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Australia in India 2012-13

A lesson for the Australian cricketer

Yes, the punishment was harsh, but it is time Australia's players took some responsibility

Brydon Coverdale

March 11, 2013

Comments: 192 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke has some fun with the crowd, India v Australia, 1st Test, Chennai, 2nd day, February 23, 2013
Australia's "crisis point" could turn them towards the right direction © BCCI
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Put yourself in the position of an Australian cricketer. You have just been part of an embarrassing loss. Humiliating. The tenth-biggest defeat in Australian cricket history. You are gutted, the fans are disgusted. On-field, the judgement shown by players has been poor. Poor shot selection, poor bowling, a poor attitude. The match finishes inside three and a half days. Nobody is happy. Plans have been made and have failed, or have just not been followed.

On the night the match ends, the coach tells you and every other player to go away and think about why things have gone wrong. To consider where you and the team have failed on this tour. To use your own brain instead of having someone else think for you. He asks you to come up with three ideas for how you and the squad can improve. It doesn't matter if you played the first two Tests or not. It doesn't matter if you've made a hundred or taken a five-for. This is about more than just you.

He gives you four days to come back to him. You don't have to write an essay. Bullet points would do. Everyone can manage three bullet points. Or go see the coach and talk through your thoughts in person. Meanwhile, you train on what should have been day five of the Test and travel the next day. You have hours of downtime in airport lounges and on planes. Maybe you listen to music, maybe you watch some movies. Do you think about that embarrassing loss? Do you think about how to improve? The fans are thinking about it. So are the coaches. Are you?

Then you have two days off in Chandigarh. The coach wants you to freshen up. That means no training, it doesn't mean no thinking. That has been made clear to you. Maybe you play golf, maybe you go to the zoo, maybe you take a little trip out of town. Maybe Saturday night comes around and you haven't got back to the coach. But guess what, 12 of your team-mates have. They've been thinking about how the group can improve. Have you?

Perhaps you have no ideas. Then why not come to the coach and tell him that? You're back at training on Sunday. If you haven't been thinking about cricket over the past few days, you damn well should be now. Maybe you just forgot. But if you forgot, how switched on are you? This is the only thing you've had to do and you haven't done it. Where is your head at? Not in the space it needs to be in to play a Test, clearly.

The captain spent his time off making the long trip to the Taj Mahal. You're on good money but he is earning enormous seven-figure amounts. He's also the only batsman who has looked much good on this trip. He's scored a quarter of the team's runs. Like everyone else, he was asked by the coach to complete this one task, even though he has been carrying you. He has done it. Why haven't you?

 
 
Mark Waugh says this is not schoolboy stuff. It's not Under-6s, he says. That's right, you're a grown man with your own brain and you get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, at least, to play this game. You're a professional. So why haven't you acted like one?
 

Monday morning rolls around. The next Test is now only 72 hours away. You've been given a day's grace but have still not done what was asked. Think you're exempt? Think the coach will let it go? He's always smiling, he must be a pushover. After all, other lapses have been allowed to slide on this trip, hell, even before it. They might have been yours, they might not. But within the team there have been lapses. That's the problem. This is the final straw, and you've dropped it on top of the others.

You're out of the team. You won't be considered for the next Test. Nor will three others who failed to complete this one small request. In other weeks, perhaps other players might also have neglected such a task. But this was an embarrassing week for Australian cricket and you couldn't slack off. You've let your team-mates down. Is it a harsh punishment? Definitely. But will you learn from this mistake? You'd better believe it. If you don't, you never will. And then what good are you to the Australian team?

This, the coach said, was the buy-in moment. The time when every player had to commit to the team's methodical philosophy. To the aim of regaining the No. 1 Test ranking. Most of the players have bought in but you haven't. Oh, you still can. But the price has risen since Saturday. If you want to buy in now it's going to cost you a Test match on the sidelines.

You see messages of support from back home. On Twitter, past players are angry. Damien Martyn, Darren Lehmann, Tom Moody. This is not how things were done in the old days. Filling in forms? Writing notes? What's wrong with sorting it all out over a drink in the bar or a feisty team meeting?

Mark Waugh says this is not schoolboy stuff. It's not Under-6s, he says. That's right, you're a grown man with your own brain and you get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, at least, to play this game. You're a professional. So why haven't you acted like one? This is not 1993, it's 2013. This is the modern, ultra-professional era. With big salaries and contracts come responsibilities.

Perhaps you're already learning. Every day you're supposed to fill in wellness reports to allow the fitness and medical staff to assess your health and help work out your training regime. Every day, a few players forget, or just can't be bothered. After the events of this morning, after you let the team down, everyone is on notice. For the first time, every single player submits their report.

Yes, for now it feels like a crisis point for Australian cricket. But a synonym for "crisis point" is "turning point". And if you all buy in to the wider team ethos, there is no reason this should not be a significant turning point for the team under this coach and captain.

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

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Posted by Meety on (March 13, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

@Doogius on (March 12, 2013, 5:56 GMT) - regardless of sore eyeballs, the Wellness Test is a process borrowed from the ALL BLACKS, who are a benchmark for International sports. The reality is that Oz have a serious injury problem, lots of man-hours are being devoted to being able to keep the players on the paddock. to not fill out the report is sabotage! BTW - re: Siddle, he claimed the decision not to play the Perth Test was his. The point about the Wellness Test is that SOME of the players hadn't been filling it out - I then suggested that maybe they don't think they have to? The Warne comparison (IMO) - is not a good one, as he had been stood down from playing for Oz on occasions. Also regarding Warne, the Oz side had a different culture & could aford to indulge a few excesses, this team cannot. I would argue the reason why we have "management" is that there are so FEW Leaders in the team - that even Warner is considered a leader. No Kallis's or Sachin 150 gamers here!

Posted by balajik1968 on (March 13, 2013, 1:20 GMT)

If the punishment was just for missing this homework it was too harsh. However, if these things have been brewing for a long time, I do not know. That said, the team management could have waited for end of tour to do this. To gut the team this way in the middle of the tour does not look good. This puts a lot of questions on the man management, considering the way temperamental people like Katich and Symonds were handled. One also needs to look at the way Hussey, arguably the ultimate team man, left.

Posted by   on (March 13, 2013, 1:03 GMT)

It is a simple case of creating a smoke screen so that both the Captain and the Coach are not the focus. When things were going well against WI or SL, did the same coach or the captain ever asked for any input from any of these players? Especially from those who were not even part of the playing eleven. What is Khawaja going to say when he was not even considered good enough to play and was overlooked? The bottom line is this that the team composition was not right for the second test. Lyon, Starc and Khawaja should have been in the playing eleven. That did not happen and the whole team selection backfired. Now the team management is just looking to divert attention by creating this whole circus. Punishment just doesn't add up.

