Steve Waugh and Shane Warne during their playing days. Photo: Simon AleknaShane Warne has drawn parallels between his own strained relationship with former captain Steve Waugh and the rift between Michael Clarke and Shane Watson, which he believes is overblown in Mickey Arthur’s court documents.
Warne is a confidant of Clarke and a mentor of Watson, and the champion leg spinner believes their arguments have centered mainly on Watson’s place in the batting order.
“I found when I was captain of ‘Watto’ in the IPL. I just backed him 100 per cent and he’d end up being player of the tournament,” Warne told ESPNcricinfo. “Pup’s [Clarke] been doing that but I think what people have missed is they’ve debated over where Shane Watson should bat. Watto wants to open, Michael Clarke’s thinking strong middle order, so I’m sure they’ve had a few heated debates about where he should bat.
“How that translates into they hate each other, they don’t get along, blah blah blah, it’s just been blown out of proportion I believe. And I know both the guys really well and I speak to both all the time. So I think it’s not a factual statement. But because of the batting situation and the way the team’s going, sometimes people can read too much into that. “They might have disagreements of opinions over things, but that’s okay. You don’t need to always agree and it doesn’t equal hating each other either.”
The champion leg spinner likened his differences with Waugh on cricketing issues, which peaked when Warne was dropped from the Test team in the West Indies in 1999, to the tensions between Clarke and Watson, which came to a head when Watson was one of four players suspended in India.
Observers of the pair on the current Ashes tour believe their relationship has improved since then, and Warne said it was not unusual for teammates who did not see eye-to-eye to have strong working partnerships.
“[Former] coach Geoff Marsh still wanted to go with me, so it all got a bit ugly, and that was not great to be honest, it wasn’t very easy,” Warne recalled of the selection unrest with Waugh in the West Indies. “But we always had respect for each other. We always had different views – Steve was a very defensive, negative type of person, he was always a match saver. He wouldn’t go out there and tear an attack apart, he would just slowly go about it and grind them down. I was a bit more aggressive, had a bit more flair about my game and was more of a risk-taker. Sometimes that works, and that’s why we had quite a successful period as captain and vice-captain because we contrasted.”
Clarke relinquished his role as a selector when Arthur was sacked, and new coach Darren Lehmann wants him to focus on the things he does best, batting and leading the team on the field.
Warne said Clarke and Watson, who is no longer vice-captain, could still have a productive relationship if they disagreed about certain things.
“They have disagreements in the change room on certain things and batting orders and that sort of stuff,” Warne said. “But that’s healthy, you don’t want ten robots in there just going ‘yes Michael, whatever you want Michael’. You want someone to say ‘I disagree with that Pup, let’s declare at 320’. In the end he’s accountable because the wins and losses go against his name.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.