Team culture eroded under Clarke: Ex-Australia coach

CANBERRA • The legacy of retiring Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke has again been threatened, with former national coach John Buchanan saying the "culture" within the team "disappeared" under his leadership.

Talking to News Corp yesterday, Buchanan took a swipe at Clarke's four-year reign following the captain's announcement of retirement from Test cricket over the weekend.

Clarke's decision came along with Australia having to return the coveted Ashes urn to England after losing the best-of-five series 1-3 away with a match left.

Buchanan, who was the Test squad's coach from 1999 until his retirement in 2007, led the team alongside greats Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Steve Waugh, but said that under the divisive figure of Clarke, the culture of the "baggy green" the distinctive caps awarded to Australian players - had been eroded.

Buchanan said that Clarke, 34, never fully bought into the sense of accomplishment and pride that went with pulling on the green cap.

Only 443 players have pulled on the iconic baggy green since 1877.

"Players like Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and others really tried to make the baggy green culture something special but I could sense it was under threat and under Michael's captaincy I can sense it has disappeared a bit and that disappointed me," the 62-year-old said.

Buchanan said that older players had at times tried to guide Clarke in honing his leadership skills, but he was not eager to learn.

"I can remember guys like Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer sitting him down in a corner and trying to get him to understand what we were trying to achieve," Buchanan said. "There were times when I felt Michael did not understand or did not want to understand."

Yesterday, Hayden said Clarke was a strong figure but not a strong leader, often professing the "my way or the highway" mentality with his players.

"Sometimes (Clarke's) opinions ruffled feathers. I know for a fact that they ruffled mine at times," Hayden told local media.

On Monday, Clarke, whose farewell match will start on Aug 20 at The Oval in London, lashed out at his accusers, saying that reports of a rift within the Australian camp were " absolute garbage". XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'Team culture eroded under Clarke: Ex-Australia coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe