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Arthur reveals two-series strategy

Daniel Brettig

August 21, 2013

Comments: 59 | Text size: A | A

Rod Marsh, Michael Clarke and Darren Lehmann at a practice session, Old Trafford, Manchester, July 30, 2013
How much knowledge has Australia's hierarchy gained from the England tour? © Getty Images

Australia's former coach Mickey Arthur has revealed the tourists planned to inflict damage and gain intelligence on England in the away series before pushing hardest to regain the Ashes in the return bout at home. He also said the 3-0 scoreline would not have changed irrespective of selections because "that is what we've got at the moment".

While the new coach Darren Lehmann had stated before the series that his objective was simply to "win, win, win", there had been some suggestions that Cricket Australia would be content with a competitive showing in England, provided the home matches would reap a winning result. Arthur confirmed that he and the captain Michael Clarke had been talking in terms of using the first series to prepare for the second.

"We had a goal that I will reveal. We wanted to try to push England really hard in England, but we wanted to win in Australia, this is what Michael and I wanted to do," Arthur told ABC Radio. "We didn't go into the series ever to lose it, but we wanted to develop enough intelligence on all the England players, we had a lot but there was going to be some current stuff we could use.

"We were going to really push them close, give the players in our team the confidence to see that England could get beaten, and then go for them in Australia. That was how we wanted to go about our escapade there. You could have put anybody in [the team], the results were going to be the results because that is what we've got at the moment. That is the current crop of players. But as coaches it's such a good challenge because there's so much unfulfilled potential that you can make better."

Arthur was not the only senior CA figure pushing this view before the start of the series, and some players are understood to have been taken aback by the attitude when they assembled together in Bristol before the tour officially began. It remains to be seen whether the current leadership of Clarke and Lehmann have managed to glean enough from this series to help them at home.

Looking back on his time as coach, a period ended suddenly in England before the Ashes tour and then played out acrimoniously in a legal battle with CA over severance payments, Arthur said a 4-0 defeat in India and its associated disciplinary problems had been a major blow. For that he cited the BCCI's desire to avenge an identical series ledger in Australia in 2011-12, duly preparing pitches to suit the purpose.

"India was a really tough tour for us in so many ways. I've been privileged to tour India a couple of times and those were the worst conditions that I'd ever seen," Arthur said. "They hijacked us, and they clearly wanted revenge for the 4-0 series win we had got when they toured here the last time.

"One goes back to the Perth Test where the wicket was green and we played to our strengths and won the Test in two and a half days. They clearly wanted retribution for that and produced some of the toughest conditions I'd ever seen. They went out of their way to prepare those conditions and I can't argue with that."

Despite the circumstances of his departure, Arthur said he had been watching the Ashes series very closely. Too closely, perhaps, for members of his family, who had asked him why he could not let it go. "I've been watching every ball of the Ashes," he said. "My family has been saying 'let it go' and I can't. I've spent too much time with these boys trying to make them better cricketers, I've got to watch it.

"I am talking to the television. The funny thing as a coach is with a trained eye and knowing the psyche of all the players, I can sit and watch something developing and know what's going to happen an over later. I'm going 'don't do that again, keep hitting straight, they're trying to set you up for the lbw ... keep hitting straight, oh across the line, damn lbw again'."

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

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Posted by AltafPatel on (August 24, 2013, 14:36 GMT)

Arthur took the team to 4-0 in India this year. Lehman climb them to be upper at a stage in 4 out of 5 match in this Ashes. Would have they won the 2 close margin matches and they might be 2-1 up in the series. Whereas Arthur rotated the team series by series, this team seems to be stabilize now there by allowing players to get matured and experienced. Harris, Siddle playing less than few matches recently before Ashes produced the result, Haddin made re-selection right, Warner welcomed to have change of position at 6th to have refreshment, Rogers showed output after getting enough chance to get settled, Smith, and Lyon corrected the expectation. To sum-up them, this team has now got something that they needed to produce the result and they are working towards it.

