Simon Katich hits back at Michael Clarke’s ‘play tough Australian cricket’ comment
There is no love lost between Simon Katich and Michael Clarke. @Getty

Former Australian batsman Simon Katich has criticised Michael Clarke‘s statement this week that the Australian cricket team must focus on moving up the ICC Test Championship ladder, reminding him of the fact that the reputation of the team has been badly tarnished in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal which saw former captain Steve Smith, former vice-captain David Warner and Test opener Cameron Bancroft handed bans from international and state cricket.

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Speaking on Macquarie Sports Radio on Tuesday, Clarke asserted that playing tough cricket is part of Australia’s cricket culture and that walking away from it will not help the team win a game.

“Play tough Australian cricket, because whether we like it or not, that is in our blood. If you try and walk away from it, yeah we might be the most liked team in the world, we’re not going to win s**t, we won’t win a game. All we can want to do is want to win,” the Ashes and World Cup-winning captain said.

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Katich, who famously grabbed Clarke by the collar in the SCG dressing room over a disagreement over when the team song would be sung, was critical of his comments and said that Australia needed to work harder to clean up its image.

“What’s been forgotten in all of this is we blatantly cheated and the reason we’re at this point now, and what led us to this point, and we talk about the line that was talked about for so long,” Katich said on SEN today. “The point is, we were caught for blatantly cheating and we have to rectify that as soon as possible to earn back the respect of the cricketing public in Australia and worldwide.

“We’ve been a disliked team for a number of years through that on-field behaviour and it obviously came to a head in Cape Town. It’s a tough battle for this team taking on the burden of what’s come before them. They can still play the Australian way in terms of playing competitive and playing fairly, but not going over the top and going across the rules like they did in Cape Town.”

One of the findings of the exhaustive review by the Ethics Centre – commissioned to review Cricket Australia after the ball-tampering scandal that erupted during the Cape Town Test match in March – into the behaviour of the Australian cricket team and the board was that Australian cricket “has lost its balance and stumbled badly” and that its cricketers live in a “gilded bubble – disconnected, for much of the year, from families, friends and the grounding influence of community”  and that CA is viewed as an ”arrogant and controlling” body that does not live up to its values.

While sledging has long been a part of Australia’s tactics, one of the findings of the review was an alleged culture of bullying within CA, with report director Simon Longstaff of the Ethics Centre terming the ruling body’s methods as ‘dictatorial’ and ‘not collaborative’.

Katich was embroiled in an altercation with Clarke after the Sydney Test against South Africa in January 2009, where he grabbed the latter by the throat in the dressing room after an argument had developed over when the team song would be sung. Katich was charged by CA after he told reporters that he thought a physical bust-up with Clarke led to his losing his contracted player status.