Posted by vj3478 on (March 12, 2013, 18:00 GMT)

I would have agreed with the author if I were at school.. but I dont and none of the OZ players. You can write a long essay about missing one dumb task. Give a try to do the same describing how talented they arnd the hard work they did to play at this level and above all the disappointment in not doing well. Any sports person even at the school level doesnt like losing and they are pros. Just agree that there will be bad days with a young team and get over it

Posted by Beertjie on (March 12, 2013, 16:02 GMT)

The best article on this issue that I've read so far. Still, I don't think the issues were properly dealt with punishmentwise. If you lack communication skills as a coach and captain, you're the wrong person for the job. I think they are both over sensitive to the justified criticism of the team and in trying to hold everyone accountable they have succeeded in diverting attention away from the structural weaknesses in the squad selected. Spot on @ScottStevo on (March 12, 2013, 13:49 GMT). @bipulkumar on (March 12, 2013, 4:22 GMT) Good point :The punishment was needed but it was poorly timed and managed.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 15:40 GMT)

Wow great to see so many disciplinarians in the room, so what is discipline anyway is it complete the given task even if you don't like it or want to do it ? The task given to them is very very simple, they could have even text it to coach, not just email or presentation but they didn't comply don't you guys feels some fishy in here. Don't you think this could have been discussed in an hour in a conference room with all the players and support staff, why give them 5 days time to send 3 points, this is very absurd and the coach literally wasted 5 days to get opinions from the players, why the coach wants everything in black and white? The captain mentions the straw that broke the camel back, while coach says it is line in the sand moment. The guys who agree with the coach and captain are living in rock ages, you can't discipline people by giving harsh punishment, this was done by the coach and captain to show who is the boss and if you wanna stay in the team you have to please me first

Posted by syyed on (March 12, 2013, 15:03 GMT)

Very flawed and based on contradictory arguments. If plays are to be ultra professionals then how does this apply to coaches? If a player doesn't perform he is fumed based on the premise that if he is not performing there is no point of paying him then what about Mr Coach. Players are paid for on field performance and for the items enlisted for conduct off the field which are in black and white; not on some capricious demands of some fools who don't know how to do their jobs. Which contract or binding document really enlisted that if a player doesn't give three points will not be considered for next match. And what about motivation which is also part of modern cop orate cultus. Absolute failure on the part of coaches and leadership team and just trying to distract everyone from real issues or they are hiding something.

Posted by ADB1 on (March 12, 2013, 14:48 GMT)

Will "presentation scores" appear alongside Australian players bowling and batting averages in the next test?:

"PJ Hughes: Tests: 21. Inns: 41. Avg: 33.25. Essay score: 78%."

Posted by Tumbarumbar on (March 12, 2013, 13:52 GMT)

@igthorn I really hope you are indulging in some quiet sarcasm when you suggest that Waugh, Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Hayden, et al were letting others do their cricket thinking for them. If you are I would suggest following the career paths of such coaching luminaries as John Buchanan to see just how successful he has been without a team stuffed to the gills with outstanding talent. It doesn't take a genius to say 'pitch the ball up on or about off stump, look for swing or seam' but it does take a bit of genius to bowl 20 consecutive leg cutters at pace on or about off stump on a dead wicket then with no change of action bowl a perfect off cutter.

Posted by ScottStevo on (March 12, 2013, 13:49 GMT)

You've answered all your own questions, Coverdale..."Or go see the coach and talk through your thoughts in person" - The manager is incapable of arranging this before creating a majo rincident? Apparently so. Arthur is a joke and should be removed from the set up with immediate effect. The selection panel need to be changed too.

Posted by rgunda on (March 12, 2013, 13:43 GMT)

Very good article, Brydon. Fully agree the 'four' acted unprofessionally. Mar Waygh, Well said. Watson being the vice captain should know better. Clarke may not have the best team under him but in my opinion he is the best Australian captain we have had in the last 20 years, plays positive cricket and a gentleman.If Watto can't get along with him it is best for australian cricket that he keeps away. If the captain and vice captain can't get along the team would suffer. Clarke is the better cricketer and betterguy anyway.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 13:24 GMT)

A lot of people are saying how drastic the action taken is, but it is absolutely correct. Losing two test matches in such a fashion needs the players to reflect on what they can do better, rapid improvement is needed and for that players need to work physically and mentally harder. If Hussey was still there he'd have been the first person to submit his evaluation, he'd have been out training even harder and holding the others accountable for their failings. Shane Watson, as a VC should have done this too, he should be inspiring the younger players in the side to train harder and setting the right example. If players don't do as the coach asks them, especially at a time like this then the coach needs to stamp on it. The punishment needs to be harsh, if they just receive a slap on the wrist every time they misbehave then they will think they are untouchable. No player is more important than the team or the coach. Well played Mickey Arthur a bold and defining decision.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 12:46 GMT)

Commitment to the team is best shown by one's performance in the middle and not by meaningless power point presentations.In other words it is what you do and not what you say thats important and without a doubt thats what realy counts .

Posted by anshu.s on (March 12, 2013, 12:35 GMT)

As an Indian i find it quite curious that a major controversy has erupted and BCCI or Indian cricketers are not involved :P.I find it intresting that opinions on this website and other public forums are split down the middle , half the Australian fans support the move while other half does not. I very much doubt even with these four players result of Mohali test would have any differrent.Australian team management and NSP are guilty of too much rhetoric and pontificating, words like workload etc were bandied around . Look trailing 2-0 and doing badly has stung and Australians are hurting and rightly so, but playing and doing well in spin friendly conditions call for long term solutions not short term fixes .three ideas .... and all the talk about our winning culture cannot subsitute for skills in the middle.Quite simply current Australian team in these conditions against India is not good enough and no rhetoric about winning culture, team unity,fighting spirit is going to change that

Posted by Jack_Melbourne on (March 12, 2013, 12:33 GMT)

Well, does really all coaches just assign and collect ideas from players and make a team successful or number one? No harm in this approach but it should not be mandatory for all to participate and subsequently require displanary action! Does not it simply mean that coach / captin has got no idea where team was gone wrong or how or what to do to bring it back on right track??? Folks sitting on top layers (coach, captin, tour manger etc) should be thinking really hard, making and applying winning strategy as that's their job ..... they are head hunted and well paid for the task too! I believe this saga has more failures at the top then at with poor four talented young men. Perhaps it's time for few head to roll at the top so national pride can be restored!

Posted by echo8 on (March 12, 2013, 12:12 GMT)

Byron, Your article whilst nicely written is so far off the mark it can only be compared to the corporate crap big business spruiks . I wonder if any player told the truth & suggested the selectors go followed by Arthur himself. Making professional athletes do home work shows a lack of commonsense, just like some big companies, maybe an honest one on one with the coach might have been a more mature way of doing it. It is common knowledge Clark plays favourites, start picking the best team & ease up on the rotations. Coaches should be making the improvement in consultation with players not enforcing private school rules on men long past years 10 & 11

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 11:33 GMT)

Beg to differ. The leadership group in the team, which is senior and more experienced, should have been used to come up with the answers which were then discussed in the wider team group and further input illicited. What has transpired is unprofessional and messy helps no one. If the riot act needed to be read, then it should have been done confidentially, one on one.

Posted by Srivatsas on (March 12, 2013, 11:32 GMT)

This article is brilliant. I don't agree with the one-match ban but a line has to be drawn somewhere. If someone can't think of 3 areas of improvement for a team in 4 days then they shouldn't be playing cricket. I think this will decide Clarke's captaincy future, either everyone supports him and they improve or he loses captaincy within the next year. I hope it is the former and the team comes out fighting (after the India series as I support India :P)

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 11:28 GMT)

This is what they should've written:-

1. You left are 2 best spinners (O'Keefe and Hauritz) as home 2. You picked 4 seamers on a slow turner in the first test 3. Instead of backing your best spinner and giving him support, you drop him

After that you then expect us to give you the answers?

Posted by MaheshVenkat on (March 12, 2013, 11:09 GMT)

@Ashok Rajasingh: Thought on the same lines as you. But was surprised by Allan Border's reaction to this thing. He seemed to think that the reaction was overblown. The reactions of other players was not out of line considering that most players consider themselves special and do not expect to be reined in with rules.

Posted by andhrariders on (March 12, 2013, 10:53 GMT)

If coach doesn't know what went wrong with the team then whats his job there,it's really a bit harsh sacking them for the test they should have been fined,it will clearly affect the team performance.

