‘I think standing down as a selector has been one of the best things I’ve done’, says Michael Clarke

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“Instead of selection meetings and being on the phone for hours, I’m having coffee, lunch, breakfast with my team-mates now and trying to help all of us”

Australia captain Michael Clarke has admitted that “standing down as a selector has been one of the best things I’ve done” since it has allowed him to build a healthier relationship with the rest of his team-mates. 

“You’d have to talk to the other guys about how they felt, but personally I think standing down as a selector has been one of the best things I’ve done since taking over the captaincy,” Clarke said. “It is a full-time job and they deserve a lot of credit for the work that goes in to being a selector, but giving that time back to me has allowed me to give it back to the team, spending time with the boys whether it be longer at training or off the field.

“Instead of selection meetings and being on the phone for hours, I’m having coffee, lunch, breakfast with my team-mates now and trying to help all of us. They’re giving me their time as well to help me become a better player and a better captain. I have more time for them, definitely.”

Clarke also acknowledged the claims made by former batsman Michael Hussey in his new autobiography, Underneath the Southern Cross.

Hussey noted that Clarke’s dual role as captain and selector had a negative impact on the team as it caused many of the players to “keep their heads down” whenever Clarke passed by. 

Hussey also revealed that he organised a formal meeting with former coach Mickey Arthur during Australia’s tour of the West Indies in 2012 due to the concerns he had about the team culture and the direction in which they were headed.

Responding to Hussey’s claims, Clarke noted that the veteran batsman had never directly approached him about his concerns.

However, the current captain did not deny that there were problems brewing in the Australian dressing room either. 

“I was conscious of a lot of things that were going on round that group that weren’t of a standard that was acceptable, in my opinion, of representing your country and being part of a team that wants to get back to No. 1 in the world, hence what happened in India,” Clarke said. “In regards to guys just looking after themselves, that’s probably a question for the other guys. For me personally, I’ve been very fortunate the teams I’ve played with at a young age, even starting with NSW, I was always shown and educated that you can’t always have good days in this game.

“You’re going to have some tough times and you have to enjoy the success of other players, and when the team wins, that’s got to feel just as good as you making a hundred – I was brought up that way. I can’t answer that on behalf of the other guys, but there was obviously a lot of things going on over a period of time that I didn’t think were good enough.

“I think the media and the public got to see the frustration and the consequences of that. But I can guarantee that has changed now, I think Darren Lehmann’s done a wonderful job since he came in, the feeling in the group is outstanding and the boys are all heading in the same direction.”

Arthur’s successor, Darren Lehmann, noted that he has implemented new rules and regulations to ensure standards are met, while also making sure that players are supporting one another instead of looking out for themselves. 

“That’s Mike’s view and he’s one of the greats of the game,” Lehmann said. “But I haven’t seen that in the time that I’ve been there, and we’re trying to go very much in that team direction.

“We have some team rules and regulations they have to follow, if they don’t adhere to them then there’s always trouble from the coach. Occasionally I get grumpy but not most of the time.

“It’s strange to say this, we lost the Ashes but it was one of the best tours I’ve been on. For getting to know the players and the way they gelled as a group on and off the field and with the staff, it was a really good tour.”

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