regretted and that Whately insists became a clear turning point for the culture of the Australian cricket team – culminating in the ball-tampering scandal of 2018.
“The flex point I think in Australian cricket, and I’ve sort of long held this view, is essentially the choice of Clarke and Simon Katich of what Australian cricket might have chosen in that moment and the path that it went down,” Whateley said.
“You can have your views as to what would have served cricket better or what would have served your own view of cricket better.
“I actually think there is a clear flex point there and if you run that all the way through, it’s not that there haven’t been moments in Australian cricket before, but I think that sense of international repulsion which was given very strong voice in the aftermath of what happened in South Africa, I think you can trace that back and it starts to build rather intensely from that moment and I do think that is where the genesis of the language around the line comes in.
“I don’t think you’ll find the line in the Allan Border years or the Steve Waugh years and I don’t believe you’ll find it in the Ricky Ponting years either.
“I think the line was an invention of that time and then we saw where that ended up running too. It’s the line that is that legacy piece for me.”
Although that critique of Clarke was subtle, the journalist did take a more direct jab at the former skipper, highlighting how his leadership was completely different to any before him.
“In no way am I going to intend to be critical here, he was a different captain, in a way he was thoroughly a new aged captain and I probably think for a period of time people didn’t absolutely know how to take him,” Whateley said.
“He had a different demeanour and dynamic within the team and that’s just to read the autobiographies of those who played with him to get a full understanding of that.
“He was around celebrity probably more so than cricketer’s have been so in a way he was a thoroughly modern sportsman who crossed over into the paparazzi set, away from just the theatre of sport.”
India win toss and bat against Australia
India have won the toss and elected to bat at Adelaide Oval, where Australia’s attack is set to be tested in 39-degree heat on day one of the first Test.
Tim Paine named his XI on Wednesday, confirming allrounder Mitch Marsh had been axed.
It’s been a year since Australia have played a Test without an allrounder in their team.
Temperatures are forecast to hit 39 degrees on Thursday, meaning it could be a very long day in the field for gun quicks Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood if they’re unable to capture some early wickets.
“It’s going to be pretty hot today but in the last few years here, particularly in domestic cricket, there’s been a bit in the wicket,” Australia skipper Paine said after losing the toss.
“It’s a little bit soft under foot because of the weather this week.
“It is difficult (leaving Marsh out of the side) but we think the three fast bowlers and Nathan Lyon can do the job … they’re all coming in really fresh.”
Veteran batsman Rohit Sharma edged Hanuma Vihari to claim the final spot in India’s XI.
“Rohit Sharma is one guy who can bat really well with the tail,” India captain Virat Kohl said at the toss.
“He’s good with the short ball and can really take on the attack.
“Every tour is an opportunity. We’re not taking anything for granted.”
Australia XI: Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
India XI: KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Shama, Jasprit Bumrah.