Posted by DustyBin on (March 12, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

Brydon, I agree with your (SUPERB) article on everything except the punishment because A.how does washing dirty linen in public help team unity & morals? fine them in private-half/all their tour fee if necessary, & make it a point of principle that "this stays indoors. We're all in this together & on the same side. You won't be publically hung out to dry" B.if you're struggling, don't make your best players unavailable. E.g. no Pattinson on these wickets = more big Indian totals . Eng got lucky in that Pietersen came back better after his recent exile-are these guys automatically going to improve while feeling sore 'on the bench'? that's a big gamble to assume they will.

Posted by SumitSahai on (March 12, 2013, 10:36 GMT)

I wonder if 7 of the players had not submitted these points, would they have banned all 7 for the next test and play with only 7 men from the original squad plus some hastily flown in reserves?

Strictly speaking, this is an off-field cricket offence, so could the punishment also not be kept off-field - i.e. continue to select them in the interest of the series and paying fans, but make them pay in some other way, like the CA docking their entire tour fees for breach of contract?

Why does the cricket fan have to suffer the absence of players who are fully fit and would have come back with vengeance at the loss of their series fee to show their commitment on the field?

Posted by Petesta on (March 12, 2013, 10:35 GMT)

Excellent article. I can't believe how soft all the ex-players are.

One criticism of the punishment is that it jeopardizes Australia's chances on the tour. Sorry? This series is long gone! Aus would need to win both of the next two games simply to draw the series, which is very unlikely. Much rather sort out the culture now before the Ashes - it's the last chance to do it.

The other question that keeps coming up is: what if 7 players hadn't submitted the form? Well then reality would have meant that the best option - dropping the players - wasn't an option and you would have to make do with a fine etc. Life is full of if's and but's and if you were to live by every if and but you'd get no-where. People asking this question are as adverse to thinking practically as Watson is.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 10:18 GMT)

The players should have been punished but not in a way which demonstrably affects the chances of winning the next match. All this talk of professionalism cuts both ways, its the coaches job to ensure they win matches, this decision lowers the chance of doing just that. Some punishment is warranted but this decision smacks of poor man management.

Posted by Ducky610 on (March 12, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

Clarke and Arther had no choice. What would a reprimand do? this is the only way they could hope to get through to these players. As the merit of such a simple task after such heavy defeats didnt. Johnson and Watson particularly who are meant to be senior players have to lead the way. It's good to see Pattinson has taken more responsibility

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 9:41 GMT)

Great article, Brydon, spot on, Watson has been a loose cannon, for years, his Ego, far outweighs his performances for Australia. Everyone got on Mark Waugh`s case for 1 or 2 soft dismissals, in a five test series, yet in the same series he played some majestic innings. His 114, against the Saffer`s, on the Green Monster, was the only score above 40 in 2 completed Test Innings, just majestic. Problem is with Watson, is more than half his Test Innings, are soft dismissals, and he has averaged a pathetic 27, over the last 2.5 years, without 1 Century. He is not good enough as a batsman only, if he is awesome against quick-bowlers, he is worse than pathetic against slow bowlers, and he has not improved his batting style, against spinners. I am on Clarke, Mickey`s, and the Aussie selectors side, play any other batsman than Watson. I think Haddin will bat at 5, Wade will bat at 6, and if his ankle is up to it he will keep.

Posted by indpomoz2011 on (March 12, 2013, 9:37 GMT)

I am an Indian myself but I have no hesitation in writing this. For goodness sake, can Indians lay off from this Arthur-Clarke episode. Teams that shrugg off 0-8 losses have no moral right to interfere in the affairs of other national teams - even if the saga has taken place in the public gaze. While one can disagree with modus operandi and the degree of punishment meted out to the four players by the CA, they can not brush individual indiscretions aside the way the BCCI resorts to do. Forget about three bullet points to be submitted by each Australian team member as advised by Coach Mickey, can the entire Indian squad that was part of that infamous 0-8 give the Indian public one important reason for the humiliating losses? No. Only response you will hear is this -- "Rank turners with the ball spinning from the very first delivery of the match". ----- contdā€¦

Posted by Mitcher on (March 12, 2013, 8:22 GMT)

Surely those using the "isn't it the coaches job" line are being disingenuous. This is clearly about the players self evaluating and hopefully getting some insights into their own deficiencies and developing solutions. This is not a foreign concept in the sporting or corporate worlds. This approach should please those same people, many of who claim the coach has too much influence.

Posted by Ammy_rd on (March 12, 2013, 7:44 GMT)

Talking about corporations. Has anyone heard the term 'CHANGE AGENT' before? A Change Agent belongs to the very group you are trying to bring change in. He is well liked, respected by others and brings change to people in a 'HUMANE' way. He brings both the interest of the management and the change group to the table and inspires rather than imposes change. In this case Aus seem to be lacking that 'Friendly' figure who could instill such philosophies of self reflection in team culture in its true spirit; Someone like Mike Hussey. Pup has given up his 'friendly role' within the team by being a selector. Who are you left with then? Another important aspect of change is 'Communication'.You need to make sure that people are on the same page. Shy and Rebellious characters need to be talked to personally; it inspires confidence in them! Group discussions are very important. If you want to bring change in team culture, let it start as a group, not individually. Hence, its a case of poor mgmt!

Posted by crikhardcore on (March 12, 2013, 7:11 GMT)

Well,a very good point made here.But just think about this scenario,what if these were the 4 guys who hadn't completed the work,1.Mitch Johnson,2.Mitchell Starc,3.Pattinson and 4.Siddle??what do you do then?? Does that mean you go into Mohali without a specialist seamer? The team management could make the decision here as it would not probably effect their team combination much.I dare say that had it been all 4 seamers then all this talk of discipline and behavior would have been pushed to the side..!!!

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 6:42 GMT)

So what the hell is the coach for if its up to the players to come up with the ideas?????

Posted by CantFindMyScreenName on (March 12, 2013, 6:30 GMT)

@azzaman333 - not a million miles off the mark, there has to be some responsibility from the players.

I'm just not sure how anyone could look James Pattinson in the eye after the effort he's put in for the last 2 games that he hasn't bought into making the team the best he can.

As for the wellness reports? I can understand the reticence to hand them in if means you get 'rotated' out of Boxing Day Tests because of them.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 6:30 GMT)

Corporate level responsibility.......a tool used by management to rationalize their more often than not erroneous judgements....destroying corporations since corporations found form.....and now ready to spread like the plague in cricket. What's this sudden fixation with corporate culture???I come from one,and trust me it's an environment that ain't even ideal for the growth of moss and lichens,and they don't need much to grow and thrive.It's dull,it deadens the free spirit,and can be even at best of times very very divisive.No wonder the Aussie side is cracked up like a cheap mirror. And the three point power point presentation is the lamest idea ever(what baffles me is how on earth did the other 12 men in the squad agree to this.The Hyderabad bashing really hit them hard,they can't e'en think for themselves now).E'en if one took this in the no questions asked,Corporate spirit,the 5 day deadline is a waste of time.What exactly did Mickey ask them to come up with,the meaning of life???

Posted by Igthorn on (March 12, 2013, 6:18 GMT)

So, imagine you are the head coach of a team that is badly underperforming. A team that has a legacy of greatness, of players who can take a game by the scruff of its neck and shake it until it cries. Men who were tough, disciplined and had the mental attitude and cricket savvy to play themselves out of any position. These players clearly didn't think about their cricket or their own techniques - they just played - they didn't reflect on bowling actions or opponents or stances or anything silly like that, they just had fun. Their success was only because the coach did all their thinking for them. That's how it should be - asking cricketers to do their own thinking? Ridiculous. Wanting people to buy into their own path to success by having them define the problems they face? Even more ridiculous.

Pampered cricket players need to take responsibility for the choices they make - certainly the vc of the team should have stepped up.

