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'Watson was one of the guys I lost' - Arthur

ESPNcricinfo staff

August 19, 2013

Comments: 40 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson and Mickey Arthur at a practice session before their match against New Zealand, Edgbaston, June 11, 2013
Mickey Arthur: "My relationships were outstanding, except with Watson" © Getty Images
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Mickey Arthur, who was sacked as Australia's coach just a fortnight before the Ashes began, has spoken out on how he "lost" Shane Watson and tried to mould the younger players who came with "big egos".

The cracks in his relationship with Watson, Arthur said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, first appeared on Australia's tour of India in February this year, which the visitors lost 0-4. The side's on-field problems were exacerbated when Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja were suspended for the third Test of the series for not completing a team-building assignment.

That incident, Arthur said, was a tipping point. "My relationships were outstanding, except with Watson. He was one of the guys I lost. India was where it started going wrong, when we suspended those players.

"If I sit back and think, 'Would I do it [suspend the players] again?' ... well, I probably would. Because I believed so much in what we were trying to do."

Arthur said he was disappointed how "people backtracked" after the players were suspended.

"I met with all our staff before I did it and our staff were adamant that was the right way to go. I ended up making those decisions and then ended up bearing the brunt of them," he said. "I just get annoyed because I put everything into it and I put my head on the line with a lot of big decisions and a lot of the people who were very keen for us to make those decisions then backtracked.''

He was forced to take a tough stance, he said, because the team lacked direction and leadership. "I understood that I drive the ship, but the ship needed conscious changes - it needed value changes. We put together this whole values document for all the young players coming into the Australian side. They got a booklet and we told them exactly what the expectations were, because the young guys coming in didn't know.

"They're good players, they're not great players. They're earning obscene amounts of money and they've got big egos, but they don't know the best way to go about it. So we put in these definite guidelines because we had no leaders there."

Despite the sour note on which his tenure ended, and his subsequent severance battle with Cricket Australia - which finished in an out-of-court settlement - Arthur said he was disappointed to see the team being thumped in the Ashes. "I couldn't imagine waking up and being 0-3 down in the Ashes now. But I don't get any pleasure out of watching them struggle."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by drinks.break on (August 21, 2013, 1:21 GMT)

@Green_and_Gold, you're assuming that the homework saga was the FIRST infringement of team discipline and expectations, when, as has been stated many times, it was the end of a long line of failures. There comes a point in any organisation when there have been enough warnings - when the expectations are patently clear, and when those who don't give a stuff really just need to be told to get stuffed.

That's exactly what Arthur did. I think it was the right call.

And the continued lack of discipline both on and off the field in the current Ashes series shows just how far gone the team was in India, and how drastic the situation had become ... but they've shot the messenger and replaced him with a "good bloke" who knows how to have fun, and - surprise, surprise - the results are no different.

Posted by ScottStevo on (August 20, 2013, 22:30 GMT)

@disco_bob, you do realise the3rd was a draw?

Posted by   on (August 20, 2013, 19:03 GMT)

feeling sorry for Arthur. he tried to keep big egos and differences in cricket Australia in check but failed. this cost him his job.india held to duncan even after 2 dismal away tours and result was 3home whitewash test series wins against nz2-0, wi 2-0, and Australia 4-0. then they won ct2013 , undefeated. two more series in Zimbabwe and triseries in wi. point is team is as good as young talent coming through the domestic competition rather than the coach.boof have little time to produce results before CA calls time and look for other options.

Posted by Green_and_Gold on (August 20, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

If he told that players that they would not be selected for the next match for not doing the homework then fair enough - thats communicating expectations and consequences. You cant make up punishments as you go along just because some people are not following your instructions. Each player should have had a fair hearing and be punished accordingly or even given the opportunity to make up for it. Preventing them for playing actually punished the 11 that took to the field as they missed some of the better players (making their job harder). It also punishes the fans who want to see the team perform. No wonder Watto lost trust and confidence in Arthur - I think there are a lot of issues that need addressing within the aus cricket management however Arthurs sacking (or rather Boofs introduction) was a step in the right direction.

