Michael Clarke has dropped a bombshell on Monday morning, claiming he has heard captain Pat Cummins will be axed ahead of Australia’s World Cup game against Sri Lanka.
Clarke, who was critical of the decision to dump Alex Carey ahead of the loss to South Africa, made the stunning claim while speaking on Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.
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“I heard last night that Pat Cummins is not going to be selected for this game,” he said.
“We’ve dropped our wicketkeeper… who is one of the most important people in your squad. So he got one game and got dropped. Now there’s talk we’re going to drop our captain.
“So in in two games our two most significant players in a squad on tour are going to be left out. Do you not know your best XI before you get to a World Cup?
“If Alex Carey is only given one game, he shouldn’t be in India. They shouldn’t have taken him. If Pat Cummins is going to get dropped and not captain the team, then you guys have selected the wrong captain.”
Clarke also took aim at Australia earlier in the week for its “horrible” preparation in the lead-up to the World Cup, something he doubled down on ahead of the game against South Africa.
“I heard the players say our preparation was perfect. No, no — you had enough games of cricket but you didn’t use those games,” Clarke said.
“You didn’t pick your best players. You didn’t work out are we going to bat first, bowl first. You didn’t work out who’s playing where, you didn’t even pick your captain to let him captain some games of cricket. So come World Cup semi-final [or] grand final he knows exactly what he’s doing under pressure.
“Pat Cummins doesn’t captain enough games. He’s in India able to play but they rested him for a game.”
Cummins had spoken to the media on Sunday, admitting the five-time champions have “got to start winning and start winning quick” to rescue their faltering World Cup campaign.
Australia have lost both their opening matches, by six wickets to hosts India and 134 runs to South Africa, their heaviest defeat at a World Cup.
Despite boasting the batting firepower of David Warner and Steve Smith, they have yet to post a total of 200.
“We’re obviously 0-2, so we’ve got to start winning and start winning quick,” said Cummins ahead of Monday’s clash against Sri Lanka in Lucknow.
“Every game now becomes almost like a final. You’ve got to win just about all of them.”
The figures so far make for grim reading for Australia.
None of their batsmen have made a half-century with Smith top-scoring with 46 against India and Marnus Labuschagne matching that modest mark in the rout by South Africa.
They have also been hamstrung by their fielding performances. Against India, Virat Kohli was dropped on 12 before he went on to make a match-winning 85.
Had the catch been taken, India, chasing just 200 to win, would have been teetering at 20-4.
It got worse against South Africa where five chances went down. Needing 312 to win, Australia slumped to 70-6 and were reduced to a damage limitation exercise in an effort to shore up their run rate.
Clarke said the state of the pitch will be key to determining Australia’s fate.
“I need to see which pitch we’re playing on,” he said.
“If we’re playing on the same wicket as the other day I’m extremely nervous. We need a brand new wicket… we played the game two days ago against South Africa.
“There’s a pitch that looks pretty well prepared beside it. If we’re going to play on that pitch then I think we’ll definitely win.
“If we’re going to play on the used wicket that has already been played on that is going to be a really tough challenge for us because it will spin and it will be very two-paced and Sri Lanka and all subcontinents play better in those conditions. We have struggled big time in those conditions for a long time now.”
Australia are second from bottom of the 10-team table, behind even the Netherlands and propped up only by Afghanistan.
On Monday, they tackle fellow winless side Sri Lanka who have had no problems scoring runs — 326 against South Africa and 344 in the game with Pakistan.
Unfortunately for the 1996 champions, they conceded a World Cup record 428 to the Proteas while Pakistan’s pursuit to win by six wickets was the highest successful chase in tournament history.
Sri Lanka came out on top 3-2 in a five-match series with Australia on home soil in June last year.
However, Australia eased to a comfortable 87-run win when they sides met at the 2019 World Cup at The Oval.
Originally published as ‘Heard last night’: Michael Clarke’s shock Pat Cummins selection rumour