Posted by trumpoz on (March 12, 2013, 6:13 GMT)

Great article. Yes it is only a presentation, but there seem to be a number of things building up. The fact that they were all minor doesn't matter - these are professional sportsmen and they have a responsibility to do what is required of them. To those lambasting Mickey Arthur - he has set the goal for the team, and set a way forward. The team is made up of individuals and in order to get the rest of the team on board it seems logical for them to commit to how they will contribute to the vision and goals of the team.

Posted by Doogius on (March 12, 2013, 5:56 GMT)

@Meety, fully agree with @Greatest Game. Given the scary selection policies, my guess is that if you suggested you had a sore eyeball in the 'wellness report', your sitting out the next test. If you suggest your sore but are sweet for the next test, well ask Siddle after Adelaide. Usman hasn't played for yonks, so why is his wellness report so important. You then suggest that the players don't think they need to be monitored, but isn't a wellness report monitoring yourself? Ask yourself this, if Warnie was in this position - think they would have dropped him? Don't feel bad though, theres a clear distinction between leadership and management. England, SA even India have leadership, we have management. I've seen senior execs get this wrong, its not uncommon and its why leadership is so valued. We just have to wait for another generation before we get any. FTR, I think MC is fully responsible but Arthurs is taking the can, the same Arthurs that saved MJs career in WA...

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 5:52 GMT)

very good article indeed 100% agree with the writter

Posted by azzaman333 on (March 12, 2013, 5:35 GMT)

If professional cricketers don't care enough about their job to tell the coach how they think they and the team can improve, they don't deserve to be professional cricketers. It's not like there's a shortage of things that could be improved upon, we've just been smashed in back to back tests.

Posted by ignoranceisbliss on (March 12, 2013, 5:34 GMT)

I have been working in a bank for almost a decade and have always hated the bureaucracy involved and cricket has always been the vent I had to let off steam. This incident is so ridiculous that it is funny. What's not funny is people trying to rationalise about it and actually even condoning it! 1. The point raised by most is that it was only 3 points and not a ppt. To them I would just quote Arthur's own words - "They could do it in any way. It could be in writing and putting something on e-mail, it could have been sending an SMS followed up by an email." If you note he says an SMS followed by an email not just an SMS. No mention of one on one conversation also. This implies that he definitely was after formal procedure or that this most definitely wasn't just about "introspection" but also unnecessary procedure. Watson and the rest thinking, digging deep and improving isn't enough but showing Micky that they are, is. That forms the basis of all red tape which has no place in cricket

Posted by Tumbarumbar on (March 12, 2013, 5:32 GMT)

Brydon, you neglect to mention that the coach is the CEO who sets policy, hires and fires and writes the plans for the day. When the CEO starts to distribute 'what should I do next?' forms to the staff (including the temps) then he has a serious I have no idea what I'm doing problem. Arthur should have presented his ideas to the players and asked for their views. What will happen now when they have a team meeting and player's hear their own concepts regurgitated back at them? I can tell you exactly, they'll have a big thought bubble over their heads that contains the word 'loser'.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 5:22 GMT)

The author says "But if you forgot, how switched on are you? This is the only thing you've had to do and you haven't done it. Where is your head at? Not in the space it needs to be in to play a Test, clearly. "

The only thing the likes of Huges had to do was score a few runs, and they haven't done it. That bloke has got out four times in the space of 36 balls against spinners, without scoring a single run.... surely Khwaja, even if he is totally switched off and with a head not at space to play a Test can surely better that... ditto for Johnson, in place of Millionaire Max.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 5:19 GMT)

Straight out of the Aussie coaching manual, make presentations, read art of war and above all else needle the best player in the team. Watson is what Pieterson is for England, the English board almost screwed up, but woke up just in time, if Pieterson was not around the scoreline would have been different.. I remember the Buchanan and Greg Chappel and their mad ways, Greg even made the Rajasthan team to do Commando training..we play and watch cricket because its a game, make it simple and don't over burden it with this kind of nonsense.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (March 12, 2013, 5:18 GMT)

Team cohesiveness comes with leading from the front, not a whipping from behind. This is not a "line in the sand" moment, this is an "Australia's dirty laundry on the line" moment.

So now the players are running scared. Great! Scared does not win test matches, confident does. The best thing that happened for SA in their test series with England, a series that decided the no.1 position, was the public fight between the ECB and Kevin Petersen, and his being dropped from the third test. After thrashing England in the first test, KP was all that had stood between SA and victory in the second test. England lost the third test, the series, the no.1 position, & the captain retired

Airing dirty laundry does nothing for team morale, and it does not speak of strong, inspiring leadership. Axing top players achieves nothing else than fielding a second rate team. The baby has definitely been tossed out with the bathwater.

Posted by Someguy on (March 12, 2013, 5:07 GMT)

@ jagwoodbridge - you have it completely wrong, the message they are sending them is not "obey me and you stay regardless of your performance on the field", it is "this is a team sport and if you don't want to be a team player, we don't want you, regardless of your performance on the field", which is very, very different. They are trying to get the team culture right, and if people in the team/squad think they are above it, they don't deserve to be there.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (March 12, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

@anuajm on (March 11, 2013, 18:48 GMT), but it's not just a sport. It's their job. If this was a club team where people played for fun then you could understand them not wanting to spend time on "homework" but, as the article says, these guys are getting paid very well to do this stuff so if they're told to do something then they should darn well do it. Players can try their best and still fail on the field. We all accept that because there are always factors outside of your control. This was completely within their control and they just didn't bother because, apparently, they didn't believe that it was important.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 5:04 GMT)

Spectators don't come to the grounds to see what drama the likes of Mickey Arthur dish out in the 22 yard strip. We pay dear money to see the likes of Watson and Pattinson ply their trade. If I was an Aussie, I wouldn't care if James Pattinson filled out his feedback form. He's a fast bowler- what does he bring to the team? Heck he bowls faster than any other player on either sides. What will he do to turn things around? Bowl faster. What should the team do to turn this around? Go figure. Has anyone questioned the futility of the questions, at least to some players? So they didn't fill out a form, sort it out like grown ups and don't rob the fans of a contest.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 5:03 GMT)

India should recruit Pattinson for Mohali so that we have a bowler who shows the Australians playing there true work ethic.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 4:57 GMT)

Coach is a coach, whose job is to ask questions and get the best solutions from team members. This is what Arthur is doing. He did not bother about presentation skills or report format, which is what many are accusing him of doing. Players are contracted, they have responsibilities, which they must fulfill. Not doing so will obviously attract disciplinary measures. Warne, Martyn are only cracking jokes, they do not have responsibility to turn performance around. Ian Chappel says he was not interested in what players wrote. Neither is Arthur. He is interested in improvement plan. When team is not delivering result, team management must ask for improvement plan. It is standard. In any job if you do not perform you need to prepare improvement plan and execute. Good job Arthur and Clarke. Good job Brydon for balanced reporting. Being the best is not easy. It requires discipline and sacrifice. India does not do these, and India is not the best team, plain and simple to understand.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 4:52 GMT)

I don't think Pattinson, at least, did not act like a professional. The guy bowled with soul, and should not have had to tell the coach about how to improve others, after setting that example!

Posted by Simoc on (March 12, 2013, 4:45 GMT)

The coach is out of his depth. If he had management skills he could walk up to and speak to the players. But no he's playing the big tough boss. This guy with Clarke are responsible for the idiotic selections. Now looking for scapegoats. Arthur should not be a selector. He is basically bad for cricket. Contributes nothing worthwhile.

