MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Michael Clarke has branded a prominent Australian sports journalist a “headline chasing coward” in a rant on social media after the broadcaster linked the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal with cultural failings during his captaincy.
Journalist Gerard Whateley said on his programme on local radio station SEN that Australia had become the “most despised team in world cricket... a scourge that is part of Clarke’s legacy.”
Clarke, who led the side from 2011-15, defended his record as captain in a lengthy tirade on Twitter.
“I played to win, but played by the rules of the game and to a similar level of aggression to the other international teams I played against,” he wrote.
“My conduct as an honest and ‘by the rules captain’ has never been questioned, sanctioned or fined other than when I stuck up for George Bailey when he was being bullied by an opponent,” he wrote.
Clarke was fined for telling England paceman James Anderson to “get ready for a broken... arm” during a test in the 2014-15 Ashes series, but has always maintained it was in response to Anderson making a threat at Australia batsman Bailey.
Clarke renewed his attack on Whateley on radio on Thursday, saying he was “out of line”.
“Trying to blame me for cheating in South Africa is a disgrace,” he added.
The ball-tampering scandal in March led to long suspensions for former captain Steve Smith, vice captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft, and triggered reviews into the culture of the men’s team and governing body Cricket Australia.
Under Tim Paine, Smith’s replacement as captain of the test side, Australia has committed to being less aggressive on the field of play, a stance which has drawn derision from Clarke and a number of former players.
With the four-test home series against India looming, Clarke told local radio earlier this week that Australia would not win any matches if they did not play “tough cricket”.
Paine, however, said his team would still play “that confident, aggressive style of cricket that Australia wants to play”.
“No one has spoken about being liked, certainly by the opposition,” Paine told ESPNcricinfo.
“We’ve spoken about wanting to get the Australian public’s trust and make sure that clearly you want the Australian public and cricket fans to like or love the Australian test team.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by John O'Brien