Michael Clarke has criticised Cricket Australia over its approach to the upcoming Test tour of India, as the fallout over a recent scandal involving the former skipper deepens. Clarke was set to be part of the commentary team in India for the four-Test series which gets underway on February 9, but has reportedly lost the lucrative gig due to a recent controversy in Noosa.
Clarke has made unwanted headlines around the country after being filmed in an ugly verbal stoush involving his girlfriend Jade Yarbrough and Channel Nine presenter, Karl Stefanovic. Amateur footage captured Clarke in a slanging match with his girlfriend and Stefanovic, who is married to Yarbrough's sister Jasmine. In the video, Jade Yarbrough can be heard accusing Clarke of cheating on her and slapping him a number of times.
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On Saturday, Queensland Police said Clarke and Yarbrough had both received fines for public nuisance. Clarke has expressed his shame and regret over the incident and it was thought the 41-year-old was going to address the scandal on his return to Sydney radio on Monday morning. Having largely dodged discussing the drama, Clarke has faced widespread criticism, with 2GB's Ben Fordham hitting out on air: “How cowardly can you get? He’s got a microphone in front of him, he’s sitting in a radio studio, it’s the story everyone’s talking about and Clarkey squibs it."
Aside from the wave of criticism Clarke has received and the public humiliation he has suffered, the 41-year-old is also now reportedly set to lose a lucrative commentary gig in India as a result of the drama.
NewsCorp reports that the BCCI is set to rip up Clarke's contract - said to be worth around $150,000 - and replace him with Mark Waugh ahead of Australia's highly anticipated tour of India.
Clarke appeared to strengthen those reports by claiming he had been offered another commentary role for the Pakistan Premier League, which also gets underway on February 9 and runs until March 19. “I’ve just been asked to commentate on the PSL, the Pakistan Premier League, and you should see the internationals they’ve got,” Clarke said on Monday. “So many overseas players are going and playing in that tournament.”
Speaking again on Tuesday, Clarke addressed Australia's tour of India but failed to touch on the reports he'd been axed from the BCCI's commentary team. He did, however, hit out over the fact the Australian team would forgo a practice match before the Test series gets underway, with Pat Cummins' men only set to arrive in India one week before the series starts.
“That’s the part I don’t understand,” Clarke told listeners on Tuesday morning. “The no tour game before the first Test in India. I hope I’m proven wrong but I think that is going to be significant.
"Batting in those conditions in one-day cricket and T20 cricket is one thing, batting in Indian conditions in Test cricket it is a completely different game. You need a completely different plan to what you have playing in Australia, the way you start your innings against spin bowling, the way you play reverse swing, through the Australian summer we didn’t see any reverse swing, the games were over in two, three days.
“So reverse swing is going to play a big part (in India), all these batters that walk out and play bowlers bowling 130-140 km/h – there’s every chance India is going to play at least two spinners, so it’s a completely different game.
“You need to bat in the best possible conditions (in India) because after that, if you haven’t grown up playing in those conditions, man it’s extremely difficult to start your innings.
“And if you get in you need to go on and make a big score because your first 20 runs in India in second innings, whoa, a ball that you go forward to and block in Australia easily against spin, over there can roll along the ground, can bounce and take your glove.
“You can go to block it outside off and it bowls you leg stump, natural variation over there is massive.”
Andrew McDonald explains lack of tour match in India
Australia coach Andrew McDonald explained to the Sydney Morning Herald that his side's decision not to play a tour match before the Test series gets underway in Nagpur on February 9, was in line with the approach Cricket Australia has adopted in other recent tours. Following an already busy summer schedule that has included two Tests against the West Indies and four against South Africa, McDonald says keepers the players fresh is of paramount importance.
“No tour game is something we’ve done in the last few series, before embarking on overseas tours,” McDonald said. “We feel as though we don’t need that match practice as such. We’re going to go to India about a week out from the first game. We didn’t want to press for too much longer, in terms of the preparation.
“We feel as though seven days is ample time to get ready and to make sure we maintain freshness throughout the whole four Test match series.” The Australia coach said his side would be working in close consultation with local groundsmen in India and using "creative" methods such as "dusting up wickets" to replicate the wickets the players will be competing on.
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