Posted by PointFielder on (March 12, 2013, 4:45 GMT)

Arthur has failed as a coach. The performance shows it all. He takes credit when team does well and passes on buck when team fails. When they won the WestIndies series, he took the credit. Now that they are losing he is shrugging off the defeats on the players. His contract might not be renewed.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (March 12, 2013, 4:22 GMT)

Imagine Duncan Fletcher doing with this Indian players...He will be packing his bags.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 4:19 GMT)

Though the writer makes a compelling case, we haven't heard the other side of the story, from the banned players. I think they would have a point of view as well. In any case, I blame the Aus coach that things had to come to this.

Posted by joseyesu on (March 12, 2013, 4:19 GMT)

May be the improvent points given earlier might not be considered. Who knows...?With the introduction of T20, players were more aggressive and not patient as like Pujara and Vijay. Both of them are playing only Test matches and it might be easy for them to play it patiently. It is like asking them to change their mindset just like a switch of a button. To me Ind is as same as the team played against Eng. Eng won it because COOK hold one side, and in Aus, Clarke is not ready to move up. And it Bowling, Eng has understood that, in ASIA you cannot win matches without quality spinners and Aus refused to go with that.

Posted by Test_Cricket_Lover_India on (March 12, 2013, 4:17 GMT)

Beating factory workers will not help to improve a company's profit. The coach and captain can involve team members in brain storming session where everybody says what he feels.

The approach taken by coach looks to make the entire process bureaucratic, tiring and insipid. Why didn't coach ask to come with 3 points verbally? isn't coach paid to take notes?

The approach is similar to SYA in regular corporate world.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 4:09 GMT)

Coverdale talks about the lesson learnt by Khawaja and Johnson. What about the lesson learnt by Phil Hughes? That an abjectly horrible performance is perfectly fine so long that you can account for it with a few choice words?

Posted by Clyde on (March 12, 2013, 4:03 GMT)

This is a game of cricket we are talking about. If the captain doesn't want certain people in his team they can go off and play with another captain. Nor do players have an obligation to hand in their little notes. It is, rather, about bowling, hitting, catching. The problem seems to be about a kind of militarisation of the game. That also is OK, except that I personally would not want to be a player. Or a spectator, for that matter. I feel the game is being taken over by people like Mr Arthur, who does not appear on the field, whom we cannot barrack at. No matter how many little notes you have, it is obvious that the game is not going to co-operative with you. What we need is eleven players a side who read the game along with us, the spectators. This means pitch, weather, outfield. These major factors cannot fit into a little note, as they happen only on the day, whichever day, and form on the day, whichever day.

Posted by Meety on (March 12, 2013, 4:02 GMT)

@Patrick_ on (March 11, 2013, 19:02 GMT) "...axeing the inform player (Pattinson) does seem abnormal for me..." - yes but IMO he would of been Rotated anyways - 2 games in a row for a bloke who's had several recent injuries. @ jagwoodbridge on (March 11, 2013, 18:04 GMT) "...your spot is safe as long as you do what we tell you, performance on the field has got nothing to do with it..." - sorry, but performance on the field had EVERYTHING to do with what happenned! The article just noted it was Oz's 10th WORST defeat EVER! The players SHOULD be doing everything they are told & MORE!

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 4:00 GMT)

One of the most ridiculous pieces I have read. I can understand dropping a player for missing training, breaking a curfew, drinking or misbehaviour. But writing three points on how the team could improve? Bat better, bowl better, fieldbetter. There, Mr Arthur....happy now? Poor Pattinson, especially- he's bowled his hert out in very difficult circumstances and this is how he's rewarded? Way to go! All the wellness reports and jottings on paper cannot replace hard work and talent.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 3:49 GMT)

I don't think this defense sticks.All arguments towards professional demeanor and responsibility are defeated by the consequences this unconsidered act might have on Australian cricket.Just the fact that there has been a general outcry against this,should be an indication that it has not been taken well,either by the fans or by those who actually played the game.There's a way to handle breaches by players,and your team's history,culture and precedence do have a part to play in that.True that things might need to change with times,and desperate times could ask for desperate measures,but if the measures you take leave no one happy-the fans are riled,the ex-players incensed,and those playing or contemplating playing the game(the future of Aus cricket) edgy(let's face it if the punishment does not fit the crime and is way more than warranted,everyone's going to be nervous.),you have done the game more harm than good.Professionalism could do with a little dose of foresight.

Posted by Nightbat on (March 12, 2013, 3:42 GMT)

Fair enough, Brydon. You've got to start cracking the whip at some point, you've draw a line somewhere. I'm sure this will put the players on notice (those that hang around, anyway - Watto may not be one of those) and get them to toe Pup and the head coach's line now onward.

The next test match in Mohali is now as good as lost. Pup and Arthur have essentially sacrificed a test match for what they see is the long-term benefit of the team.

However, would 4 players have been sacked for a test, if they were playing the Ashes? My guess is: NO. They would have been put on notice, and then dealt with firmly after the series was over.

The management would never have jeopardized the result for the series for the sake of "team standards" or discipline.

What this tells us is this: The Border-Gavaskar trophy does not really matter to Cricket OZ/Pup/Arthur. The Indian playing public's sentiments and desire to see the best OZ side contend with the Indian side don't matter.

And that is a shame.

Posted by gavaniacono on (March 12, 2013, 3:36 GMT)

The team has been performing very poorly, and anything that can be done to improve them should be tried, including the presentation request and trying to build a stronger team commitment if that is required. The punishment seems tough, but team rules need to be absolute.

Posted by Brine_in_Brisbane on (March 12, 2013, 3:20 GMT)

Brydon, you've missed the point. The Australian team has a meeting everyday, and players are asked their opinions everyday, so why now are they asked to submit a wriiten document or front to the coach. And what if the player had submitted their report saying everything was fine with themselves and it was all the fault of the other players. No, it is way past time for written reports and cosy chats. The coaching team and selectors need to accept the fact that their policies have resulted in taking away players who should never have gone to India. The selectors needed to have ensured the players slected had good form and plenty of it in the test area. No, written reports and cosy chats are a sign of poor management that is out of ideas.

Posted by wah_wah on (March 12, 2013, 3:19 GMT)

Well, Australia had a high chance of losing the test even with these guys around, because they did not matter in the last one.So, at least giving them a shake up does not harm a lot. It reminds you that everything is being watched and accounted for. One more loss will do no good, but it will do less harm than losing it and players not caring about it. They have a big picture of Ashes down the road, so this makes sense.

Posted by TheCrafter on (March 12, 2013, 2:59 GMT)

Sorry Brydon I cannot agree - the punishment simply does not fit the crime - how would they have managed this if 6 or 8 players had not filled out the form - wouild we have had to forfeit to India in the 3rd test !

Posted by Refractor on (March 12, 2013, 2:43 GMT)

Great article. If you can't do the right thing by the team after copping that sort of a beating, why are you there? If you're not going to listen to the coach, why even have one? As an Australian player you need to respect the fact that Cricket Australia (your boss) has put Arthur there to improve your performance and attempt to get value for money for the hundreds of thousands of dollars they've given you and if you want to keep getting that money, you need to do what he says. Earning big money from the IPL and various other franchises doesn't give you the right to opt in and out of your duties as an Australian player as you see fit. That kind of thing might fly in the West Indies but it should never be a part of the Australian setup.

Posted by Wacco on (March 12, 2013, 2:33 GMT)

This is good stuff...this shows how much you are involved. This is a team game and the palyers have to think - cant ride on other's shoulders. Absolutely modern thinking and lot of NFL (US) coaches do this.

