Melbourne: Former captain Michael Clarke believes current Australian players were too scared to sledge Virat Kohli and in order to protect their million dollars Indian Premier League (IPL) deals, they "sucked up" to the Indian skipper which resulted in their cricket becoming "soft".
Speaking on Big Sports Breakfast, Clarke said Australian cricket went through a phase when players were too scared to sledge Indian stars as they feared it could jeopardise their contracts in the IPL.
"Everybody knows how powerful India are in regards to the financial part of the game, internationally or domestically with the IPL," the 2015 World Cup-winning captain said.
"I feel that Australian cricket, and probably every other team over a little period, went the opposite and actually sucked up to India. They were too scared to sledge Kohli or the other Indian players because they had to play with them in April," he added.
Clarke further said a number of Indian superstars like Kohli and Rohit Sharma were captains of their IPL franchises and thus Australian players did not want to sledge them.
"Name a list of ten players and they are bidding for these Australian players to get into their IPL team," he said.
"The players were like: "I'm not going to sledge Kohli, I want him to pick me for Bangalore so I can make my $1 million for my six weeks"."
According to the 39-year-old, this behaviour of the Australian cricketers took away the ruthless nature that had characterised country's cricket teams for decades.
"I feel like that's where Australia went through that little phase where our cricket become a little bit softer or not as hard as we're accustomed to seeing."
Kohli has had a rollercoaster relationship with Australian players right from the start of his career.
Before the 2017 Test series, he had said that he was "good friends" with a lot of Australian players. However, at the end of the four-match series which included Steve Smith's "brain fade moment", he concluded that his equation with many of the Australian cricketers had changed.
Even in 2018-19 tour Down Under where India registered their first-ever Test series win in Australia, there were many moments were words were exchanged and a little banter took place between Kohli and Tim Paine.