Michael Clarke denies rift in Australian side and board
Australian skipper Michael Clarke speaking to reporters after scoring 51 for Western Suburbs @Getty Images

Australian skipper Michael Clarke on Saturday denied rumours regarding a rift with team-mates as he tries to prove his fitness ahead of the World Cup. Clarke returned to field for a grade cricket match and said the six and half weeks he spent on sidelines recovering from hamstring surgery had not created a rift between him and his players.

According to Cricketcountry, Clarke said, “It certainly hasn’t been for me, it seems like it might have been for a few other people and I’m not talking about my teammates or the Cricket Australia staff.”

Steve Smith filled the captain’s gap when Clarke was forced to bow out after the first Test against India in December with hamstring injury and reports suggest that the team have adapted to Smith’s style. But speculation suggests that the skipper wants to have a strong say in when he is ready to return and this caused a tussle with Cricket Australia.

“I’m not going to get into it. It seems like some people in particular are going to write what they want to write. I’m really happy and comfortable with my relationship with Cricket Australia firstly, certainly with my teammates. It’s water off a duck’s back for me, I’ve copped it my whole career. It’s another day, another newspaper sold. I don’t really care,” added the skipper.

Explosive batsman David Warner expressed his backing for Clarke saying, suggestions that some Test players would rather choose Smith as captain once Clarke returned were “bizarre”.

“Smitty [Smith] will be a good leader but he’s got a lot to learn and he knows that. I still feel Michael has a lot to offer as a captain. His leadership over the last three years put us in a great position,” said Warner.