Melbourne:Dismissing speculation of a rift with Andrew Symonds post the 'go-fishing' episode, Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke has clarified that he did not alone take the call to send the all-rounder home but it was a collective decision of the 'leadership group'.
"When I was given the vice-captaincy, I knew part of that role was making sure you put the team first. The one thing that has probably been misinterpreted is that I didn't make the decision to send Andrew Symonds home on my own, it was the leadership group," Clarke said in Jaipur, where the Aussies are playing the Rajasthan Cricket Academy Centre of Excellence team in a practice match.
Clarke, who along with Ricky Ponting, coach Tim Nielsen and team manager Steve Bernard took the decision to remove Symonds, said he stood by it since it was in the interest of the team as well as Symonds.
"We believed and still believe it was best for the team and best for Symmo as well. I have made clear that I am still great friends with Andrew and I will be until the day I die. I want him back playing because I love playing cricket with him," he said.
Clarke's fledgling leadership was tested in Darwin when he gained first-hand experience of the extra responsibilities that come with the title of Ponting's deputy. His handling of a difficult situation drew praise from Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland.
The 27-year-old player is excited about returning to Bangalore, where four years ago he made his Test debut with a 151, for the opening Test against India.
"I want it to feel the same. Four years ago for my debut, it was tough cricket but my mindset was just about absolutely soaking up every chance of playing Test cricket for my country," he said.