Michael Clarke slams reports of rift in team

Michael Clarke plays a shot at Trent Bridge
Michael Clarke has slammed reports that there is a rift in the Australian dressing room
©REUTERS / Action Images
 

Australian captain Michael Clarke has dismissed speculations suggesting a rift in his team played a big role in their Ashes defeat to England.

Reacting to the reports, Clarke maintained that the Australian team were a happy and united bunch.

Speculation was that there was a lack of communication between Clarke and his players to such an extent that the Australian captain reportedly even travelled separately.

The report also said that the omission of wicket-keeper, Brad Haddin, coupled with an alleged fight between the wives of two senior players, had apparently upset the momentum of the side.

Clarke lashed out at these speculations and didn’t hold back as he expressed his anger at what he termed as absolutely baseless stories.

"I can guarantee you, the feeling in this group is exceptional," Clarke told Australia's Triple M radio.

"There is no disharmony is this group whatsoever.

“The players are as tight as any team I've been a part of."

The 33-year-old also denied the notion that the players’ wives and girlfriends proved to be a distraction in the series thereby affecting performances of his team.

"That's absolute garbage," he said.

"I'll give back 10 of my Test 100s if it wasn't for my beautiful wife.

“I'd be half the player I was without her."

However, one thing Clarke did readily accept was his failure with the bat in the ongoing Ashes series in which he hasn’t even compiled a single fifty from eight innings. 

Clarke, who will retire after the final Test at The Oval, also added that it was the ideal time for him to hang up his boots.

"I've always prided myself on leading from the front as captain and making sure I'm contributing to success by making runs," he added.

"It's heartbreaking to have played the way I've played and not helped the team get over the line.

“The retirement is at the right time for me and the team."

One of the biggest tragedies in Australian cricket was the unfortunate demise of batsman Phil Hughes last year and Clarke confessed that the loss of his close friend had taken a toll on him mentally.

While dwelling on the impact the incident had caused on him, Clarke also refused to make any excuses for his poor run of form with the bat.

"The part I didn't expect was how hard it hit me personally, there's no doubt I miss him every day," he said.

"It still affects me personally but as an Australian sportsman, you need to be leading from the front and still performing and unfortunately I haven't been able to do that."

Young batting sensation Steve Smith is all set to take over as captain after the Ashes series and Clarke is positive about Australia’s future.

With a lot of ageing players in the side, the Australian side are likely to have a major overhaul in the immediate future and Clarke felt that it was important for the team to gel well during such crisis situations.

"There's going to be some tough times but I think the talent we have in the Australian sporting community is like no other," he said.

"I think that we need to stick together and keep the faith."

Australia's defeat at Trent Bridge on Saturday by an innings and 78 runs saw them hand England an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series and with it the urn. 

© Cricket World 2015