Michael Clarke critical of Darren Lehmann and Rodney Marsh for Australia's 2015 Ashes failure
Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke has revealed his displeasure over several of the team selections in the 2015 Ashes series which Australia lost 3-2, ESPNCricinfo reports. The 34-year-old was highly critical of head coach Darren Lehmann and chief selector Rodney Marsh for their approach during the ill-fated series.
Though the scoreline suggested a close contest, but the tour had far-reaching consequences for the reigning World champions with the likes of Brad Haddin, Chris Rogers, Ryan Harris and Clarke himself retiring from international cricket while Shane Watson called it quits in the longer format of the game.
The series saw question marks being raised about the team unity within the Australian squad and Clarke has now shed light on some of the discussions he was involved in his capacity as skipper of the team.
One of the major talking points was wicketkeeper Brad Haddin’s omission from the remainder of the series after featuring in the opening Test at Cardiff. Haddin gave the second Test a miss to spend time with his ill daughter but was not considered for selection for the last three matches as his deputy Peter Nevill kept his place in the squad after impressing in the Lord’s Test.
Clarke revealed that he had talked with the Australian selection panel ahead of the third Test regarding the wicketkeeper’s slot and said that he was not happy that the situation was not clarified to Haddin personally.
"I spoke to Rod Marsh and Darren Lehmann before the match started and told them it would be helpful to know which one they're intending to pick for the next Test because, whoever it was, I'd get them behind the stumps in the first innings and bat them up the order (in the tour game scheduled between the second and third Tests). These games are all about preparing for the Tests, and our Test keeper needed match practice,” Clarke said.
Confirming reports at that time that Haddin had confronted Lehmann over his selection, Clarke added: “Rod and Boof hadn't decided for sure, but were leaning pretty strongly towards Nev. They didn't want to change a winning side from Lord's.
“At training, I was batting in the nets when Hadds walked up to Rod and asked him which keeper was going to play the Test. I was close by, but I walked away, hoping Rod might tell Hadds (Haddin) what he'd told me, that they preferred Nev for Edgbaston. But he didn't. He told Hadds no decision had been made, that he'd get back to him.
“Hadds wasn't happy with that, so he walked straight up to Boof, who said the same thing - that the selectors hadn't decided. So Hadds asked Boof straight out, as a selector, who he was going for. And Boof looked him straight in the eye and said he wanted Nev to play."
Clarke didn’t want to play Starc and Johnson in the same team
Clarke revealed that he was not happy with the selection policies of the Australian team management over the last year of his tenure as skipper, highlighting the fact that he was not in favour of playing Mitchell Johnson, who announced his retirement from international cricket after the second Test of the ongoing series between Australia and New Zealand, and Mitchell Starc in the same team as they were similar kind of bowlers.
“When you choose a cricket team, you have to remember that bowling is not an individual task: the best bowling is done in pairs, and as a group," Clarke wrote in his Ashes 2015 diary.
"For most of the tour we picked the three best-available fast bowlers in Australia, and after Ryan Harris retired, those were Johnson, Starc and Hazlewood. That doesn't necessarily add up to the best bowling attack - for the conditions, for the opposition you're playing against, or for the sake of balance.
“I think both Johnson and Starc are aggressive, attacking strike weapons who can leak runs but will take wickets. You need at least one of them in your team. The question is, for balance, do you want both, especially as they're both lefties? Probably not, in seaming English conditions. I know as a captain I can use that one left-hander better if I have more consistency around him.”
Clarke further cited the 2013-14 Ashes clean sweep Down Under where the trio of Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Shane Watson proved a superb combination along with the fiery Johnson as an example as to how he would have liked his team to shape up in England.
“I think I showed that in the home Ashes when I had Harris, Siddle and Shane Watson as my consistent, control bowlers and I was able to use Johnson in short, fiery bursts. He was unstoppable," he said.
“You can't keep thinking, 'Well, these are the best 11 cricket players in the country and they will play all around the world all the time.' Certain batters and certain bowlers are better in certain conditions. You pick players for their role in the national team because their role is different when they play for Australia.”
“I think the selection messages around that have become a bit confused in the past 12 months or so," Clarke added.