Claims Australia skipper Michael Clarke eroded baggy green culture rubbished by newly-retired seamer Ryan Harris

 
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Retired Australia seamer Ryan Harris has issued a robust defence of outgoing skipper Michael Clarke as the stream of criticism regarding his captaincy continued yesterday in the wake of Ashes defeat.

Former coach John Buchanan, in charge of Australia during the first four years of Clarke’s international career, accused the 34-year-old of allowing the baggy green team culture to erode during his tenure as captain.

“Players like Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting and others really tried to make the baggy green culture something special but I could sense it was under threat under Michael’s captaincy,” said Buchanan.

Ex-players Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds have also been quick to lambast Clarke after Australia’s demise in the fourth Investec Test on Saturday handed England an unassailable 3-1 series lead, views which Harris vigorously contests.

“One that has angered me is John Buchanan. The way he came out and slammed Clarke. To hear him come out and say that was very, very disappointing,” said Harris. “It’s just ridiculous, his life was the baggy green.

“Clarke did a great job. There were times in the last few years when he was copping it on and off the field, and he’d stand up and put performances together that were just unbelievable.”

The presence of wives and girlfriends on the tour also proved a bone of contention for former Test wicketkeeper Ian Healy, who claimed it hampered preparation – a stance dismissed by the Australian Cricketers’ Association.

“Having families on tour is an important part of the support network,” said ACA chief Alistair Nicholson. “Overseas campaigns can be brutal and the short periods they spend with their families has a positive impact.”