Posted by cloudmess on (August 20, 2013, 11:45 GMT)

I feel sorry for Arthur and he's obviously very bitter over the whole thing. But one of the first requirements of a coach is to be able to think on your feet, adapt to different situations, and be able handle the difficult players. Arthur's approach - with his booklets, dos, don'ts and written assignments - puts me in mind of someone managing a training day for an office sales' team.

Posted by disco_bob on (August 20, 2013, 9:31 GMT)

@Jared Hansen on (August 20, 2013, 1:55 GMT) "... If we kept him England may have got their whitewash..." You do realise it's 3-0 at the moment?

Posted by DylanBrah on (August 20, 2013, 9:14 GMT)

Who cares Mickey? This is old news and we have moved on from you and looking to the future.

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (August 20, 2013, 8:13 GMT)

Mickey and Clarke were both poor leaders. The homework saga and punishment for small infractions was ridiculous while Warner's actions were going to be covered up were it not for Watson who stood up for what was right. Unlike Clarke who is just a yes man who cares more about his tats, his image, his batting avg and his favourites. You don't have to have perfect relationships with everyone just respect and treat the equally and you will earn their respect

Posted by scarab666 on (August 20, 2013, 7:58 GMT)

Mickey Arthur was robbed of bringing this team back into contention for the World No 1 position because he saw fit to change Australia's poor attitude and again it seems to boil down to the attitude of some players that is costing us the Ashes. Its not that this team doesn't have the batting ability to beat the Poms....its their playing attitude, which is where Mickey Arthur struggled to change. Watson has seriously been over rated his whole career and is one of the rotten apples in this side. Clarke is another rotten apple due to the fact he was earmarked from a very early age as the future aussie captain bringing about his massive ego like Watson. Australia's team has been in decline since Steve Waugh left and thats because he was our last genuine respected Captain.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2013, 7:49 GMT)

No Ms.Cricket Arthur was not the problem, egos and a disastrous structure in Aus cricket is the problem. Carry on blaming Mickey Arthur as usual. Cowardice to face ones own weaknesses will never allow Aus Cricket to get back to the top. The Aus style that they so pride themselves on required the individual to be independent and strong in self assessment and self correction. Those values seem to have disappeared into self indulgence and the blame game. it appears the iron men have gone and cricket is the poorer for it

Posted by   on (August 20, 2013, 7:27 GMT)

@ Ms Cricket - Stop blaming Arthur for the WHOLE debacle. There are many reasons why Australian cricket has had a dip and Arthur is definitely not the only reason. But he is a very convenient scapegoat.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2013, 7:18 GMT)

They're good players, they're not great players. Watson is the 2nd most experienced player after Clarke. I seriously believe apart from Clarke none of Aus batsman is good enough to get a test cap. In test match u need players who can play longer innings. player like watson/warner are good when u have someone like hussey in the middle, all the best aus for future...

Posted by __PK on (August 20, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

He would do it again? Thanks, Mickey, for vindicating CA's decision to pitch you.

Posted by dmat on (August 20, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

Ms Cricket - yes but this is the James Sutherland era (not Micky A). We are not rid of James yet and the healing wont begin until he's gone. It seems so few questions are asked of these professional administrators who lurch from one disaster to another with casualties everywhere except them!!! He is overpaid and has under performed.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2013, 6:59 GMT)

Very illuminating interview. It shows that Clarke is a pretty poor captain and as nice a fellow as he is, he has to be replaced if Australia are to improve. Being a great tactician is not even half of being a good captain, what matters most is the ability to instill and enforce proper values and discipline and this proves that "Clarke ain't it", something I've long suspected based on my 20 years as an officer in the army. There, a leader as poor as Clarke has to be replaced immediately as he otherwise will cost lives unnecessarily. Here, his deficiencies only loses you tests, so I guess CA will just pretend there's nothing wrong as usual.

Posted by CricketChat on (August 20, 2013, 5:06 GMT)

I think Arthur should move on from Aus association once they chose to let him go. They seemed to support him initially but then backed out when after a poor show in the CT.

Posted by bobagorof on (August 20, 2013, 2:56 GMT)

A 'team-building assignment'? That's what we're calling it now, when the coach asks each player to individually go away and think up how they can contribute more? It doesn't sound very 'team-y' to me. And the fact that some players have stated they didn't know it was mandatory, didn't know the deadline, and certainly didn't know that this particular instance was a drop-able offense when Warner's previous misdemeanors were overlooked speaks to a major problem of communication between the management and the players. I'm not surprised Watson was 'lost' in such an environment. And he was the Vice-Captain at the time!

