Friday, March 15, 2013

Homeworkgate; the teacher responds

Australia had its best day to date so far in its four test series in India yesterday; it rained, and play was abandoned without a ball being bowled! But in the meantime, Australia's South African coach Mickey Arthur has hinted at deeper problems within his squad. 

Arthur has blogged on the Cricket Australia website, and it's clear that Homeworkgate was just the straw that broke the coach's resolve; he opines:

To say the last couple of days have been challenging would be an understatement.
When we sat down as a leadership group and made these tough decisions I knew it would polarise public opinion, but internally I certainly know we’ve made the absolute right decision.
This is a line in the sand moment. A point we’ll look back on in a couple of years’ time when we’re back to number one in the world and say was a defining moment. The last week and a half since the end of the Hyderabad Test has been the toughest in my 11 years coaching.
The media reaction to this decision was like none I’ve seen in my coaching career and has certainly divided opinion.
Some people have commented it’s been one of the biggest stories in Australian cricket for a decade or more. Let’s be absolutely clear. The decision to suspend Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja for not adhering to a team request is the defining moment, but it has been a culmination of lots of small minor indiscretions that have built up to now.

It's pretty clear that Mickey Arthur's patience had become a finite commodity, and that the failure by Watson, Khawaja, Johnson and Pattinson to comply with a team deadline forced his hand; he continues:

Some people may ask why it was left to get to this point, such an ‘extreme measure’. We have given lots of latitude and flexibility with a young and inexperienced squad. We know it’s going to take time for them to grow and mature, but there is only so long the leadership group can hold their hand. This decision was about sending a strong message that it is about time all players had some accountability for their actions. Being late for a meeting, high skinfolds, wearing the wrong attire, back-chat or giving attitude are just some examples of these behavioural issues that have been addressed discretely but continue to happen. If we’re deadly serious about getting back to number one in the world, all players need to raise the bar and lift their game. If not, we must be content at being number three or four or five in world cricket because we won’t get any better. The players won’t learn and we’ll continue a vicious cycle.
It is a strong message to everyone in Australian cricket that if you want to play for the Australian Cricket Team, then we demand excellence and corner-cutting, taking short-cuts or arriving with a bad attitude will no longer be tolerated. 

Mickey Arthur is a tough old rooster. He's been around international cricket for a while, and has earned a reputation as a no-nonsense operator. The Australian players dropped this week have pushed the boundaries in a variety of subtle and none-too-subtle ways, but they have been caught out.

We have no problem with Mickey Arthur and Michael Clarke drawing a line in the sand. If that's what needs to happen to make the Australian cricket team great again, then that's what has to happen. Team management sets the agenda, not a group of highly-paid and sometimes highly-strung players.

1 comment:

woolshedwargamer said...

So there is New Zealand's problem. Not enough homework.