Australia's troubled tour March 13, 2013

Arthur outlines 'minor indiscretions that built up'


Mickey Arthur, the coach of Australia, has outlined some of the discipline issues that had built up over the course of the tour of India, including late attendance for team meetings, back-chat and high skinfolds (tests to estimate body fat). These were among the infractions from the wider squad that led to four players being stood down for the third Test in Mohali due to their failure to complete a task in which Arthur asked every player to give ideas for individual and team improvement.

When Arthur made the announcement on Monday that Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson would not be part of the third Test due to neglecting the task, he alluded to a build-up of other behavioural issues but did not go into details. However, on the eve of the Mohali Test, Arthur has confirmed what some of the problems were, which were not specific to the four players suspended.

"It has been a culmination of lots of minor indiscretions that have built up to now," Arthur wrote in his Cricket Australia blog. "Some people may ask why it was left to get to this point, such an 'extreme measure'. We have given lots of latitude and flexibility with a young and inexperienced squad. We know it's going to take time for them to grow and mature, but there is only so long the leadership group can hold their hand.

"This decision was about sending out a strong message that it is about time all players had some accountability for their actions. Being late for a meeting, high skinfolds, wearing the wrong attire, back-chat or giving attitude are just some examples of these behavioural issues that have been addressed discretely but continue to happen. If we're deadly serious about getting back to number one in the world, all players need to raise the bar and lift their game.

"If not, we must be content at being number three or four or five in world cricket because we won't get any better. The players won't learn and we'll continue a vicious cycle. It is a strong message to everyone in Australian cricket that if you want to play for the Australian cricket team, then we demand excellence, and corner-cutting, taking short-cuts or arriving with a bad attitude will no longer be tolerated."

Arthur, the captain Michael Clarke and the team manager Gavin Dovey were collectively responsible for the decision to leave the four players out of the third Test, which could leave Australia with as few as 12 men available for the game, which starts on Thursday. Cricket Australia's chairman, Wally Edwards, said the board was "completely supportive" of the decision taken by the Australian team management, although it has created plenty of debate from the cricket public.

"When we sat down as a leadership group and made these tough decisions I knew it would polarise public opinion, but internally I certainly know we've made the absolute right decision," Arthur said. "The last week and a half since the end of the Hyderabad Test has been the toughest in my 11 years of coaching."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 16, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    All of the guys selected in this touring squad were previously motivated, professional and have excelled in their chosen sport. Not many make it in to the Australian cricket team without having worked hard and sacrificed much for many years.

    And then they're accused of having bad attitude and not meeting their commitments to the team and themselves.

    Mickey Arthur, Pat Howard and all the other blow-ins are ruining Australian cricket. It's clear the players don't respect them. Get them out of the dressing room before we're the laughing stock of the cricket world. Oh, wait, we already are.

    Mickey's best hope for The Ashes is a wet English summer.

  • Rue on March 16, 2013, 7:31 GMT

    Does anyone question the lack of professionalism displayed by these four players? Is it really to much to ask for them to turn up to practice or team meetings on time, or even to wear the correct team clothes when asked. I could not I imagine a football manager like Alex Ferguson allowing his over paid egocentric players to get away with that lack of professionalism and poor attitude. He drops plates for matches and if they still don't shape up then they are moved on. Why are cricketers so special? I'm also tired of hearing about all the ex Aussie players saying it wouldn't happen in their day. No it wouldn't because they played in a team that was blessed with all time great players and won constantly. This bunch have just been handed one of the biggest defeats in the country's history

  • Neil on March 14, 2013, 21:37 GMT

    Do we specifically know these players had all those indiscretions? I also feel that management has been a joke as well. It is a bit hard to put extra effort in when there is such a joke in place in regard to Australian management (eg weasel words, player rotation, not abiding by the Argus review, inconsistent language and approaches, the list goes on). If you are going to sack players, do it after something else rather than useless homework (is there a lack of forceful captaincy and ability to be innovative and clear in thinking here?) as the final catalyst; otherwise, if sacking players, sack inept management as well.

  • Muz on March 14, 2013, 19:38 GMT

    The issue here is that many are reluctant to give the benefit of the doubt to someone with performance issues similar to at a common workplace. Mickey Arthur is the one with performance issues, Michael Clarke is the one with management issues and favoritism allegations. For them to then give vague explanations of things that happened several moons ago that nobody can attest to, is shady at the least.

  • Michael on March 14, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    It's interesting that the featured comment is one that backs up the view of Coverdale in spite of the majority of comments here criticising the decision and management of the team and many of them making valid points.

    If there is going to be a 'featured comment' feature, then can it please be objective and contain various viewpoints rather than only one that agrees with the article?

  • chris on March 14, 2013, 17:19 GMT

    I guess we would have never seen much of Shane Warne playing for Australia with the skin fold test and the talking back ? It just sounds even more like Arthur backtracking to justify the stupid decision. Firstly this should have been nipped in the bud straight away to gain respect from the team . (obviously Arthur has not got that respect) . Secondly it should never been released to the media , kept internal . Thirdly you hit the players in the hip pocket by fining them heavily firstly, then if behaviour does not improve have their contract docked a % of its value, and then lastly suspension from the team. I believe this would have been the best approach, but I doubt that would have helped. as Arthur would have conjured some other trivial excuse to reprimand them .

  • Dummy4 on March 14, 2013, 16:53 GMT

    Can't understnad if its punishment for those that haven't been given a chance to perform... or reward for those that are consistently getting chances, but nothing to show for them!!!! There are 100s of ways to punish, without rewarding under-performing players with another test...

  • Michael on March 14, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    @landl47 let me ask you this. If the coach allows 'minor indiscretions' to build up, (some of which aren't at all serious) then I submit that he has failed in his responsibility to take the players aside individually and give them a quiet word of encouragement and let them know in no uncertain terms what is expected of them, to instill confidence in them, and treat them as professional sportsmen. Arthur has probably kept his distance and not done that, only issuing orders and expecting everyone to conform, when he should realise that everyone in the team is different and require different man management styles to get the best out of them.

  • Mashuq on March 14, 2013, 13:15 GMT

    @ansram on (March 13, 2013, 12:59 GMT) You're 100% right - it's about losing and Clarke as someone who has done his individual part to gain success cannot tolerate the fall out from losing! Get used to it Pup - you're just ensuring being the captain of a losing outfit if you continue to pick yesmen who can't think outside of the box!

  • disco on March 14, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    "... high skinfolds..." gimme a break, that is absurd. Put a mars bar on a good length!