Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke, along with David Warner and Matthew Wade, returned to action for Australia in the third ODI against Sri Lanka after being rested for the first two games © Getty Images

Brisbane: Jan 18, 2013

Australia captain Michael Clarke on Thursday defended the current rotation policy employed by his side, saying the fans must accept that there isn’t much skill gap between the top 16 players in the country.

Former greats like Adam Gilchrist, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Shane Warne would have played even if they were not fully fit, but Clarke insisted that today, it would be unwise to risk a player when there is an able replacement waiting in the ranks.

“The issue with where the Australian team is now, compared to where it was 10 years ago, is that 10 years ago you had four or five or six or seven great players in one team,” Clarke said, as reported by Fox Sports.

“If they were 80 percent fit, they were still good enough to win a game for Australia. Where we sit now as a team is, it is a lot different to that. The gap between the 11 players that take the field and the 12th-16th player is quite close,” he said. 

“So if you are not 100 percent fit to perform at your best, it is not worth the risk to the team for you to take the field and let the team down. If somebody is not 100 per cent fit to play their role then they don’t make the best XI no matter what their name is and no matter what their reputation is. Our team is a lot different now to what it was 10 years ago,” Clarke added.
Former cricketers like Brett Lee and Warne have criticised the current selection policies and slammed the team for cheapening the Baggy Green and resting players at the tiniest of injury niggle.

In the recent episode where Mitchell Starc was kept out of the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka, Clarke revealed that there was a communication breakdown about the same.

“We have probably seen some cases where guys have not been 100 percent fit or had little niggles that probably have not been communicated as well as they need to be to the media – in essence to the public,” Clarke said.

“We have always tried to be as open and honest as we can be – but there is protection of the player issue in terms of not giving the opposition team too much information.
“We are trying to look after the player and the team and we are trying to give the Australian public as much information as we possibly can.
“The public wants to see Australia win games of cricket. We are going to try on every single occasion to get our best XI – the guys that are fully fit – onto the park and I hope the public understands that.
“The Australian way is that everybody is entitled to their opinion and I love that about this country. We as a selection panel, there are times we are going to have to cop criticism.I just want the public and the media to understand we are trying to do the best thing for Australian cricket – for the game on Friday, and also in regards to what we have coming up in the next 12 months.”