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Australia captain Michael Clarke has made it clear that he and head coach Darren Lehmann have never told opening batsman David Warner to sledge opposition batsmen.
Clarke’s comments come after Warner told ESPNcricinfo during Australia’s recent tour of the Caribbean that his role was to get under the skin of the opposition. During the interview, Warner said “in the past I’ve been someone who’s been told to go out there and do this and do that”.
However, Clarke denounced Warner’s remarks as false, and said: “That was the last article I’ve read actually. I probably won’t read too much while I’m in the UK. It was quite an interesting read to be honest. I didn’t hear what Davey said, but as captain of Davey I can guarantee I have certainly never asked him to go and sledge somebody, and I think I can speak for the coach as well, that he certainly has never done that.
“The environment I try to create around this group is I want players to try to play the way they feel they play their best cricket. So for me, being sledged or sledging somebody else has never really impacted me. It’s never really affected me if I’ve copped it and it’s never really helped me if I’ve opened my big mouth. If that’s how I play my best cricket that’s what I want to do, if someone like Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden or Steve Waugh feel they get benefit out of talking to a batter when they’re fielding, or Warney when he’s bowling, that’s for them as well.”
Clarke also revealed that he would fully support Warner if he decided to change his approach on and off the field.
“Davey’s his own man, he’s a 28-year-old grown man, he’ll make his own choices – I want to see him perform as good as he possibly can,” Clarke said. “He’s a big part of this team, he’s in tremendous form, he’s batted beautifully in all formats of the game over the last 12 months, and we need him to be successful here. If he feels like he has said a lot through his career and he wants to say less, if that helps his game, I’m all for it.”
Speaking about the upcoming Ashes series, Clarke doesn’t expect his side or England to cross the line in terms of their on-field behaviour.
“I think that’s how we play our best,” he said. “I think it’s a big part of the Australian way, but I think you also need to keep in mind there’s a line and not overstep that.
“As captain I’ll make sure I lead the way on that front and I’m sure the boys will certainly follow. I probably say this every series but we respect there’s a line you can’t cross. Both teams might head-butt that line, but I’m confident we won’t overstep the mark.”