Michael Clarke has blasted Australia’s selectors and team officials, saying they are “burning” Steve Smith and “shooting themselves in the foot” by playing Cameron Green ahead of the T20 World Cup.
Clarke, who won the ODI World Cup in 2007 and later led Australia’s victorious campaign at the 2015 tournament on home soil, did not mince his words on Friday morning, believing they had got their selection wrong ahead of this month’s T20 World Cup.
It comes after Smith was left out of Australia’s T20 against the West Indies on Wednesday night, with Green chosen to open the batting despite not being selected in Australia’s World Cup squad.
Watch Australia v West Indies. Every T20 Live & Exclusive to Fox Sports on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Finch’s 58 guides Aussies to Windies win | 04:17
In addition to Smith’s omission, captain Aaron Finch slid down to bat at No.4.
Finch, who scored a timely 58 during Australia’s three-wicket win, revealed it was his decision to drop down the order so Green could continue where he left off following an eye-catching series in India.
The match also saw Mitch Marsh return to the Australian line-up, albeit on a batting capacity only, while Marcus Stoinis is poised to return against England on Sunday in Perth with selectors keen to get a look at how the batting all-rounder is progressing after his own injury setback.
But Clarke said Australia’s officials were doing it wrong by not affording Smith more time out in the middle, believing everything had to be done with the World Cup in focus.
“My theory is this, Mitch Marsh wasn’t bowling so they had to pick Cameron Green over Steve Smith to give us an extra bowling option but what they’re doing is shooting themselves in the foot at the moment,” Clarke said on the Big Sports Breakfast.
“The most important thing right now is we prepare for this World Cup .. so Steve Smith’s form in Twenty20 cricket over the last couple of years hasn’t been as good as he would like. He’s got to play.
“He’s got to play and he’s got to own his role, is he going to bat 4, is he going to bat 3?You’ve got to let him play so even it if it means you play one bowler short in these games, I still think you’ve got to allow your players to play.”
Clarke said Australia was being too cute for their own good, believing they needed to back those in the World Cup squad for now.
“I think they’re preparing for both scenarios. If Marcus Stoinis is fit, he’s in the World Cup squad … If Stoinis is fit then Cameron Green can’t come into the squad, so that’s their plan A,” he said.
“If Stoinis is not fit then Cameron Green will come into the squad, so they’re trying to have their cake and eat it – OK while’s Stoinis isn’t playing get Cameron Green some cricket and bring him in but what they’re doing is burning Smithy by doing that because he’s not getting any cricket.”
Report: Under-siege Finch roars back to life in shock new role as Wade stars in comical T20 ending
‘Can’t remember a better shot in the history of the game’: Cricket stunned by ‘freakish’ six
’Makes no sense’: Greats baffled by Finch call as Aussies ‘caught on the hop’ by rising star
Clarke added that the push to give Green as much cricket as possible was an example that selectors got his exclusion wrong.
The former batter also backed Smith to star in the tournament, believing his quality would shine on the biggest stage.
“(It looks as if) if Cameron Green is in the squad he will be in the starting XI. That tells me they’ve made a mistake,” he said.
“They should have picked him in the squad.
“Again, with Mitch Marsh they want him to bat at number 3, so Smith is going to be the one to bat at number 4, let him play these games, let him play every game so he goes into the World Cup at his best.
“He will find a way to make runs, he’s too good a player in any format, especially at a World Cup.”
Smith, meanwhile, was playing down his exclusion from the opening game, pointing to the depth in the squad.
“We’ve got a really good depth to our squad,” Smith told reporters on Thursday.
“Tim David’s come in and done really well. Everyone’s in a good place. So we’ll wait and see.
“People talk about matchups for different oppositions and conditions – we’ve got a really good squad so we can pick it accordingly … we’ve got options whichever way we go about it.”
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
West Indies: Nicholas Pooran (c), Rovman Powell (vc), Shamarh Brooks, Yannic Cariah, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Kyle Mayers, Obed Mccoy, Raymon Reifer, Odean Smith
Follow all the live action in our blog below!