Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI, Adelaide January 13, 2013

Arthur attacks critics of rotation


Australia's coach Mickey Arthur has rounded on critics of the national team's management of fast bowlers, taking particularly sharp aim at the contention that the selection panel is letting sports science make its decisions regarding who to choose.

In a prolonged rebuttal of public and media views that there is confusion if not chaos around Australian team selection, Arthur revealed that a major factor behind Mitchell Starc's withdrawal from the Boxing Day Test team was to avoid the flaring of a long-term ankle problem that will eventually require surgery and an extended lay-off from the game.

He also confirmed that Michael Clarke, Matthew Wade and David Warner would return to the ODI team for the second phase of matches in Brisbane and Sydney on Friday and Sunday, and clarified that Usman Khawaja was dropped for Steve Smith under a pre-defined plan to give each batsman one game. Australia have been widely criticised by former players and sections of the public for fielding a "B-team" in the first two matches of the series, but Arthur went to considerable lengths to explain the intricacies of selection.

"We're very clear on who the best team is and who the best attack is," Arthur said following Australia's defeat in the second ODI in Adelaide. "I've been really annoyed and frustrated by some of the articles that have been going around. For me it's common sense. Common sense prevails when we pick teams. We certainly don't pick teams not to win any cricket games for Australia. Every time we pick a team we're giving guys opportunities and picking what we think is the best side possible to go out and do the job and win.

"It's either very naive or just a little bit stubborn that people don't understand what we're doing. The example I've used is Black Caviar. When he runs a horse race, if they don't feel he's 100% right they don't release him. We've done that with our bowlers, and over the year we've had three examples of quick bowlers basically rested, and that is all.

"Ryan Harris in the West Indies, Mitchell Starc on Boxing Day and Peter Siddle at Perth. That's the only time we have rested quick bowlers, and we've done that simply because we think they're at risk. We want to play our guys all the time. With the amount of cricket we play these day's it is impossible to keep the guys on the park in every single game. So we would not have a quick bowler at risk."

Starc's absence from the Boxing Day Test team was a particular sore point, Starc himself stating his frustration at not being allowed to follow-up his match-clinching five wickets on the final day of the Hobart Test by playing on the biggest day of the Australian cricket calendar. But Arthur made it clear that there were more factors at play than a simple question of Starc's workload.

"If you take Mitchell Starc over the Boxing Day Test match, the information we'd got was that he was at risk. Then it's up to us," Arthur said. "The constant thought that sports scientists are picking the team is so far off the mark that it's frightening. They give us information, the information is then left up to us to make that decision. Michael, myself and the selector on duty make the decision based on the information we're given. When we get that information we will see if it holds up and if we think it's not worth the risk.

"Mitchell Starc plays three forms of the game. He had an ankle impingement, he's got spurs that are going to require an operation at some stage. We're hoping that will be a year down the line, but at some stage that is going to give in. There was no point in us playing him in a Boxing Day Test match and risk losing him for the one-day series and then for a tour of India. That would've been plain stupid."

Australia are facing one of the most demanding schedules ever set before an international team in 2013, with a four-Test tour of India to be followed by the Champions Trophy and then 10 consecutive Ashes Test matches in England and Australia. Arthur said the decisions made to withdraw fast bowlers or other players from the firing line for set periods reflected the calendar ahead.

"The constant thought that sports scientists are picking the team is so far off the mark that it's frightening. They give us information, the information is then left up to us to make that decision."
Mickey Arthur

"Whenever we make those decisions, we make those decisions with a lot of thought into how we're going to use our quick bowler and when we're going to use him," Arthur said. "I really want to get that out and put that on record, because I'm sick and tired of talking about it, and I'm certainly sick and tired of seeing some of the articles that are going around in the media at the moment."

A hamstring strain to Brad Haddin, meanwhile, has simplified the circumstances of Wade's return to the squad as the national selectors prepare to strengthen their team for the next brace of matches in Brisbane and Sydney. That injury may now cause the selectors something of a headache should they still want to take Haddin on the India Test tour in early February. But for now it will allow Wade to return swiftly and smoothly to the ODI squad alongside other members of the Test team that were given a week's rest following their exertions against South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roo on January 16, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    Have to completely agree with Arthur - seems the armchair trolls know nothing as usual... Harris In WI lost 5 kgs in weight in the previous Test & was carrying an illness during that match... Starc had a hot spot in his ankle... Siddle was burnt out - he looked exhausted in the 1st innings in Adelaide & by the end of the 2nd was bowling on auto-pilot; just the selectors got it wrong by picking Hastings above a number of better performing Shield bowlers...