Posted by Elifent on (March 12, 2013, 2:31 GMT)

If the team is lacking team spirit, it is not the problem of not coming up with some points or ideas. It is building up the team spirit. Give the job to a psychologist. Cricketers are players who need to perform in the ground. If they aren't skilled they won't be in the team in the first place. If they don't listen to the coach and the captain then there is some problem with either one of them or both and not the players. If they didn't attend the practice session then it is a problem of the players who didn't attend. Then this punishment has a reason. The mere fact that they need to give a presentation for obtaining a feedback from the players itself shows the 'cricketing spirit' has departed from the team. Prepare for a 0-4 loss now. Clarke is not on track. Period.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 2:24 GMT)

The punishment is clearly about a combination of things that have built up during the tour. It would be naive to think this was a one-off for these gentlemen. Stories are emerging of generally slack behaviour. It doesn't help when the team arrives in India at different times which looked sloppy.

Posted by bradman5 on (March 12, 2013, 2:23 GMT)

Couldn't agree more. Shane Watson is trying to prove is continued value to the team minus his bowling, and his behaviour as Vice Captain is abysmal. And now he's 'contemplating his future' in reaction to being disciplined? Instead of supporting his captain, he's leading a revolt. Show him the door. Khawaja's trying to break into the team, but can't be bothered to contribute? See ya. Pattinson is fighting with how many others for a permanent place in the side, but thinks he's exempt? On your bike. Clarke has to do what he's done, these others had a choice.

Posted by davydavo on (March 12, 2013, 2:17 GMT)

Consider this from Johnson and Khawaja's view. You have been picked in the squad, but sofar haven't played either game. You have been watching the games for the respective days, thinking about what needs to be done but you are frustrated, being sure if only you get a chance you will perform. After a huge loss, the coach tells you to have a couple days off, and you think "days off from what?". Then the coach tells you to do an assignment stating where you can improve and how you can perform better. You are human, hence have feelings, and get offended; 'who are they to ask this of you when they haven't even given you a chance to play?'. Out of annoyance you throw the assignment away and instead go hit the nets or hang out with the team. a few days later when it was due, you find out you are dropped for not doing a homework assignment that you felt was absolutely irrelevant (and offensive) to you. How is this going to help their games?

Posted by VENKAT67 on (March 12, 2013, 2:13 GMT)

Mickey Arthur is wrong in thinking that he could change the fortune of his team by asking stupid questions from players. As a coach it is his responsibility to identify weakness of the individual player and correct it and not by asking the player to answer home work like questions. The team management would do well to to take a leaf out of history books of 1990s when Allan Border successfully transformed a similar team into athe best side in the world, by persistence, perservance and humbleness.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (March 12, 2013, 2:09 GMT)

I don't see how condemning the team to an even worse drubbing is going to help team morale. Maybe make these 4 players stand up and give their presentations in front of the group? That would have been quite embarrassing rather than humiliating them to the entire cricket world.

Posted by webbsy on (March 12, 2013, 2:06 GMT)

The issue is the fact that despite the endless number of support staff analyzing every aspect of the players on/off field performance, they were required to make a written or oral presentation to the coach. Then why have support and coaching staff? For it is precisely their job to identify such issues and make suggestions. Seems like Arthur has added an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the team. Why couldn't a team meeting suffice?. All the rhetoric has been that its a team, this was decidedly individual. Was Arthur trying to get dirt on who likes who, and who was blaming who? to use that as leverage to mold HIS team and not THE BEST team? How was he going to communicate all of the ideas? Hold a team meeting to discuss them? Seems that is the most effective option rather than creating an unwanted chore for the team. And why has behaviour been slipping in the first place? Lack of respect for the coach/support staff/selectors and their methods maybe?

Posted by bumsteer on (March 12, 2013, 2:01 GMT)

What rubbish Byron. The shortcomings in the Oz team start with the selectors , coach and captain. Where is their accountability?? The coach is paid to provide the answers not the players. I'm sure Mickey would have loved a presentation that argued that the coach was hopeless and needed replacing!!!!

Posted by Natx on (March 12, 2013, 1:56 GMT)

Even as a professional manager I will give enough chances and gentle reminders to my team members before penalizing them. The reason is simple. We are a team here. Not military. The goal is to "gel" and work as a team and have fun. Those are the teams that have more chance of succeeding than the ones where members are treated like school kids. Not sure how many reminders Mr. Arthur gave to the 4 folks before penalizing them. Whether you are a boss or newest member, unless egos are kept outside, we are looking at the team disintegrating fast. The folks here didn't do a KP here. They've just failed to turn in a "home work" in time. A simple reminder would've done wonders than showing who is the boss. Ridiculous.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 1:53 GMT)

One thing needs to be clear; were the players (all of them) aware of the penalties of not complying with the wishes of the coach? Whilst it may seem over the top if players were aware of the penalty then the really only have themselves to blame. And this should never have been made public. What on earth were CA and co. thinking?

Posted by popcorn on (March 12, 2013, 1:49 GMT)

Absolutely BRILLIANT article! NO one is bigger than the game OR THE TEAM. We play to WIN. We do not carry passengers who are just there for the ride!

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (March 12, 2013, 1:44 GMT)

I agree that the request was reasonable - these guys are VERY well paid professionals with lots of resources available to them. However, I think the punishment was a little harsh. Neither the players or management will walk away cleanly from this.

Has this been the most bungled tour in recent Australian crikceting history? I would have to think so.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 1:43 GMT)

Good thing nine out of the 16 didn't comply otherwise they'd be sending for more than just Brad Haddin. Wait, maybe that's a good idea. The present top order (Clarke excepted) doesn't seem to be able to get out of its own way. Wait, they can get out in all sorts of other ways. What a mess. It's making the traditional bad boys of disorganization (PCB) look positively tranquil....

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 1:41 GMT)

As it is the confidence level of the Australian team is very low after the two defeats. Axing the four players will not do any good, let alone the confidence of the team. What if all other players who are playing in the 3rd test fails miserably and the team management decides to ground them as well for the final test. Fly in a number of ex players to represent the team in the final test as blooding new players without any test experience will be suicidal. I reckon the Australians believe in their Manager who has been rotating the players without any significant results. Michael Clark is loyal both tlic with the CA as well as to the Manager. In my personal opinion, this punishment should have been carried out behind closed doors and not made pubic

Posted by LePom on (March 12, 2013, 1:36 GMT)

Wow. I thought that New Zealand had the worst international coach ever, but Mickey Arthur has surpassed the inept and devious handling of Ross Taylor's sacking. I agree that the players were wrong in not performing the task they were given. But far far worse is the fact that they were given a task like that in the first place. No manager/coach should ever deal with a situation in that way. The coach is there to coach, and his job is to sit down with each player individually and work through the type of issues that the question was about. Frankly the coach seems to have thrown a hissy fit, and instead of doing his job, abdicated his responsibility and put it on the players, and threy a further tantrum when they did not act how he wanted. He started the problem, the players compounded it, and now he has taken it nuclear. The damage is going to be far reaching and difficult to recover from. A good start would be sending the coach home and finding someone with some people skills.

Posted by Qeng_Ho on (March 12, 2013, 1:36 GMT)

This punishment is very, very harsh. In my view, that is justified because Australia have been very, very poor in the two tests in India and have displayed a lack of regard for their position as Australian cricketers.

There is only one true punishment for a cricketer. Being dropped. All the rest is just noise. If management felt that a failure to perform this task reflected a lack of commitment to the team, they ought not be dropped, they ought to be sent home.

Also, by subjecting their form bowler to the punishment the team understands that no-one is exempt if they are not pulling their weight. To my mind, Watson is no loss anyway on his recent performances.

