Shane Warne says Michael Clarke has work still to do on improving team harmony in the Australian dressing room.
Warne says Clarke is without peer as the best tactician in world cricket, however he concedes his “best friend” isn’t without fault as a leader.
The outspoken leg-spinner also admitted he’d been too harsh on England captain Alastair Cook earlier this week, but still said Kevin Pietersen or Graeme Swann would do a better job skippering the side.
Cook’s lost just one match from 16 Tests as skipper, while Clarke has lost six Tests against England and India already this year.
Warne said Australia’s team culture had already shown signs of improving since Darren Lehmann took over as coach but there was work still to do.
“Clarke has Cook covered on tactics but where he must improve is in creating a happier team environment,” Warne wrote in his column for Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
“The Australian team were noticeably happier at the end of the English summer and, as Clarke and Lehmann’s partnership started to take hold, Australia played better.
“If we look back over the years to when England lost eight Ashes series in a row there were a lot of people in their side playing for themselves and their own positions. It was a selfish environment. This is what Clarke has to avoid at all costs.
“It looks a happier team than during the ICC Champions Trophy in June and the first couple of Test matches in England but the work has to continue.
“To me Australia have to improve in more areas than England if they are to regain the Ashes.
“But if England want to be the best Test side in the world, then Cook has to be more aggressive and proactive.”
Warne admitted it was hard to argue with Cook’s record of nine wins, six draws and one loss, but said England may struggle to regain the No.1 Test ranking if they continue to play unimaginative cricket.
He said another of his mates, Pietersen could do a good job, despite the South African-born batsman’s disregard in the past for dressing room relations.
“If I had to choose a captain out of the England side it would be Kevin Pietersen or Graeme Swann,” he said.
“That may sound like an unbelievable thing to say after all the controversy of last year (involving Pietersen) but I think KP has the best cricket brain in the team.
“They are both imaginative, good readers of the game and take the aggressive option first, whereas Cook retreats too quickly. He goes very defensive when he should be stamping his authority on the match.”