Clarke dispels rumours of rift with Watson
SKIPPER Michael Clarke says all is well in the Australian camp ahead of today's crucial second Test in Adelaide with South Africa.
The captain was quick to dispel rumours of a rift between himself and vice-captain Shane Watson after the all-rounder was left out of an unchanged Australian team to play the Proteas.
Mitchell Starc was the other player left out, with Ben Hilfenhaus once again filling the third seamer role.
The skipper seemed to hint he saw Watson as an all-rounder only, but said he simply was not fit enough to withstand the rigours of a Test match rather than any perceived problem between skipper and vice-skipper.
"No, not at all. We have a great relationship firstly," Clarke said of rumours of a rift.
"I know there's been talk of that being a little bit different but Watto and I, our friendship and our professional relationship when it comes to captain and vice-captain, is as close as I can certainly ask for."
Clarke added Watson simply was not fit enough to play, adding: "With Watto ... he's improved a lot over the last few days, but we feel like he's probably a few days short of being 100%.
"We're doing everything in our power to give him the opportunity to be right for the third Test in Perth.
"He sees himself as an all-rounder, he wants to be an all-rounder, he knows the impact he has on this game with both bat and ball. He's a huge part of our squad when he's doing both."
The skipper said he was happy with how the bowlers responded after a slow start at the Gabba and said the decision of who to pick was not solely down to a choice between Hilfenhaus and Starc.
"I thought we did really well after - obviously there was rain on day two in Brisbane - but after day one I thought the bowlers came back really well," Clarke said.
"We took 14 South African wickets, they took five of ours.
"We've got a good combination, we've got a good mixture of aggression but also bowlers that can bowl long spells and dry runs up if required out there on that wicket."