Posted by mk49_van on (March 12, 2013, 1:34 GMT)

Great now they will need to persist with Hughes! A century in both innings, you think? :)

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (March 12, 2013, 1:23 GMT)

Maybe the assignment was small but the fact of the matter is that no other international team is being set these kinds of assignments, and no previous Australian team had to do these kinds of assignments. You can't expect cricketers to do something that has never been done before, not by their team, not by anyone. Axing them for not doing it is absurd to the extreme. The punishment of Kevin Pietersen was absurd but this is just ridiculous.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 1:08 GMT)

Agree with Anuajm that the punishment is too harsh! They are professionals, not schoolboys. Treat them as adults. The chief coach, Mickey Arthur, should be responsible for the fiasco. That is not the way to inculcate discipline, team spirit and respect! A much better way would be to conduct a frank one-to-one (and later followed by a group) discussion with each of the players with the purpose getting their views on the causes of the failure in the first 2 tests, and what can be done to address the situation. And based on the discussions, views and comments, draw up an action plan for implementation!

Posted by AnanthX on (March 12, 2013, 1:07 GMT)

Yes, it is important to be professional. Someone should tell the coach that as well. In principal, if your boss is an idiot, it's not unprofessional to not follow his every whim and fancy. Not saying that Arthur is an idiot, but the blanket statement that not following orders is unprofessional is something I disagree with. Australia are shooting themselves in the foot, and it serves them right. Though I'd have liked to have seen Khawaja bat and Pattinson bowl.

Posted by kk777 on (March 12, 2013, 0:56 GMT)

Bang on target ! High pay, higher respect for representing your country... with all that comes an even higher responsibility. Some are saying, we wouldn't have got Shane Warne in such a regime but how do you know? Maybe in terms of cricket he was driven enough and passionate enough to be the first one to turn in his three cents. All the ex-players criticizing the action are either going by the headlines and missing the finer print or they may be in contention for Mickey's job. Three points ! No essays, no presentation, nothing. Just three points to show you still care. Apparently they don't.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 0:50 GMT)

This seems to be completely an egoistic decision, would have a bad impact on team morale and in a way weaken the Australian team further and obviously not the right time.

Posted by mike_b on (March 12, 2013, 0:50 GMT)

I think this article is just playing devil's advocate I totally agree with the featured comment from @ anuajm.I believe Mickey is trying to save his own skin.Two days ago he was blaming Punter and Hussey for retiring & leaving his Ashes plans in turmoil. Er...maybe Mickey should have catered for the concept that two blokes nearing 40 with kids and a wife at home who miss & need them may well come in one day and say"you know what Mickey it's time for me to move on".Now he's trying to appear as a hard man to the public & Cricket Aust.With his over-the-top disciplining he seems to be implying that he's attempting to deal with a bad team culture that he inherited & it's not his fault.He needs to go away and do some study & homework himself.When picking Test teams every player must be able to do at least one of the following 3 tasks:(1)Bat in the top 6 (2) bowl in the top 4 or (3)keep wickets well.Guys that bat below 6 and are the 5th bowler are for short form cricket.Learn the game Mickey!

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (March 12, 2013, 0:48 GMT)

It looks like Clarke and Arthur have lost the dressing room. I dont have a problem with discipline, but the punishment doesnt fit the crime here. Who is at fault? No doubt the players SHOULD have made the effort, even if they, like majority of cricket fans, think it doesn't make any sense. However, we need to look deeper, because apparently its an ongoing problem. Players being selected for Test cricket when they struggle to dominate shield cricket, mediocre players being kept in the team, inconsistent and confusing rotation policies all contribute to the confusing disharmony that appears to be in the team. Pattinso has been our lion heart this tour, KHawaja and Johnson have worked their hearts out trying to get a spot and Watson has left, this is a debacle. Coupled with the fact that Clarke, while a fine skipper and our only inform player has a long way to go to handle such situations as this has been dealt with very badly, and a coach who has alot to answer for

Posted by CantFindMyScreenName on (March 12, 2013, 0:47 GMT)

I wonder if the players were given frequent - or any - reminders of the task, the due date and the potential consequences if it wasn't completed, even a hint.

It's OK to discipline people for not completing tasks. But mentions of "in a business world" are a bit over the top. In every workplace I've been in, if this kind of punishment was going to be handed out, there would have been frequent reminders of the task and the due date. A reminder the day before perhaps.

If this was just mentioned once, and left to the players - then the players have not done the right thing, but neither has the management.

To let things slide repeatedly, and then come out with the big stick seemingly at random seems completely illogical.

Typical Watson though, spitting the dummy and making it all about him. He's the only one of the four whose performance could be questioned as well.

Posted by ARad on (March 12, 2013, 0:41 GMT)

Everyone who are making comparisons to corporations are making the same mistake as Mickey Arthur & co. The CORE SKILLS needed to play cricket is not the same as the ones we typically need for working for a corporation. Good managers should be able to get feedback from us without making it a requirement. Be creative about avoiding ROUTINE PAPERWORK instead of making it as part of a 'process' that only highlights that you are not a CLEVER MANAGER to find alternatives. Considering the small size of a cricket squad, this should have been handled better. Top down 'methodical philosophies' don't work as well as COOPERATIVE LEADERSHIP methods in modern sports (and many other environs.)

Posted by frommoonman on (March 12, 2013, 0:37 GMT)

Those who say this is too harsh - I have one question: Try missing your yearly performance reviews and continue to ignore after several reminders from HR - you too will find yourselves looking for a new job very very soon.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 0:26 GMT)

Excellent Brydon. Nice to get the perspective of someone who is actually there. Even with the strongest team available from the tour party, Australia doesn't look like bowling India out twice. This series is as good as lost. Most likely so is the 1st Ashes series in UK. Australia is now lower than in 10/11. Border and Simpson had to rebuild from a similar situation in the mid 80s. Arthur C Clarke are doing it again now. Good luck to them. And I hate how so many past players are so public in their criticism. Not helping.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 0:13 GMT)

There is a logic to what happened, and this is the best article I have read putting the "other " side but the net result at the end makes everything look a shambles and that in turn does nothing for Aussie cricket. In future years, no matter the rights and wrongs of the actions, the outcome will be a subject of scorn. Not, I think, what they were aiming for .....

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 0:08 GMT)

Forget the haters. Well said!! Australia needs this kick up the butt. We need to be humiliated for the remaining two tests as a result of these suspensions so players can see what it's all worth. Such a small amount of homework, and absolutely ESSENTIAL homework too.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (March 11, 2013, 23:51 GMT)

Aus have handled the PR/media aspects of this very badly. They should try the English approach, when they have disciplinary problems they find a way to blame South Africa.

It works well with the British media.

Posted by Yuji9 on (March 11, 2013, 23:49 GMT)

The Australian selection panel is made up of Mickey Arthur, Michael Clarke and Gavin Dovey - Arthur never played a Test, he averaged under 35 with the bat in first class cricket, he coached South Africa with no success until Dale Steyn emerged - Gavin Dovey is an English, ex-Rugby Union Anti-Doping officer. How did Australian cricket get to the point where Baggy Green caps are being handed out by non Australian, non Test playing and now even by non cricketers. Clarke says the players showed a lack of respect to the coach but the coach has no experience therefore there is no basis for respect and every single member of the team has achieved more in the game than the so called coach! How can Test players be ordered around by a man who was never good enough to get to where they are at???? Utter madness and this is what happens when the wrong people, unqualified people are appointed to positions they do not deserve!

Posted by cabinet96 on (March 11, 2013, 23:30 GMT)

Wonderful. Very well said.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 23:26 GMT)

If all the old timers (Border, Warne, Gilchrist, Waugh, etc) think this is stupid - I'll take their thoughts over yours.

