AUSTRALIA captain Michael Clarke was forced to defend his conduct after claims that he warned England’s James Anderson to “get ready for a broken f***ing arm” during a crushing first Ashes Test victory yesterday.
The alleged flashpoint typified a growing animosity between the teams, with England captain Alastair Cook calling the Aussies “disrespectful” and comparing the on-field action to “war”.
Clarke dismissed his remarks as “banter” as he celebrated the home side’s 381-run triumph in Brisbane – a result that leaves England behind in an Ashes series for the first time in seven years.
The Australia captain, whose history of bad blood with Anderson dates back to that 2006-07 series, did not deny warning the England man as he prepared to face a delivery from fellow fast-bowler Mitchell Johnson.
“You must have great ears,” Clarke said when quizzed on the exchange, which was picked up by the stump microphone.
“Through my career there has always been banter on the cricket field, and I cop as much as I give. I’ve heard a lot worse than what the Australia players or the England players said throughout this Test match.”
Cook praised Australia’s emphatic recovery from a difficult first day but criticised their batsman David Warner, who hit a second-innings century, for labeling England’s Jonathan Trott “poor” and “weak”.
“I think the comment by David Warner was pretty disrespectful to any professional cricketer,” he said.
“On the pitch it’s pretty much a war. That’s the way people want to watch cricket being played, which, on the pitch, is fine. When you play each other for quite a few games in a row the niggles do increase.”
Cook’s 65 was an all too rare show of defiance as his side, set a target of 561 to win, lost by their fifth biggest margin in an Ashes Test.
Resuming on 24-2, Cook and Bell (32) guided the tourists to 142-4 before a heavy rain delay offered hope of a draw, but England collapsed to 151-8 after the resumption as Johnson claimed bowling figures of 5-42 and nine wickets in total from the match.
England have 10 days to regroup before the second Test in Adelaide.
England’s biggest margins of defeat in Ashes Tests
562 runs: The Oval, 1934
409 runs: Lord’s, 1948
384 runs: Brisbane, 2002
382 runs: Adelaide, 1895
381 runs: Brisbane, 2013
England’s away blues
England have been bowled out for less than 200 in an innings nine times since the start of 2012, and always overseas. The most recent time they were bowled out for less than 200 in both innings was against Pakistan in Dubai last year.