TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
AS if having to to beat a confident SA in next month’s test series wasn’t a tall enough order for Australia, Steve Smith’s team could be distracted from that task by the bombshells being dropped by Michael Clarke.
On Sunday, Clarke, Smith’s predecessor as Australia’s captain, appeared on the “60 Minutes” television programme and was asked to confirm that he had labelled former vice-captain Shane Watson a “cancer” in the Australian side – as had been claimed by former Australian coach Mickey Arthur.
Clarke denied the charge, but followed up with, “I said that there is a number of players, or a group in this team at the moment that are like a tumour, and if we don’t fix it it’s going to turn into a cancer.”
He confirmed that he counted Watson among those players.
Clarke was interviewed as part of the marketing of his autobiography, which was published on Monday.
In the book Clarke details dressingroom disagreements between players and argues against the diminishing role of Australia’s captains since Darren Lehmann became head coach in 2013.
Lehmann is still in that job but most of the figures Clarke mentions have, like he has, retired from the international stage.
But in a cricket culture that values unity and what the Aussies call “mateship”, Clarke’s assertions couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Smith is under pressure as captain in the wake of the 5-0 drubbing his team were handed in their one-day series in SA, and Australia haven’t beaten SA in a test series at home since January 2005.
SA begin their tour at the weekend with a two-day day/night warm-up match at the Adelaide Oval, where they will play the third test under lights.
The test series starts at the WACA in Perth on November 3.