Australian captain Michael Clarke says he and his ageing Ashes squad are determined to prove former fast bowler Jason Gillespie wrong.
Gillespie, who claimed 259 wickets during a 71-Test career for Australia, said Australia’s “Dad’s Army” Ashes squad was tired and old, due to the presence of 37-year-old duo Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin.
He also described Clarke as having a glass back.
Clarke refused to be drawn into a sledging battle with his former teammate, but said he had simply joined the long list of people who they’d be determined to prove wrong this Ashes.
“I’ve copped criticism my whole career. It’s not surprising to me,” Clarke said. “There’s a long list of people who’ve criticised this team, that’s for sure.
“We might just add Dizzy to that queue of people we continue to prove wrong.”
Far from being a hindrance, Clarke said the involvement of several players, who were likely on their last hurrah in international cricket, was providing additional motivation to become the first Australian team since 2001 to win an Ashes series in England.
Clarke has never been a part of a winning series in England, and has played in losing efforts in 2005, 2009 and 2013.
“I’ve seen a lot of hunger certainly within the senior players that haven’t had a chance to win over here,” Clarke said.
“I think that’s what’s been driving us the last couple of years to get out of bed and try and become better as individual players and also as a team.”
Clarke also laughed off comments from former England offspinner Graeme Swann, who questioned the technique of star Australian No.3, and the top-rated batsman in the world, Steve Smith.
Swann, who retired midway through the Ashes whitewash in Australia in 2013-14, said Smith didn’t strike fear into the England side like former tormentors Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist did.
“I reckon Swanny’s a beauty – I always liked him,” Clarke said.
“I loved playing cricket against him.
“I’m sure he’s probably just trying to get under the skin of a few of the players.
“It’s not what you say – it’s what you do. We’ll find out in five Test matches’ time if Steve Smith’s good enough to have success over here.”
Clarke said the upcoming Ashes series shaped as the greatest challenge this team had faced.
“That’s probably our greatest challenge as a team, to be honest,” he said. “Obviously, I haven’t won in England in my career, in the Test matches, and this team hasn’t had that success.
“We’ve played some really good cricket together, especially in Australia. And I’ve spoken a lot about us trying to be more consistent away from home.
“We played well against the West Indies and it was nice to win those two Test matches.
“But we’ve got a huge challenge now in these five Tests.”