Posted by Hammond on (August 24, 2013, 1:16 GMT)

Can't say that this has worked. 3-0 is hardly "pushed hard". England have won the series without half the side even firing. They didn't need to..

Posted by Moutarde on (August 23, 2013, 8:01 GMT)

If, in the return series, the Aussies can keep the score anything better than 3-0 to England, then they will have done well and surprised anyone who has seen a lot of both England and Australia over the last few years.

Posted by Cricket_theBestGame on (August 22, 2013, 22:58 GMT)

my question is what accountability CA (sutherland, howard etc) has shown for the mess since the infamous Argus review?

we blame arthur all we want but at the end of the day he wasn't acting alone. and such was said when sutherland admitted in media that he was being made scapegoat!

arthur should not come in media anymore. stay away for a while. but media will keep chasing him because thats how the news sell..the juicey inside stuff !

Posted by Ancient_Mariner on (August 22, 2013, 13:41 GMT)

That is not the Australian mentality. The Australian mentality is always to win every single match from any sort of situation.

Posted by ScottStevo on (August 22, 2013, 12:47 GMT)

@Rohit-Sen, that's categorically untrue. After the second test when England's spinners were trashing on India, the pitches were much friendlier for the seamers - where you will see J Anderson and co really started to take wickets. I don't blame India for preparing pitches, they can do whatever they like, but they certainly weren't anywhere near the same conditions for the series against England as they were for Australia. Not even close, as when Aus started failing against the spinners, the decks were worse and worse (worse from an Aus perspective, that is.) As for Arthur, he's said and done more than enough and should disappear with his payout into the darkness somewhere - somewhere far away from the Aus cricket team.

Posted by CricketChat on (August 22, 2013, 12:30 GMT)

Isn't there any confidentiality agreement between CA and Arthur? I don't think it is right for him to reveal all this inside information to public. Seems like he is trying to get back at CA for booting him midway on a tour.

Posted by hyclass on (August 22, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

Isn't this the same Arthur who stated publicly that he was,'unconcerned', by a 4-0 thrashing in India? The same Arthur who demonstrated appalling judgement by 'outing' his players in the media, over bizarre 'homework' requiring his players to judge each others performance, guaranteed to bring antipathy amongst them? The same Arthur who did it on a tour of India, no less, when a siege mentality needs to be adopted by touring sides in one of the worlds' toughest series and environments? The same Arthur who was so poor with WA? The same Arthur who parted company with SA acrimoniously? The same Arthur who publicly feuded with CA over remuneration, despite failing to meet any performance objectives? I opposed his appointment as coach based on character and result issues that information available to the public, proclaimed. I notice no-one from CA is accountable as usual. Surprised?

Posted by Rohit-Sen on (August 22, 2013, 9:10 GMT)

Arthur - India lost to England also 4-0... India also tried to give bad pitches to England and England trounced India. While I agree that the pitches were very spin friendly, it never meant that it was impossible to beat India.

Posted by Little_Aussie_Battler on (August 22, 2013, 8:50 GMT)

Mickey should just go away and keep quiet. This talk is from a man who is trying to salvage his shattered career. Make no bones about it, Arthur oversaw the most disastrous period for our national cricket team in it's entire glorious history.

What also must be said is too much is made of international cricket coaches. They are happy to take the credit when teams win but are blaming everything under the sun when things go pear shaped as we are hearing from Arthur still even now well after the time the bludger was run off.

All serious cricket watchers in Australia knew his appointment was odd. Australians invented test match cricket, we simply do not need outsiders telling us how to play cricket. Our people wrote the manuals others follow. Unfortunately the geniuses who brought us the Big Bash League in Cricket Australia were also responsible for his appointment.

Go away Arthur and hopefully your visa has been cancelled so we are done with you and your childish ploys.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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