Posted by   on (August 20, 2013, 2:55 GMT)

This article just goes further into showing how clueless Arthur was and still is. "I talked to a bunch of yes men and they told me it was a great idea, so surely it was the right decision." The fact that he thought this borderline arbitrary suspensions would somehow unite the team is a terrible indictment of his people skills. If we kept him England may have got their whitewash.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2013, 2:33 GMT)

When Ponting was captain it was obvious to me what a good relationship and friendship he had with Watson. What is wrong with these other guys? Ponting gave Clarke full support when Clarke took over. Did Clarke appreciate this? Note also the rifts Clarke has had with various Australian players over the years: Andrew Symonds, Katich, Michael Hussey, Watson. Michael Clarke is a great bat and a good on-field tachnician, but a bad off-field leader.

Jack Baker

Posted by Mad_Hamish on (August 20, 2013, 1:54 GMT)

I don't suppose that could have happened because he was banned for a match for what Arthurs despite (according to Arthur's comments at the time) having been perfectly professional in all his previous efforts?

Posted by Ms.Cricket on (August 20, 2013, 1:04 GMT)

The process of recovering from the Mickey Arthur era will take Australian cricket a lot of time. What a complete disaster he has been.

Posted by parkhacker on (August 20, 2013, 0:58 GMT)

Watson has to go. Too much of a destabalising influence, and no player should be bigger than the team.

Also - Mickey's comments about the 'old boys club' is very true. Does anyone else find it strange that Boof is constantly listening to the sky sports commentary during the games... Just so that he can hear what his mate Warnie is saying real time...

Posted by roadrunner440 on (August 20, 2013, 0:40 GMT)

Interesting to note the non leadership issue. The simple fact of the matter is Michael Clarke is not a leader of men. A good captain on the pitch, leads by example in terms of his performance and fair enough tactically. But when it comes to 'off the field' attitude, Clarke does have a chequered past (Katich, Hussey, Bingle).

It seems the inability to bring the team together as a unit off the field, coupled with the inability to shape the attitudes of the incoming 'young bucks', as evidenced by the calamity of the past 2 years, is what is really starting to hurt the team on the park. I'm in not blaming Clarke solely for this mess, but as a captain one must have the ability to rally his men to touch it out, the old pack hunting mentality of the old guard has evaporated.

With the mess state cricket is getting itself into, no obvious consistent senior pro as vice captain and no sparkling young talents on the horizon it seems the test format is in deep trouble. Very nice if you're a kiwi

Posted by disco_bob on (August 19, 2013, 23:57 GMT)

By Lehmann installing Watson as captain for the tour game is making a statement that shouldn't be made. Watto has gotto go. Unfortunately that ain't gonna happen so the next best manoeuvre would be for Clarkey to bowl him into the ground before we get to the Gabba.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (August 19, 2013, 23:43 GMT)

He gets annoyed because he was obviously not up for the job. All the other teams have big egos as well (*cough* Pietersen, Warne), how is this Australian team any different? Arthur dropped them because he felt helpless without any control, but he misunderstood that it's not the coach's job to control players, but to guide them. This misunderstanding meant it was always going to end in tears for Arthur. There's a lot of new, young players who are doubting themselves at this level and that's where having an ego can really help to keep that confidence up. It took McGrath a few series for him to feel like he belonged at this level and Warne always said he believed he was the best in the world. Sir Alex Ferguson once remarked that he didn't mind Ego's in his team. What's important is that the players go out there, enjoy themselves, back themselves, never doubt their ability and don't do anything differently that they did at shield level to get themselves there in the first place.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2013, 23:29 GMT)

Australia are having a dismal and joyless tour, yes. That's undeniable. But what can Lehmann do about this? Or indeed, what could Arthur do about it if he was still in charge? A poor team rarely beats a good team in any game, let alone in a 5-Test series. This does not mean that Australia should make kneejerk judgements about their coach yet. India stuck with Duncan Fletcher even after their horrible performances overseas, and now look - they won an ICC Champions Trophy and their Test form improved as players got extended runs in the team such that they won a Test series 4-0. This implies that it will take time for Lehmann's tenure to see tangible improvement, but when it happens, it will reap rewards. In fact - it was the same with England when Fletcher started with them: we lost a series against NZ, but gradually got up to No.2 and eventually regained the Ashes. Stick at it, Australia.

