No Homework-gate regrets for Clarke
Skipper reflects on his toughest period
25 July 2014, 08:02 AM AEST
Australia captain Michael Clarke has stood by his role in the 'Homework-gate' saga on Australia's tour of India last year, saying the team hierarchy's tough stance was "the best decision for Australian cricket".
The Aussies lost the four-Test series 4-0, but the flashpoint came after the second Test when four players - Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, James Pattinson and then vice-captain Shane Watson - were suspended for failing to complete a written task set by then coach Mickey Arthur.
At the time, Arthur and Clarke described the penalty as a "line in the sand" following a gradual decline in disciplinary standards off the field.
While Australia went on to lose the remaining two Tests in the series and drop to No.5 in the world rankings, Clarke says the saga was a crucial turning point for his side.
"India by far was the toughest period of my captaincy," Clarke told Fairfax.
"In the build up to that event (Homework-gate), there were a number of things that occurred over a long period of time; it wasn't just that event.
"Mickey drew a line in the sand and yes, I was a part of it, I stand by that, but I don’t regret it one bit.
"I backed my coach, I supported him and I believe the decision, especially now that I look back, was the best decision for Australian cricket."
Almost 18 months on, Clarke is the proud captain of the world's No.1 Test team after Australia's Ashes whitewash last summer and series win in South Africa earlier this year.
It was a different story last year, with Clarke and Arthur coming in for heavy criticism for what was perceived to be a heavy-handed punishment.
Watson, who returned home during his suspension for the birth of his first child, indicated at the time that the punishment had him reconsidering his Test future.
Arthur only remained in the job for another three months before he was replaced by Darren Lehmann.
Clarke said he was unfazed by criticism of his captaincy at the time and was more hurt by the poor performance of his side on the field.
"I was more disappointed and upset at the fact a team I was captaining was labelled the worst Australian team to tour India; I blame me," Clarke said.
"We said if you want to be a part of what I believe is the greatest team in the world, then you need to be willing to jump on the train and at the time, the whole team was not on the train.
"So for guys that let us down again, there's going to be severe punishment."
Clarke is currently enjoying a break from the game ahead of a busy 12-month schedule that includes a return series against India, the ICC Cricket World Cup, a tour of the Caribbean and another Ashes Tour.
Despite Australia being ranked No.1 in both Tests and one-day internationals, Clarke is far from satisfied.
"There's a hell of a lot still to achieve, I think our team's still growing," Clarke said.
"I still don't think we’re at our best as a group, but we're extremely proud of what we have achieved.
"We've got India; a tough Test team coming to Australia this summer and then we go back to England next summer for the Ashes, so there's still a lot of tough cricket in front of us, but we’re excited by that."