x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Clarke backs Watson as Australia’s team man after Ashes win over England

The captain’s endorsement of his former vice captain follows a row in India in March, when Pat Howard, Cricket Australia’s team performance manager, gave the impression that Watson was not a team player.

Some see the comments by Michael Clarke, praising Shane Watson’s impact on Australia’s 3-0 Ashes win over England, as vindication for the player. David Gray / Reuters
Some see the comments by Michael Clarke, praising Shane Watson’s impact on Australia’s 3-0 Ashes win over England, as vindication for the player. David Gray / Reuters

SYDNEY // Michael Clarke praised Shane Watson’s approach of putting the team first in this week’s Ashes-winning Perth Test, and he described him as an example to young players.

The captain’s endorsement of his former vice captain follows a row in India in March, when Pat Howard, Cricket Australia’s team performance manager, gave the impression that Watson was not a team player.

Watson clashed with Mickey Arthur, the former Test coach, when he was one of four players who failed to submit written feedback requested by team management in India, where Australia were on the wrong end of a sweep in a four-Test series.

At the time, Howard let slip in a press conference that he believed Watson “acts in the best interests of the team – sometimes” – and there was a perception that the much-maligned all-rounder was a selfish cricketer.

Former teammates of Watson, 32, leaped to his defence, and before the Ashes tour to England in June, Watson said that he and Howard had sorted out any misunderstandings.

Some see the comments by Clarke, praising Watson’s impact on Australia’s 3-0 Ashes win over England, as vindication for the player.

Clarke said Watson’s near run-a-ball century and willingness to risk his wicket in the second innings was a lesson to teammates as Australia strive for a return to the top of the Test rankings.

“What Watto did the other day was put the team first,” Clarke said. “He knew we were trying to score as many runs as we could before our declaration and he put the team first, which is a great example to the young players that that’s what we’re trying to do in our team. It’s good to see.”

Before Watson’s century at The Oval in August, the last hundred from an Australian was from Shaun Marsh in Sri Lanka, two years previous.

“It’s obviously a tough position, there’s no doubt about it,” Clarke said. “Watto is hitting the ball as good as I’ve seen.”

England coach Flower gets some support from Schofield

A key architect of the revival of English cricket backed under-fire coach Andy Flower on Thursday after the team surrendered the Ashes to Australia.

Ken Schofield, who authored a report on the way forward for England after their 5-0 Ashes whitewash in 2006/07, called for Flower to remain in the job after the current series ends.

Flower’s coaching future is unclear after his first Ashes defeat. Schofield, whose 2007 report recommended the implementation of the existing structure in the English game, called for a calm approach when reviewing the Ashes tour.

“I would like to think the fact these results have gone so wrong would want him to have another go and not leave on a negative. Only he would know,” Schofield told Fairfax Media.

Schofield added that he thinks England have been on the slide since being beaten at home by South Africa in 2012 under Andrew Strauss, a defeat that cost them the top Test ranking.

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