Australian skipper Michael Clarke has refuted talk of a rift with vice-captain Shane Watson, who on Wednesday was ruled out of the second Test against South Africa in Adelaide.
Clarke addressed the rumours which emerged since the first Test that he wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Watson when he fronted a match eve media conference on Wednesday.
“No, not at all. We have a great relationship firstly,” said Clarke.
“I know there’s been talk of that being a little bit different but Watto and I, our friendship and our professional relationship when it comes to captain and vice captain, is as close as I can certainly ask for.”
Confusion had reigned since Brisbane over whether Watson could be selected for the match starting on Thursday solely as a batsman, or if he would have to be fit to play as an allrounder to be selected.
In the end, it was decided Watson’s calf strain was too much of a risk and he will be given more time to get himself right for the third Test in Perth.
Australia stuck with the same side that secured a draw against the world No.1 Proteas at the Gabba, with Ben Hilfenhaus retained in the pace attack and young leftarmer Mitchell Starc again missing out.
Clarke said Watson simply ran out of time and denied attempts to get him fit this week were a pointless exercise.
“Once we got here, our intent was to give Watto every chance, as a very important player and vice-captain of the team but unfortunately we’ve run out of time,” he said.
Clarke said he and the selectors stuck with Hilfenhaus because they saw great improvement from the bowling attack in the latter days of the Brisbane Test.
“I thought the bowlers came back really well. We took 14 South African wickets where they took five of ours,” he said.
“I think we’ve got a good combination. We’ve got a good mixture of aggression but also bowlers who can bowl long spells and dry runs up if required out there on that wicket.
“Generally in Adelaide, you have to bowl quite tight during periods of the game.”
Australian squad: Michael Clarke (capt), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Rob Quiney, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey Matthew Wade, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Starc (12th man).