Australia's troubled tour March 11, 2013

'It's not just about one incident' - Clarke

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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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on March 13, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    No news about the Indian Team and their preparations....are they even gonna play this test match or they are all on a vacation?? Strange!!!

  • ABP235 on March 12, 2013, 17:33 GMT

    Attitude and Discipline are more important, and come much ahead of Performance. With the words Watto using, I am plainly surprised that this guy has been the product of Australian sports upbringing. Aussies are always tough when it comes to their cricket, they may appear arrogant at times, but have always been a disciplined lot. So obviously this attitude is not acceptable. One has to also see if guys like Khwaja, Johnson and Pattinson have any brains to bring 3 ideas to the table first of all - but knowing Watto's abilities, he could easily bring 6 if not 3. Wish Mickey had called me! Would have given him 48 ideas for 16 players - I am not joking! Clarke has to think like that Allan Border of the 1980s. Rewrite the Aussie cricket fortunes from a much cleaner slate. He needs support from CA to do this, he may miss a star bowler like Pattin, but thats the way it is. Watto has shown a great decline in batting and he cant bowl these days - dont know if some of this is deliberate.

  • whoster on March 12, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    "It's not just about one incident."

    Well, according to the apologetic James Pattinson, it was about one incident in his case.

  • dummy4fb on March 12, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    A good captain is tested in bad times ! How well MS Dhoni handled the 8 failures in a row and how bad did Clarke. Can't remember the name of any other captain who ever said that 'I am the main culprit because i am the captain of the side' which he had said in Australia after the 8th successive overseas test match loses. HATS OFF !

  • Cricket316 on March 12, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    Leadership demands "Believing in your players,Knowing your players well and discussing whats wrong and then trying to overcome those the problems". Thats the difference between MSD,Smith, Cook & well Clarke. These Captains have managed to get the "Best Cricket out of their players". The players might not perform everytime.

    Thats why the Selection becomes so crucial.You have to Pick the right Squad,then get the best out of your players by making them improving their Skills.Motivating and backing up your players is always important.Thats how a Player will give his best.You dont "Beat the Performance out of your players". Ozs picked the Wrong Squad in the 1st place and then they cant get them to perform and then the players have to be Axed Unceremoniously. Having a Captain having alot of Ego isnt helping.He's only thinking of his success as a Captain. The desperation of a Win,has led to this Carnage.

  • disco_bob on March 12, 2013, 15:22 GMT

    The ECB were seen by many including myself as being unnecessarily harsh on KP, but I suppose their actions were vindicated by his performance and contribution to their history 2-1 victory.

  • stumpedlloyd on March 12, 2013, 14:54 GMT

    Oh, can you imagine the on-field teasing that is going to take place during the Ashes? I can see I can picture Swann and Prior asking the Aussie batsmen whether they've done their homework assignments when they come out to bat.

  • LoveCric1975 on March 12, 2013, 14:50 GMT

    Does taking the mickey Arthur wants his players to guide him in his job, the guy is a mess he thinks he is bigger than the game, he needs to get under andy flowers wings to understand player management imagine flower sacking kp trott bell and Anderson for not submitting an essay telling him how to do his own job. Extremely annoyed with mr mickey art hurt and equally with Clarke. Can Acb please remove this poor coach or andt flower and his English side will annihilate the Aussies

  • dummy4fb on March 12, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    I appreciate the CA's decision in taking steps to curb indiscipline. Years back when Kapil played an indiscreet shot in a Test match, he was banned for the next Test match. My question is, is the present Indian Cricket Board also capable of taking tough decisions?

  • rgunda on March 12, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    Mate, You have done the right thing! the team is not performing and you got to manitain discipline in the team. If Watto cannot blend in to the team spirit you are better off without him. Good luck!