Sydney — Former captain Michael Clarke has slammed attempts to improve Australian cricket’s image in the wake of a cheating scandal, insisting the team “won’t win a game” without its infamous abrasive attitude.
A scathing independent review into the ball-tampering scandal released in October revealed a bullying culture within the sport and criticised cricketers for “playing the mongrel” against opponents.
In response, the team produced a so-called players’ pact, urging Australians to “compete with us, smile with us, fight with us, dream with us”.
Test captain Tim Paine has also spoken of shaking opponents’ hand before a series and respecting umpires, in stark contrast to the Australians’ previous conduct.
The nice-guy approach does not sit well with Clarke, who said winning should be Australia’s top priority, regardless of what anyone thought.
Australian cricket, I think, needs to stop worrying about being liked and start worrying about being respected,” he told commercial radio. “Play tough Australian cricket. Whether we like it or not, that’s in our blood.”
Clarke said that fans want victory more than they want a likeable team and Australia’s winning legacy is built on its hard-nosed attitude.
“If you try and walk away from it, we might be the most-liked team in the world, [but] we’re not going to win s**t ,” he said. “We won’t win a game.”
The scandal over cheating involved Australian players using sandpaper to alter the flight of the ball in a Test against SA at Newlands in March.
Coach Darren Lehmann quit in the wake of the controversy and then captain Steve Smith, deputy David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft received lengthy bans.
The affair also claimed the scalps of Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, chair David Peever and team performance boss Pat Howard.
Since Cape Town, the Australians have endured a dire run of form, losing 17 matches out of 24 in all formats. They face a tough home Test series against India starting on December 6.
● Cricket Australia named Earl Eddings on Wednesday to lead the organisation out of crisis, opting for a safe pair of hands already serving on the board.
The governing body said it has bumped Eddings from deputy and interim chair to the role full time.