Michael Clarke has delivered a timely reality check for the Australian cricket team, taking aim at selectors for the sensational axing of Alex Carey and “horrible” preparation in the lead-up to the World Cup.
It comes after Australia slumped to a second-straight defeat to open its World Cup campaign, crashing to a 134-run loss to South Africa after a horror collapse of 6-43.
Australia made two changes ahead of Thursday’s game, with Marcus Stoinis returning from injury to replace Cameron Green while Carey was dumped for Josh Inglis.
The decision to recall Inglis, while understandable considering Carey’s batting form in recent ODIs, did not pay off as the 28-year-old managed just five runs while making a few costly mistakes at wicketkeeper.
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Speaking on Sky Sports Radio’s ‘Big Sports Breakfast’, Clarke said the decision to drop Carey made it appear as if he was to blame for Australia’s loss to India in the World Cup opener.
“I don’t know what positives we can take out of that game,” Clarke said.
“I don’t think selections were right? I’m unsure how you can take Alex Carey to India in the World Cup squad, give him one game and then drop him.
“No disrespect [to] Josh Inglis, I don’t know him at all and I’ve heard from a lot of people that he’s very talented and there’s something about him, but unfortunately last night he didn’t have a great night with the gloves.
“He dropped some balls early… he didn’t look… I’ve got to be careful how I say this because I don’t know him and it’s not just about him. I just think Alex Carey is a better keeper. And I think we saw that in the first 10 overs of the game.
“I don’t know how they drop Alex Carey after one game, like what’s the point of taking him? And now what do you do? You reinstate him? You bring him back?
“… You can’t look at the first game against India and go. ‘OK, Alex Carey is the problem. Drop him’. That’s the other thing I think that frustrated me when I saw that line-up. I thought, hang on, you’re pretty much blaming Alex Carey for our performance against India.”
Of course, that is not to say that Inglis should be singled out after Thursday’s loss because that would just be making the same mistake.
Rather, Clarke also pointed towards the “terrible” fielding as an issue across the board for Australia, while also questioning captain Pat Cummins’ tactics.
“I fought harder than anyone for Pat Cummins to be Australian captain and I still stand here and say I think he’s the right man for the job but tactically last night I think he got it wrong again,” Clarke said.
“He won the toss and bowled, I think he ball-chased and I don’t think he was aggressive enough. I don’t think he looked to take wickets. I feel like I’m wasting my breath. The easiest way to slow scoring is to take wickets yet we continue in Twenty20 cricket and one-day cricket, try to prevent runs.
“How is Pat Cummins not bowling in the first 10 overs? Or even if you’re going Glenn Maxwell, like we did, you’ve got to have a slip to the left hander? You’ve probably got to have a bat-pad to the right hander, like you’ve got to look to take wickets early.
“I love him and I’m more than happy for him to be captain but he’s got to do some work on that.”
It is consistent with commentary from Mark Taylor on Nine’s coverage of Thursday’s game, with the former Australian captain also criticising the team’s fielding approach.
“It becomes a plague because Australia aren’t thinking aggressively enough, they’re waiting for the game to come to them rather than grabbing the game,” Taylor said of the missed opportunities.
“I always think in one-day cricket in particular, but particularly in the sub-continent, you’ve got to think about getting batsmen out. It’s the best way to keep the runs down. The more you think about being defensive [and] saving boundaries, boundaries come.
“And also your fielders aren’t looking to take those great catches that change the game. At the moment I think the Australians are waiting for the game to come to them rather than grabbing the game.”
The preparation for the World Cup was another topic that Clarke kept coming back to, describing it as “horrible” and accusing Australia of repeating past mistakes in that regard.
“We are not there at the moment and honestly, no disrespect, but we haven’t been for a while,” he said.
“The Twenty20 World Cup, that’s not OK. We’re better than that. It’s not OK. Leaving England, leveleld series, is not OK. That series was ours for the taking.
“The way we lost to India in India… our preparation for that tournament [was] not OK. Then winning the Test Championship — amazing. So that swept all this other stuff under the carpet. That’s not right.
“Now here, our preparation for this World Cup, we won two games out of seven. We had a brilliant lead-in for this World Cup, an awesome amount of cricket, good competitive cricket. “We should have turned up to India in our prime.”
But Australia didn’t and the decision to drop Carey as a result was just one example of a broader issue for the team according to Clarke.
“I think we’ve got selections wrong for a long time. I really do,” he said.
“And again, George Bailey, great mate — love George. But it’s not about the person. I’m not having a crack at the person.
“But what we have done for the last, I’m going to say six months [or even] longer than that. We have got so many things wrong in regards to giving ourselves the best chance.
“And I’ll go back to the Test series in India, our preparation for that tour was disgraceful.”
For all the doom and gloom surrounding the Australian cricket team, Clarke was also quick to point out this World Cup campaign is far from over for Cummins’ side.
Originally published as Michael Clarke’s Wallabies warning for Australian cricket team as Pat Cummins’ tactics questioned