Posted by MinusZero on (August 19, 2013, 22:39 GMT)

Its unsurprising that Watson would have a big ego. He probably regards himself as being untouchable considering he does so little and still gets blindingly selected. Blame CA for that. How about selections based on form?...I know its a crazy idea, but it might work.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2013, 22:30 GMT)

Surely it's time for Shane Watson to go. It's hard to believe that he has had any measurable positive effect on the team's success in the last few years -- but that's merely an assessment on his playing, not his attitude towards the coaching staff and/or the captain, which most of us are not privy to. I hate to say this about such a talented player, it seems that it might be time to look beyond.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2013, 22:30 GMT)

Wonder if Darren - Boof has given you a call Mickey.....

Posted by dgcov on (August 19, 2013, 22:15 GMT)

Oh, for God's Sake!

If you treat people like children you shouldn't be surprised when they behave like children.

In fact I'm astonished that only 4 members of the India touring party had the guts to tell Mickey to go and take a running jump. And therein, in my view, lies the problem with the current Ashes squad. Not enough players with the backbone to stand up for themselves.

Posted by hhillbumper on (August 19, 2013, 22:02 GMT)

Shane watson should never play for Australia again.As an Englishman I love watching the damage he causes to Aussies hopes and unity.But having him in the team seems to cause more and more issues so why pick him? We keep being told how much depth there is in Australian cricket.Can you not find a player to replace him? He just isn't a test cricketer.Good at the shorter hit and giggle stuff but more suited to IPL. All flash and no substance.

Posted by HawK89 on (August 19, 2013, 21:56 GMT)

No one cares Micky. SA didn't want to keep you and neither do AU. If you think Watson has ego problems, then go try coaching India and see how long you last there.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2013, 21:27 GMT)

it all started when clarke was pushed to leadership role. Ricky is no Steve, when it comes to mentoring. Clarke had problems with guys who are differnt. Now arthur is made a scape goat. We should not forget the role of Arthur with SA group. Many present day SA greats started when Micky was coach. He coached first SA team to victory. He handled Gibbs, who is in the same mould as watson. There has to be some truth in these statements made by Arthur.

Posted by 2MikeGattings on (August 19, 2013, 21:16 GMT)

Homeworkgate was clearly a desperate fail the end of the road, rather than "where it started going wrong". The absence of leadership also reflects poorly on Clarke.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2013, 21:08 GMT)

Much asI applauded the sacking when it happened, I do sympathise with Arthur. Pattinson, Khawaja and Watson are still Australia's problem children. The only thing is, Arthur was not really punishing individuals but a system gone wrong. Any such knuckle-wrapping should probably go all the way down to Greg Chappell, who had so much to do with scrapping the second XI system in favour of an all-out youth policy.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (August 19, 2013, 21:01 GMT)

Ouch! Very revealing from Mickey! Mediocre players with big egos! This is hardly a revelation (as shown by Australia's gutless performances this summer) but interesting that Mickey now admits what we have all known for a long time.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2013, 19:58 GMT)

In asking the players to give written feedback in a manner he did Arthur became an old school marm He forgot he is dealing with individuals with high skills and strong minds and not a bunckh of schoolboys. It would have made better sense if he had got the team into a meeting with an point wise agenda to discuss a SWOT and jointly decide the way forward like any good manager would do. He didnt and he lost it and he deserves what he got

Posted by Rahulbose on (August 19, 2013, 19:45 GMT)

Man management is the main requirement for a coach at international level. Mickey failed miserably at that with the Aussie side. He should stop making it worse by refusing to take responsibility. Yes Clarke and others might have used him for their team politics, but whining about it now only makes it worse for him.

Posted by gamespplplay on (August 19, 2013, 19:30 GMT)

Aus sacked the wrong guy... pup is the one who should have gone.

Posted by WheresTheEmpire on (August 19, 2013, 19:24 GMT)

"The team lacked direction and leadership". Isn't that part of what a coach is supposed to provide? Putting together a values document is a pathetic substitute.

Thank god Lehmann is now in charge.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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