Clarke takes pot shot at English wickets

With his parting message as Australian captain, the retiring Michael Clarke has taken a final pot shot at his old enemy England.


Clarke left Test cricket on Sunday with a heavy victory at the Oval inside four days, continuing a trend of short Tests throughout the series.

With two three-day Tests, both of which threatened to finish inside two, and three that were stretched into a fourth day, the combined total of 18 days of cricket is the shortest for a five-Test Ashes series in history.

It left Clarke to suggest local groundsmen had been leant upon to produce pitches, in particular the green monsters presented at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge, which suited the swing bowling of England spearheads Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad and ultimately shortchanged fans.

Suddenly, the series was lost, consigning Clarke to the unwanted record of four Ashes defeats from four attempts in England.

It left the 34-year-old miffed and prompted him to call on groundsmen to have more control over what surfaces they prepared.

“We’ve seen in the first two Test matches a lot of talk from the media and the commentators … about how flat the wickets were, yet those two Test matches were over in four days,” he said.

“One team won and one team lost. The next three are over in two and a half and three days.

“I think Test cricket is a five-day battle. I want to see good and fair cricket for both batters and bowlers. I think that’s the way the game should be played, and, most importantly, I want to see a winner and a loser.

“But if the groundsman feels he knows how to produce a good wicket that will be a great battle of Test match cricket then I’d like to see them back themselves and go with that and not be persuaded by what’s said in the media or what the commentators say.”

Clarke said he felt for fans who had bought day-four and day-five tickets, but had missed out on the action.

“Cardiff and Lord’s, we did see some really good cricket,” he said.

“I’m not saying the wickets were fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve seen a winner and a loser over four days.

“I think the past three Test matches have not been that case.

“People have tickets for today to watch a whole day’s play and tomorrow, and the same (occurred) for Edgbaston and Nottingham.

“I don’t know what influence the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) had … and, to be honest, I don’t know what influence (Cricket Australia) have in Australia either.

“If I go to the groundsman at the Gabba and say ‘I want it to be a turner like the SCG’ he’ll absolutely laugh at me. It might be different around the world.

“You’re given a role, a responsibility, and a job, and you want to be able to do your best at that.

“I’ve got a feeling, from the conversations I’ve had with a lot of the groundsmen in this country, they’re a little bit disappointed they haven’t been able to do as they’ve wanted to do.”

England captain Alastair Cook had a simple rebuttal: “The wickets are the same for both sides. In three out of the five Test matches we played better than Australia. That’s why we’ve won the Ashes.”