‘Can’t believe it’: Cranky Clarke takes aim

Michael Clarke has slammed the timing of Australia’s upcoming ODI series against New Zealand, saying he would be surprised if anyone turns up to the games.

The former Australia captain says the matches are merely of token value and can only be for money.

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The Aussies will face the Black Caps at the SCG on Friday and Sunday, before the third and final match of the series at Blundstone Arena in Hobart on March 20, which makes it the latest finish to an international season in Australia outside World Cups since 1979.

Australia coach Justin Langer has voiced his concern about the mental fatigue arising from a packed international schedule in recent days, after his team suffered a 3-0 loss to South Africa in Johannesburg in their ODI series.

Over the next six months, Australia has white-ball tours of New Zealand and England, a Test series in Bangladesh and home fixtures against the Black Caps, Zimbabwe and West Indies.

The Australian squad returns home from South Africa on Monday and has just days to prepare for New Zealand’s visit.

Clarke says there are too many games of cricket and he can’t see the benefit of this series.

“Absolute token games of cricket,” he said on Big Sports Breakfast. “To be honest, I can’t believe it. I’m a cricket fan through and through, but whoever has made the decision to put these three ODIs on, it’s footy season.

“Cricket season is finished. What a great way to finish it with the women winning the World Cup as well.

“I’ll be very surprised if anybody turns up to watch those games.

“We’re playing way too much. We don’t need to. This can only be for money. I’m not even sure who’s making money from it. TV rights? How many people are tuning in?”

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The Aussies will have to motivate themselves after a tough tour of South Africa.Source:AP

Clarke’s comments come after he called for limited overs skipper Aaron Finch to stand down from the role after the men’s T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.

Clarke speculated Test captain Tim Paine may retire after next summer’s home series against India, and said it would be the perfect time to put fast bowler Pat Cummins in charge of the national side in all three formats.

“For Australian cricket right now, the position they’re in, I think they need one captain across all three formats. So again, no disrespect to Aaron Finch, he’s done a wonderful job, but at the end of this T20 World Cup in November this year, I think it could be the right time for him to stand down as well and in my opinion, Pat Cummins (should) take over the captaincy across all three formats,” Clarke said.

“He reads the game really well — yes he’s an opening bowler but he can bat, he’s brilliant in the field, he sees the game how a captain needs to see the game.

“I’m actually going to be interested, number one, to see if Cricket Australia offer that opportunity back to Smithy (Steve Smith) when Tim Paine’s gone, and number two and most importantly, if Steve Smith would accept it,” Clarke said.

“I think there’s probably a great opportunity, if Steve is offered that chance, to actually decline it because of those reasons. Yes he’s our best player, but he can be that captain without that C beside his name.”

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