  • Roo on January 16, 2013, 3:52 GMT

    @Jono Makim :- "Starc, he is obviously carrying an injury to his ankle"...

    Actually they are spurs growing in his ankle & depending on their location they may impact tendons & ligaments when removed - post surgery recovery is possibly 6+ mths with the medical staff just calling it a long lay-off from cricket... ATM Starc is looking to delay that to after the next Oz summer (which finishes earlier) & be ready for the 2015 WC... Having surgery after this summer may impact on his early availability for the next Oz summer & forget about the Ashes...

  • Christopher on January 15, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    @Meety...jumbled planning is an inevitability of the arrival of T20 as an additional legitimised format. The privately run comps along with the WC remove whatever space existed for respite from cricket. My observations on SL were with regard to public statements about the composition of the ODI side by the coach and selectors regarding distant future agendas. I suspect not too many international sides would enjoy being told they are only worthy of experimental sides as opposition.

  • Andrew on January 15, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    @hyclass on (January 14 2013, 11:47 AM GMT) - sorry when you said "... It's a long time since Ive seen less respectful and more dismissive behaviour towards a visiting team in SL..." - I have taken it (in light of other comments of yours) as a comment against the scheduling for SL, this maybe due to ygkd agreeing with you in terms of tour itinery. @ygkd on (January 15 2013, 06:46 AM GMT) - I would say that your pecking order is fairly much correct, although I would say Sth Africa have some clout too (4th?). That all being said, re: Boxing Day - Sth Africa have not played a Boxing Day Test in quite a while, instead have scheduled T20s & Sri Lanka hosted NZ, so IMO, the Oz Board cannot be held responsible in this case. Given that there are all sorts of problems in SL cricket at Board level, I would back them to be the cause of poor tour planning.

  • Christopher on January 15, 2013, 8:12 GMT

    @Meety...I dont see anything in your comments that pertains to anything that I've written.You must be thinking of someone else.The international schedules are a melange of international requirements. The schedules cannot be perfect given the volumes of cricket and SL as you rightly point out have just finished a series vs NZ which is a reasonable entree to cricket in Australia.I dont see any flaw in the schedule other than CA choosing the entirely inappropriate placement of BBL at a time when Shield was far more valuable.

  • Philip on January 15, 2013, 6:46 GMT

    @Meety - I'd like to agree with you but I believe there are three major players amongst international cricket boards - the BCCI, the ECB and CA. I don't think SLC get that much of a look in, although obviously they must take responsibility for such poor preparation. Even CSA has to juggle at times with CA over home Boxing Day tests because the attendance figures in Melbourne are so much better than those at Durban or Centurion. Furthermore, when SL lost to India in the ODI WC final, where were they playing? It wasn't in Columbo, that's for sure! So, yes it takes two to tango, but usually one leads and the other has to follow.

  • Phil on January 15, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    Khawaja must feel like that driftwood trying to make the shore (team). The selectors didn't help him keeping him in cotton wool while they decided if Clarke's hammy was okay over Xmas/New Year. Khawaja could have been playing a game somewhere keeping himself in touch with his batting.The 'nearly' men - Trimble, Potter, Siddons, Cox are perhaps the three standouts. Great Sheffield Shield men who missed the final step of test selection. At least Khawaja & Hodge & even Law, can say they played a test match but seriously its time to cut the guy a break and give him a good run in India for the comign series.

  • Andrew on January 15, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    @Jono Makim - fair enuff. Maybe I am looking for stuff that is not there!

  • Andrew on January 15, 2013, 3:54 GMT

    @Andross on (January 14 2013, 13:37 PM GMT) - interesting theory re: Ice baths. I think the key to whether you are onto something or not, is work out why it works for other sports & NOT cricket. I s'pose in say the NRL, there is a lot more bruising, so the ice reduces the bleeding. Where as cricket is a bit more repititive? Dunno, but that would be interesting to see how that idea plays out!

  • Andrew on January 15, 2013, 3:49 GMT

    @ ygkd/ hyclass - I am sorry but I don't agree with you guys regarding Sri Lanka. Yes, teams have fallen into the trap (bar England), of trying to be like Oz during the late 90s & early 200s where they just rode into town on minimal trial practise & go straight into tests, but how is that any fault of Cric Oz regarding SL? They held a series v NZ just prior to the tour of Oz, there was no room for trials, it would of been better if they played their tour game at Hobart, but given Belreive required a lot of remedial work to get up to standard, that was a no-go. Sth Africa played one tour match, (by choice), & had to play in Sydney before going to the Gabba. Tour itineries are approved between TWO boards! Oz may have more pull then some countries, but honestly I don't believe Cric Oz were at fault in this instance!