'It's not just about one incident' - Clarke
Michael Clarke has stressed that the dramatic axing of four players including the vice-captain Shane Watson for the third Test in Mohali was due to a continued failure of some players to meet the standards set by the team. Watson flew home after being told he and three other players would not be considered for the match and is considering his Test future, although his departure was also largely spurred by the fact that his wife Lee Furlong is due to give birth soon.
Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja failed to comply with an order from the coach Mickey Arthur to provide feedback on where they and the team could improve after the embarrassing loss in Hyderabad. But Clarke said the decision, made by Arthur, Clarke and the team manager Gavin Dovey, was an example to players that no longer would they get away with cutting corners.
"No doubt it's been a tough day," Clarke said late on Monday. "I want the public and the media to understand, don't get me wrong, it's not just about one incident. Firstly on this tour our performances have been unacceptable and there has been some stuff off the field [that has been unacceptable] for the standards an Australian cricket team needs to present itself to achieve what we are trying to achieve ... I know it is a tough day, a really tough day and it's a tough decision, but at the end of the day if people are not hitting those standards there are going to be consequences.
"Our head coach gave us two days off after the second Test, it was about freshening yourself up, get your rehab [done], your recovery, do what you have to do, get everything right for the next two Test matches, because the next two Test matches are as big as you might have in your career and you have an opportunity to turn this series around.
"We were asked to do one thing from the head coach. It was giving information back to the head coach 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.
"It was a very simple task. Yes, it took a lot of thinking because you had to look at your game and where you thought you could improve, what you had learnt and what you could do to help this team level this series. 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."
While Clarke did not elaborate on what other standards had not been met, Arthur earlier in the day said that some players had failed to fill in the daily wellness forms required to allow the sports science and medical staff to monitor their health. Clarke said an accumulation of minor infractions - regardless of the players involved - had led to a decision that an example had to be made.
"There have been a number of issues on this tour where I don't think we have been hitting our standards," Clarke said. "We have not done what is required for this Australian cricket team to have the success we want it to have. It's no coincidence we have lost the first two Test matches quite convincingly so we have to turn that around, we have to lift our standards.
"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 that is all a big part of what we are talking about here."
Pattinson, Khawaja and Johnson will be available for the Delhi Test but given Watson's comments about considering his future he appears unlikely to rejoin the tour. No decision has been made on who will stand in as vice-captain in his absence.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here