Sydney: The Australian media has said that the tension between national captain Michael Clarke and Shane Watson had intensified when Clarke was made captain and Watson his deputy in 2011.
While Australia puts the finishing touches on preparations for the second Test against England, starting at Lord`s on Thursday, the deep divide between Clarke and Watson is again in the spotlight after sacked coach Mickey Arthur reportedly included details of their feud in a four million-dollar action against Cricket Australia (CA).
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, even though Clarke had insisted that the team is united as it has been for a long time under new coach Darren Lehmann, however, Arthur`s allegations have thrust the pair`s historically fractured relationship back in focus, and with the Ashes on the line.
Stating that the duo have known each other since their days as promising juniors and in many ways are very similar, the report said that even though both reached the top by combining their rich talent with infinite ambition and drive, their deep divide was sparked the moment Clarke became Australian captain.
According to the report, the antagonism intensified with Watson part of an `old guard` that over the ensuing two years became increasingly isolated within the squad and resentful of what was perceived as Clarke`s favourable treatment towards a group of younger players with whom it was felt he was aligned.
Even before their rift was confirmed by Arthur, it had got to the point where Australian officials were conceding publicly there was a major problem, despite the two players insisting they had not fallen out, and the report added that the dramatic events of Mohali and India were only the flashpoint in relations between Clarke and Watson, and in Watson`s role as a team leader.
The report further said that the way Clarke used Watson, one of Australia`s key weapons, lower down the order and as a fourth seamer as compared to former captain Ricky Ponting`s using Watson as a partnership breaker with the ball, also brings out the rifts between them.
However, the report called on them to improve their relations to an extent, adding that Australia`s chances of beating England were never going to be improved if they were at each other`s throats.