SYDNEY • Australia cricket captain Michael Clarke has angrily denied claims that the team's disastrous England tour has been plagued by off-field dramas, saying it is "absolute garbage".
The 34-year-old announced his retirement from international cricket after England completed a crushing innings and 78-run victory in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge last Saturday to take an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the five-match Ashes series. He will play the final Test at The Oval on Aug 20 before the curtain comes down on a distinguished career.
But his departure has been met by rumblings of off-field unrest in the Australian media, with the Brisbane Courier Mail claiming there was a long-running feud between the wives of two senior players which caused distractions.
It also claimed Clarke refused to travel on the team bus or socialise with team-mates, while the dropping of popular vice-captain Brad Haddin after time off for family reasons did not go down well.
"There is no disharmony in this group whatsoever. The players are as tight as any team I've been a part of," Clarke told Sydney radio station Triple M yesterday.
There is no disharmony in this group whatsoever. The players are as tight as any team I've been a part of.
MICHAEL CLARKE, the Australian cricket captain who is quitting international cricket after the ongoing Ashes series
"Travelling in different cars? What a load of s**t.
"Wives and girlfriends being on tour is a distraction? What a load of s**t. That's absolute garbage. I'll give back 10 of my Test 100s if it wasn't for my beautiful wife."
The newspaper had claimed it was "the year-long disintegration in the off-field relationship between Clarke and the rest of the team" that hindered any chance of Ashes success.
"He often chooses to travel by private car instead of the team bus and rarely attends team get-togethers," it reported.
"On the night that he made his decision to step down, team members were stunned when he joined them for a rare drink in the hotel bar, although he ended the night drowning his sorrows with former team-mate Shane Warne rather than any of the current side."
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has vowed a full review of the tour, and Clarke said the players had to accept blame.
"At the end of the day the players are the ones who walk onto the field, we have to perform and we haven't performed well enough," he said.
On the global cricket front, former Indian administrator Lalit Modi has admitted his involvement in a move to overthrow the sport's establishment, aiming to create a new world governing body affiliated with the Olympic movement.
The former Indian Premier League chairman, who lives in London and is wanted by Indian police over allegations of money laundering linked to a lucrative television deal, said a detailed plan had been years in the making.
"We're talking about another cricketing system. There is a blueprint out there, it's got my rubber stamp on it," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"We could take on the existing establishment, no problem. It requires a few billion dollars, I don't think it would be a problem to get that into action."
His plan foresees a rival calendar of events to the International Cricket Council's, based on Test matches and Twenty20 games.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS