Sport » Cricket

Updated: March 11, 2013 23:34 IST

Aussies send four back to the pavilion

Vijay Lokapally
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Australian cricketers who were sacked on Monday (clockwise from top) James Pattinson, Usman Khwaja, Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson.
The Hindu/AP
Australian cricketers who were sacked on Monday (clockwise from top) James Pattinson, Usman Khwaja, Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson.

In a desperate attempt to enforce discipline, the Australian cricket team management stunningly ruled four cricketers out of contention for the third Test of the series against India starting here on Thursday.

Vice-captain Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson were punished for not submitting their presentations to the team management following the innings defeat at Hyderabad in the second Test.

Coach Micky Arthur, manager Gavin Dovey and skipper Michael Clarke comprised the committee that took the debatable decision. Arthur maintained a determined countenance as he explained the philosophy behind the action ahead of a crucial match.

Khawaja and Johnson, both in the reserves thus far, were in line for selection but would now have to wait for the last Test to earn a slot in the playing eleven. For Pattinson, one of the few performers in the series thus far, the decision must have been shattering.

Scathing criticism

Watson later flew home to be by the side of his wife, who is expecting, even as Brad Haddin left for India as a cover for injured wicketkeeper Mathew Wade. The team management’s far-reaching act, however, came in for a scathing criticism by some former stars on the mode of punishment.

Australian great Allan Border was livid, “I’m surprised that’s the penalty for something so mundane. It seems like it was on a schoolboy tour or something. It’s an over-the-top reaction.”

Compatriot Dean Jones felt “implications from these actions are serious. I feel it is deeper than it appears. Australia are in trouble!”.

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan remarked: “What is going on with Aussie cricket? Didn’t realise you had to do an essay to get a selection these days.”

Captain’s views

Captain Clarke later told a website, “We were asked to do one thing from the head coach. It was giving information about not only improving your game — what you've learnt from the first two Test matches — but also how can you help this team turn things around and have success.

“We can't accept mediocrity here. This is the Australian cricket team. Maybe, I am biased [but] there is a big difference between this team and other cricket teams. If you play for Australia there is a lot that comes with that and standards, discipline, culture and that is all a big part of what we are talking about here. In my opinion, for the four players to not do it, not only does it let the team down, it also shows a lack of respect for the head coach and in the Australian cricket team that is unacceptable.”

The development was in keeping with the Australian image of paying importance to the team’s interest and not encouraging star culture. It did not deter Arthur from acting despite Australia suffering ignominious defeats in the first two Tests in Chennai and Hyderabad.

Tough day

“It’s been a tough day,” said Arthur. “At the end of the (last) Test match we discussed the way forward, discussed how to get ourselves back into the series and I had asked all the players to give their presentations to me on how they can contribute for us to get back into the series. Unfortunately, four guys did not send me their reports and hence the management team made the decision that they are not available for selection for this Test match.”

Dwelling on the issue, the Australian coach explained, “It is pertinent for me to say that we have given this group every opportunity to conform, create the attitude that we want from an Australian cricket team.

“Suffice to say that this team did not meet the standards that we had set ourselves and some stringent goals to be the number one in the world needed to be taken.

“That comes with an attitude, a culture and a behaviour pattern that goes with the best in the world. We needed to change the attitude and the behaviour.”

All are upset

The four players, according to Arthur, were all “gutted as I am; all are very upset. They realise they had done a wrong thing.

“It was tough taking such decisions but it was needed to bring a change in the attitude and culture. If you want to play for Australia you can’t cut corners. You have to be performing to the best of your abilities all the time, on and off the field.”

“The sanction is only for this match,” Arthur informed.


Looking ahead, Arthur observed, “We are playing an Indian team which is at its best; very formidable in its own backyard.

“I would be disappointed if we came to India and India did not create such conditions for us.

“Coming to the sub-continent was a real cricketing challenge for a lot of our players and they have found out how hard it can get; likewise, when India goes to Australia.

“The key is to learn to win away from home. That’s what makes you better.”

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It is a matter of discipline. The 4 players were indisciplined (and as Clarke has clarified, it was not this isolated instance of them ignoring the call for 3-point feedback, but an accumulation of indiscipline) and have therefore been punished.
It does not matter if you are the cat's whiskers as a cricket player - you have to remember that Cricket is a team game, and you have to be disciplined to maintain team spirit. If not, you get expelled. Simple rule - Watson et al are finding that out the hard way and they have only themselves to blame.
The so-called 'scathing' criticism of the captain and coach's decision is coming from people who have a stake in the coach's job and would therefore like to see Arthur let's not take their 'criticism' with anything more than a large pinch of salt.

from:  Rajeev Iyer
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 09:25 IST

I think the BCCI should learn from this..

from:  Ajay
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 08:57 IST

I do not understand why players were expected to present the points of failure or progress. It is the primary job of coach, not the players. If coach is expecting that from players then for what sake he is paid? why he is given this kind of power within the team? Media should investigate more on this aspect and present more information on this.
Similar things happen in the corpoate world too. A manager very easily shrugs off his responsilbility by saying he did not have proper visibility over the function of his/her sub-ordinates. But why do not they realise it is their responsibility to ensure they have proper visibility of how his/her team functions.

from:  vijayanand m v
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 17:58 IST

England took discipline seriously under Flower and now Aussie under
Arthur. Professional sport is not when a bunch of talented players come
together, like Arthur says discipline should be defined in the cultural
DNA of the team through a clearly set vision. I am not sure if we have
any such thing for our Indian Teams (Across Sports) including cricket.

from:  LJD PAUL
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 17:10 IST

Not very sure what the team management is up to. This could be bad for
the team.

from:  priyadarshan
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 16:38 IST

Good to see the aussies take serious steps on the offenders even when
the team is on the verge of loosing the series.It shows only the
deserved players should earn the baggy green.Salute the aussies for the
new era!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 16:29 IST

As if the disastrous display on the field was not enough the Aussie team management has further dampened its prospects in the remaining tests by suspending four players for the third test on grounds of indiscipline not on the ground but off it. The suspension is akin to punishing schoolboys for not doing their homework. Whither Aussie cricket?

from:  C V ARAVIND
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 16:20 IST

Sydney Morning Herald gives a different version as to what these
players were asked to present. Whatever it is, the coach, the captain and the management may have gone too far. Wait and see how the Australian Public would react to this. This could very well be the final straw for some! I am not sure a Border a Waugh or a Ponting would have meted out such a harsh treatment to his fellow Team members, for such a trivial aberration.
After all, you travel as a close knit unit, sharing the highs and lows together. What kind of atmosphere the captain and the coach expect to cultivate in the dressing room? By this act, have they boosted the morale of the other players? It is also time for appraisal of the 'overall' contributions of the captain and the coach. Saner heads should have prevailed. For CA to simply toe the line is fraught with danger of destablization!

from:  Arthar
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 16:18 IST

Dropping some of key players at the time when Australian side requires them the most...forcing me to guess the actual discipline standards Australia Cricket imposes over,hope some part of it is also absorbed by other teams in the world which are on a slower side of discipline..making it a sport rather than a business trump..!!

from:  Piyush
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 16:00 IST

Can we expect similar action over discipline from BCCI? Never.. Never..

Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 15:47 IST

Discipline outside the criket ground ??? Presentation to outline what went wrong inside the cricket ground ??? Alien words in the world of cricket or new revolution in the sport....Eager to see them in Indian criket too.

from:  deepak
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 14:37 IST
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