Watson is to Clarke what Lillee was to Hughes

FP Editors, Mar, 12 2013

Many people treated Michael Clarke and Mickey Arthur's decision to exclude four Australia players, including vice-captain Shane Watson, as a never-seen-before event especially when it comes to Australian cricket, but the truth is anything but that.

Clarke, of course, has had clashes with Simon Katich and Andrew Symonds in the past, but even that was nothing when compared to the treatment that was meted out to former skipper Kim Hughes by seniors Rodney Marsh, Dennis Lillee and Rodney Hogg during the 80s.

The crux of the problem was that Lillee, Hogg and Marsh though that Hughes was too soft and he had somehow usurped the spot that should have been Marsh's by right.

In the book Golden Boy, an unauthorised biography of former Australian captain Kim Hughes, journalist Christian Ryan made revelations that make the current impasse seem like child's play in comparison.

Clarke wanted feedback from the players. He didn't get it -- so he decided to not pick the players at fault for one match.

Watson hasn't thrown a punch yet. Has he? Getty Images

Watson hasn't thrown a punch yet. Has he? Getty Images

But when Lillee, Marsh and Hogg didn't get what they wanted -- they retaliated as testosterone-powered college boys usually do.

Lillee, for example, would bowl line and length to everyone in the nets but as soon Hughes would come in to bat, he would mark his long run-up and bowl only bouncers. On one occassion, Hughes needed an X-ray before the start of the 1982-83 Ashes after he was hit on the forearm.

In the book, some of the Australian players described the scene:

Murray Bennett: "I couldn't believe it. The two blokes were on the same side and Lillee seemed to be taking some cheap shots at him.

"Every ball was short. I thought 'there's something missing here'. I guess I was a bit disgusted."

Geoff Lawson: "Lillee nearly broke Kim's arm. Just ran in and bowled lightning to him in the nets and Kim had to go off for an X-ray, as I recall. Got him on the forearm the day before the Ashes started.

Graeme Wood (recalling the day before a Test against Pakistan at the Gabba): "Oh, you know, again it was on. I remember Kim getting hit, right near the elbow, sort of, the forearm.

"Had to get ice on it and there was doubt whether he would play. Not the great morale-booster you need before a Test."

The hostility was clear and present for all to see. In one passage, former Australian vice-captain Craig Sergeant recalls another net session -- it was the same old scene, Lillee running in and bowling short. But this time, Lillee looked remorseful as he retrieved the ball.

"Sorry," said Lillee.

"Oh, that's OK," said Hughes.

"Sorry I didn't f***in' hit ya," said Lillee.

That wasn't all though. Rod Marsh would frequently poke fun at the skipper even when they were on the field. He would ridicule the field settings and frequently change them of his own accord.

When Australian coach Peter Philpott tried to play peacemaker, he was told by Marsh, in no uncertain terms to mind his own business.

"He's got the job. He's a big boy. Let him stew in it," said Marsh.

Of course, there is also the incident when Rodney Hogg threw a punch at Hughes during a Test in West Indies. The bowler was frustrated that he was not given the field he wanted by his captain.

But Hughes didn't exclude them from the team. In fact, when you look at what Hughes was put through, you can't help think that Michael Clarke is lucky to not be living in the same era as Marsh, Lillee or Hogg.

Published Date: Mar 12, 2013 | Updated Date: Mar 12, 2013

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4493 125
2 South Africa 3395 110
3 England 4097 105
4 Australia 3087 100
5 New Zealand 3114 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 South Africa 5957 119
2 Australia 5505 117
3 India 4579 114
4 England 5645 113
5 New Zealand 5123 111
Rank Team Points Rating
1 New Zealand 1625 125
2 England 1962 123
3 Pakistan 2417 121
4 West Indies 2222 117
5 India 2183 115