Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden. @ Getty Images
Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden. @ Getty Images

Former Australia captain Michael Clarke’s recent comments urging the Aussie to play tough has stirred a raging debate if the Baggy Green should walk that road in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal ahead of the four-Test series against India which begins with the first match at Adelaide on December 6.

“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,” Clarke told Macquarie Sports Radio, as reported by foxsports.com.au.

ALSO READ: Michael Clarke hits out at journalist who questioned the former Australian captain’s leadership

On Wednesday, Clarke’s team-mate Matthew Hayden endorsed his skipper’s theory and advised the Tim Paine-led squad to play tough rather than worry about their ‘‘brand’’, a term he believes is coined by a ‘‘bunch of suits’’.

‘‘You play the game in a spirit that’s a competitive spirit and you don’t play because you want to have a masters in being a good bloke,’’ Hayden was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday.

Clarke’s comments did not go down well with former Australia batsman Simon Katich, who once tried to throttle Clarke in the SCG nets after a Test win in 2009.

‘‘Once again we find someone missing the point. What’s been forgotten in all of this is we blatantly cheated,” he had said.

ALSO READ: Simon Katich hits back at Michael Clarke’s ‘play tough Australian cricket’ comment

‘‘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. They can still play the Australian way in terms of playing competitive and playing fairly, but not going over the top.’’

Hayden, the former Aussie opener, a 103 Tests and 161 ODI veteran, said Australians play best when they fight.

‘‘I know what our truth is as Australian cricketers. We play our best cricket when you’re fighting. Now the word ‘fight’ evokes fist fights, verbal diarrhoea and racial and religious taunts. It’s nothing about that,” Hayden said at the Bradman Foundation Gala Dinner where he was inducted as an honouree.

‘‘It’s about a body language and it’s about the fact that as Australians when you walk across that line and you play at the SCG, ‘this is our country, our turf’. And on our watch, we want to try and win. And I think that’s really what Michael would be trying to say – that it’s about that competitive edge.

‘‘I do know if we lose that, and even our great era of Australian cricket when we lost that edge – and I’m thinking back post the Test match against India here – and everyone was a bit punched by that incident and a bit worried about ‘were we overstepping the mark?’ and ‘should we be playing the game in this sort of spirit?’ we just started to play poorly. And I don’t think that’s right.

‘‘My expectations as a fan, forget a former player, is that our athletes be they male or female in any code, is to look to win the game or look to win their event. I think that’s the mindset that we need to play our best in any code.’’

Asked about whether Australia should concentrate on improving their brand, Hayden said: ‘‘That word ‘brand’ is a scary thing because it represents all manner of evils and it’s a very corporate word and I think cricket is a game.

‘‘There’s a whole bunch of suits that will carry on about the fact they’ve branded cricket as such, but as a playing group, the code is what the word is, to play the game hard and fair. That’s Australian cricket and you see it in club cricket, you see it in kids’ games on the weekend, you play the game in a spirit that’s a competitive spirit and you don’t play because you want to have a masters in being a good bloke.’’