Clarke: I’ll Return as Australian Captain – If Asked

Former Australian captain Michael Clarke has declared he would consider emerging from retirement should Steve Smith be stripped of the top role.

Ball tampering episode the worst Australian captaincy crisis since underarm incident

Following revelations the Australian cricket team planned to tamper with the match ball, former players and cricket personalities alike weighed in on social media.

The incident came on the third day of play against the Proteas in Cape Town. Cameron Bancroft used a yellow piece of tape to illegally tamper with the ball, a plan that was devised by the team’s leadership group during the lunch break. This included Smith and vice-captain David Warner.

Admitting his team had conspired to cheat on the third day of the third Test, an apologetic Steve Smith said he would not be resigning from the captaincy.

Clarke, who retired after Australia’s losing Ashes series of 2015, said he would consider returning – if asked, following the incident which he described as “disgraceful”.

“If I was asked by right people, then I would think about my answer,” Clarke said on Channel Nine’s Sports Sunday.

Clarke said the ball tampering reflected a failure of leadership in Australian cricket.

“Cameron Bancroft, this is his eighth Test match,” Clarke said. “I can’t believe if the leadership group has made a decision to do this that they’ve gone and got the young kid … as a leader you can’t ask somebody to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.

“Steve Smith is such a lovely, lovely guy … I really feel sorry for him.
“We’ve got the best bowling attack in the world. We don’t need to cheat to beat anybody. “

Clarke said it “would not be fair” for him to call for Smith to resign as captain or otherwise.

“I would need to do a lot more ground work before I make that decision. But I can gurantee you this is not a good look.”

The controversy has been branded Australia’s darkest day since the 1981 under-arm incident against New Zealand. Clarke added: “We see on one of the tweets that this is as bad a dayfor cricket as the under-arm ball – well, the under-arm ball was legal.”

Earlier, Clarke was among the initial outpour, pleading that the episode was “just a bad dream,” as it was revealed the side’s leadership group deliberately planned to cheat.

Former English captain Michael Vaughan took particular issue with the fact that it was one of the side’s relative newcomers tasked with the job.

Many of those contributing to the social media conversation suggest that given the admitted involvement of the leadership group, Smith’s position as captain is no longer tenable.