Retired pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson has slammed the Australian team culture under former captain Michael Clarke and coach Mickey Arthur as fractured and “toxic”, saying the dynamics changed when Ricky Ponting retired. In his newly-released autobiography ‘Resilient’, Johnson suggested things were so bad that some teammates did not want to play, with cracks emerging after veteran Ponting called it quits in late 2012.
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“The dynamics definitely changed. It became more groups in the team. It wasn’t a team. There was different little factions going on and it was very toxic,” Johnson told Fox Sports News late Thursday.
“It just built very slowly but everyone could see it, everyone could feel it and nothing was being done at that time.”
The left-arm paceman, who took the fourth-most wickets (313 at 28.40) of any Test bowler in Australian history, was one of four players suspended by Arthur and Clarke for not completing a feedback task during Australia’s shambolic tour of India in 2013.
Arthur was eventually sacked before the side’s next Test campaign, the 2013 Ashes. It was reported during that tour that Arthur alleged Clarke had described senior teammate Shane Watson as “a cancer on the team”.
Clarke was back in the headlines last week following the release of his autobiography, which revisited his run-ins with Watson and Simon Katich.
He said Watson was part of a group that was “like a tumour” on the team, to which Watson replied that bringing up history reflected poorly on the former captain.
Katich, meanwhile, denied Clarke’s claims the two were now friends following a volatile showdown between the pair in the Sydney Cricket Ground changing rooms after a Test win in 2009.
“(Our relationship) has been non-existent, so to suggest we are mates now after everything that has happened is a bit of a stretch,” said Katich.