Michael Clarke urges Australian cricketers to make most of opportunity

Michael Clarke has earlier said mediocrity won’t be tolerated in this Australian side © Getty Images

By Sanjay Ganjoo

Mohali: Mar 13, 2013

Australian captain Michael Clarke said on Monday that the unavailability of four players will be a good opportunity for others to prove their worth.

“It has huge impact on the team for the third Test match. But it’s why you pick a squad. It gives somebody else an opportunity. And that’s the biggest risk in this game. You give somebody else an opportunity and you might never get another chance,” he said.

Clarke said he has no doubt about Shane Watson’s abilities and he was sure that he will comeback to the side as his deputy.

“A lot of people will ask about Shane Watson and the vice-captaincy. I absolutely believe he can bounce back from this and be the Australian vice-captain again.

“Watto is one of the best players in the world when he is at the top of his game. We didn’t consider the names of the individuals when arriving at this decision but made a call in the best interests of the team,” he said.

Riven by dissensions, a depleted Australian cricket team was on Tuesday preparing hard for the third Test against India starting Thursday even as Watson and fast bowler James Pattinson admitted their mistakes which led to their sack from the match along with two other players.
Watson, who returned to Sydney after abruptly leaving the tour, said that it was wrong on its part not to submit the presentation to the coach while a repentant Pattinson felt that he deserved the punishment, raising speculation that he could be pardoned on the eve of the Test match.
Even as the cricket fraternity continued to react with shock and dismay at the unprecedented sacking, the Australian team went through business as usual with a gruelling practice session at the PCA stadium.
“I accept that I did the wrong thing with what I did, but I will always find it very hard to accept being suspended from a Test match for my country,” Watson told the reporters at the Sydney airport after an 18-hour long journey from India.
Watson and three of his colleagues — pacemen James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson, and batsman Usman Khawaja — were on Monday axed from the team for the third Test for ignoring a team management order.
The four players were dropped for failing to make a presentation on how to improve their personal as well as the team’s performance after the innings and 135 runs defeat in the second Test in South Indian city Hyderabad.
“I, with a few other guys, took it as leading into the Test match and I got that extremely wrong, which meant that it’s cost me a Test match. They (the leadership group) obviously thought that was the right decision for the team at this point in time,” a devastated Watson said.
“I’ve missed Test matches and games through injury throughout my career. I feel like I’ve worked my absolute bum off to have an opportunity to represent my country. When that’s taken away from you, you think the actions must be very severe. That’s where we differ on our opinions.
“I think it’s extremely harsh. I expressed my extreme disappointment with the punishment. But everything happens for a reason in your life,” said the 31-year-old New South Wales all-rounder,” Watson said.
Pattinson said he deserved axing from the side for his disrespectful ways and those who are criticising the decision, do not understand the new culture the team is trying to build.
“It shows a lack of respect to the coach, the captain as well, and the rest of the team. I know if I was in their position, as a team member, I’d be quite disappointed in them for being a bit selfish,” he said.
“People talk about it as a harsh punishment but looking deeply into it you realise probably its not. If you want to be part of the Australian cricket team you have to do everything right. It’s not acceptable. I believe it’s the right punishment,” the tall paceman added.
He said it initially it was difficult for him to digest the sacking but he realised he does not need to make any excuses.
Cricket Australia put its weight behind the team management which is struggling to put together a team for the third Test with just 13 players to choose from.
CA officials held a teleconference with the team management to take a briefing following Monday’s events.
“We had a discussion so we could be fully updated on the issues surrounding this event and allow board members to ask questions of the management. The board is completely supportive of the actions taken by team management,” CA Chairman Wally Edwards said in a statement.
Clarke, meanwhile, continued to talk tough and said disciplinary breaches could not be tolerated, while maintaining that he had the respect of the players who have been suspended.
“I don’t think it will have any impact on my friendship with the four guys because I know I’ve got the respect of those guys and they know how much I respect them. That’s probably why I feel comfortable fronting players on these issues”, he said.
“I think it would be easy to walk away and let things slide. But they know how much I love playing for Australia like they do,” Clarke said.
“They know how much I want this team to have success and achieve what I think we can achieve. And you know what? They want the same. There’s only one way you get there. It takes the whole team pushing in the same direction. This is not about the individual player. The whole team sits on this level. These are our standards. If you’re not hitting it, there’s going to be consequences.”
Clarke said making the presentation was not a big deal and the players should have provided the feedbacks.
“It wasn’t a big ask. You let the team down, you let the head coach down. That’s unacceptable,” he said.
The sacking episode evoked a mixed reaction in the Australian media though former Australian players were sharply critical of the move, describing it as “ridiculous” and “absolute joke”.
Coach Mickey Arthur received applause from a section of Australian media while a few experts pilloried him for the “nonsense” decision to axe four players from the side on disciplinary ground.

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