Former Australia coach John Buchanan has said the baggy green culture within the side seemed to have “disappeared a bit” under the captaincy of Michael Clarke.
Buchanan was coach of Australia for the first four years of Clarke’s international career but departed from the role in 2007, four years before Clarke was appointed captain. He said he recalled instances of senior players in the side struggling to instil into a young Clarke what they were trying to achieve with the team culture.
“Players like Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and others really tried to make the baggy green culture something special but I could sense it was under threat and under Michael’s captaincy I can sense it has disappeared a bit and that disappointed me,” Buchanan told News Ltd.
“I can remember guys like [Matthew] Hayden and [Justin] Langer sitting him down in a corner and trying to get him to understand what we were trying to achieve,” Buchanan said. “There were times when I felt Michael did not understand or did not want to understand.”
Buchanan’s comments followed on from some former players criticising Clarke in the wake of his retirement. Hayden said Clarke’s opinions sometimes ruffled feathers within the side, and “I know for a fact that they ruffled mine at times”, while Andrew Symonds questioned whether Clarke had been “a natural leader”.
However, Clarke’s former team-mate Ryan Harris, who retired on the eve of the Ashes series, launched a powerful defence of Clarke’s leadership. Interviewed on Melbourne’s SEN radio station, Harris said it was unfair to equate Clarke as a young man with Clarke the mature captain.
“He led very well and the guys respected that he was captain,” Harris said. “If there was a problem with something, someone would speak to him. He’d never create an environment where it’s my way or the highway. If something was not right or anyone wants to have an opinion about something, he was very approachable.
“One thing that has angered me a bit was John Buchanan, the way he came out and slammed him. What John has to realise is that when he was a 21-year-old, 22-year-old, 23-year-old, whatever he was, he was young. We’ve all been there. We all know how we act at times when we’re younger.
“He’s a guy who’s come into a team full of absolute legends, and they took him under their wing. He would have felt pretty special, he was earning good money. But you’re allowed to mature over life. That’s what I would have thought. That’s what I’ve done and that’s what I think Michael Clarke has done. To hear John Buchanan come out, an ex-coach, was very, very disappointing.”