Posted by cricmatters on (March 11, 2013, 23:23 GMT)

Before you declare code red, you need to warn people that they need to improve. Even at any given workplace situation, you need to issue three written warning letters to any employee to lift their performance before sacking them. Any good coach should be able to sit down with a player and sort out these sort of issues much before they go out of hand. Taking such extreme measures erode the confidence and morale of the players. The coach's primary job is building trust and bonding between players to perform as a team instead of individuals. These sort of actions drive a wedge between players that may cause discontent giving birth to different factions within the team. This is definitely not an ideal preparation for Ashes. Australia will struggle to win a single test let alone the whole series against any good team in current climate of disharmony and abuse of power.

Posted by Harsha_Reddy on (March 11, 2013, 23:11 GMT)

Sorry Coverdale and Clarke.If there are standards set then why was it not followed in case of Pattinson that he was not fully fit and could only bowl 3 over spells....Clarke says it is not about individuals but how would a guy like mitchell johnson feel when your strike bowler can only bowl 3 over spells at expense of a fully fit johnson.... standards are not flexible to captains wishes.Its a good idea to ask for inputs from every player but it is baffling how this decision to ask players to present their views was made without even having VC as part of your team mgmt...It is very clear that watto was not part of team mgmt then y even name a VC?

Posted by Yuji9 on (March 11, 2013, 23:04 GMT)

FREE THE MOHALI 4!!! So a question for Indian cricket fans - How would you all have reacted if Greg Chappell had sacked four players right before a Test against Pakistan??? I seem to recall Chappell being quite shocked by the lack of discipline, lazy approaches to training and big egos that were affecting the performances of Team India when he came into that job - Yes Chappell tried to be a disciplinarian like Arthur and did the unthinkable in standing up to Prince Ganguly but I dont recall Indian fans enjoying the idea of a foreign coach coming into their team culture and dominating players - I seem to recall the BCCI supporting Ganguly as did the fans and Chappell lost his job - why not the same reaction against Arthur? Free the Mohali 4!!!

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 22:51 GMT)

Well I wanted Lehman to coach. I think it will happen in time for the ashes now. Just because your in crises does not mean things look up. When your 5th in the world your not in crises but when your third well thats a crises. When you lose to number 7 NZ thats no crises but losing to 5th thats terrible. Please some one explain

Posted by D.V.C. on (March 11, 2013, 22:49 GMT)

The punishment should always fit the crime. I don't believe in making an example of people. To me that just means punishing someone harshly for a minor infringement because you couldn't do your job and apply appropriate penalties earlier.

Posted by Yuji9 on (March 11, 2013, 22:46 GMT)

Sorry Byron but you've embarrassed yourself with this article - I cannot believe Coverdale is defending this - why ask the players for 3 bullet points I mean seriously what would their honest answers be : 1) No foreign coaches 2) No captain on selection committee 3) Can't win with poor squad in India and no quality spin ???? - Since when does that form of team-building exercise even work in office culture let alone sport? I mean the frustration must have been massive - It's clear that the players blame Arthur and his selection but then he has the gall to try to get them to blame themselves and impress him with their self analysis! This is classic mind game stuff from a bloke who seems more suited to a private school classroom than to cricket - This is about power - Arthur is trying to crush the dissenters but HE is the reason for bad attitudes on tour and he should resign immediately

Posted by sayedhasan on (March 11, 2013, 22:43 GMT)

Really Really disappointed with Mr UT Khewaja, While the other 3 could be excused fortheir fast bowlers/established players ego, who would probably get more opportunities to play for Australia, this was his golden/sole opportunity to play and cement his place, should have grabbed with both hands and ran with it. Inexcusable!

Posted by johnnynield on (March 11, 2013, 22:40 GMT)

initially thought, as a pom, that this was so funny. On reflection, I think the players are so much in the wrong. These players have been backed by the selection committee, despite everyone back home bandying loads of other names about. Watson's batting record wouldn't put him in the top 6 of many test sides, so he should be grateful for any chance to continue playing

Posted by Alexk400 on (March 11, 2013, 22:37 GMT)

Can someone get rid of mickey arthur? He is kinda weak in everything. He needs to earn respect. He has to think harder. Players has to just play. I bench players based on performance. Not on essay writing. There are people who can write better feedback and that look nice but that player not gona get you wickets or century. Pretty pathetic move by aussies

Posted by cricketforpeace on (March 11, 2013, 22:32 GMT)

From a management perspective,the decision taken by the coach is nothing short of disastrous.Yes,these four players did not toe the line as ordered. They needed to be pulled up.But,in this manner.The coach's action would have definitely a ripple effect amongst the remaining team members.These remaining members confidence is as it is low.Now,it would be ankle high.Uncertainity is added to this lack of confidence.Not really good whilst preparing for an overseas Test Match,specially when you are already 2 down.In my humble opinion, the coach could have served a show cause notice asking the erring players for an explanation.Or,decision could have been made after tour was completed.If the coach had power to kick players out on such grounds;then the Australian coach is a very powerful person. He has the ability to make or break careers.And too much power always corrupts.Lastly,the quantum of punishment should match the crime.It should not be arbitrary because arbitrary decisions spell doom.

Posted by Nerk on (March 11, 2013, 22:30 GMT)

Bobby Simpson did a similar thing in the Windies in 95. Now, if people didn't do the questionarre he made, he would have ticked them off personally. Taken them aside, said this is not good enough and worked them harder at training. Mickey Arthur and Michael Clarke on the other hand want to make a public example of these players. Put their heads on pikes as it were to affirm their own dominance within the team. Wrong way to do it. These players should have been taken aside, fined and made to do extra training. Keep it in the team. Make a public example of them, and you only serve disunity, creating factions within Australian cricket as a whole.

Posted by SnowSnake on (March 11, 2013, 22:27 GMT)

Let's face it. All this shaking up is hardly to improve Australian Cricket but it is to show that coach and selectors are doing their job so that they can save their own jobs from getting sacked. I am sure Australian players are upset and last thing they need is all this pressure coming from coach and administrators. By putting pressure on players and removing them in the middle of the series administrators are only making things worse.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 22:09 GMT)

@ anuajm 'probably get you a draw if not a win'? The evidence of two thrashings and team members (vice-captain!) who can't be bothered to do one little thing to improve suggests otherwise. Time to go back to the days when wearing the baggy green was considered an honour.

Posted by katandthat3 on (March 11, 2013, 22:02 GMT)

No problem with handing out discipline but the severity of it is over the top. Before I blame the players like this article starts off I'd like to put the Australian Team management, Selectors and CA in the gun sights. They didn't help with picking a totally unbalanced squad and now are 2-0 down. They had opportunities to give better prep for players but it's been totally scattershot throughout the Australian summer, not just this series. I question management for dolphin kissing exercises like 'Wellbeing' reports to be filled out each day, I'd imagine it would get you down after a while, all this PC crap and micromanagement would just add to the suffocation of the bubble the players are already in. How about work hard in the nets, pick your best 6 bats, then best 4 bowlers and a keeper. Burn player fatigue indexes, when they get injured bring in the next best. Players are trying their best but they have been burnt by management. I imagine it used to be fun to play for Australia.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 21:58 GMT)

"This is not 1993, it's 2013. This is the modern, ultra-professional era. With big salaries and contracts come responsibilities.". That is utter tripe. The 1993 team might have lacked some of what we call professionalism, but then what we call professionalism today has very little to do with responsibility . The 1993 team were very good because they had talent, and the determination to scrap it out when the talent didn't suffice. They might or might not have completed this "task" that arthur has assigned his team, but they in no way lacked responsibility. To suggest otherwise is preposterous, specially to those who have seen these former players play with grit and flair. This whole makes arthur look like someone who, having very little idea of what playing cricket is all about, blindly imposes some magic mantras formulated by some "management guru" on his team. Being a cricket fan, this is just another step towards corporatisation of cricket, and that pains me.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 21:52 GMT)

Disagree entirely with the thrust of this article. If the punishment is because the coach didn't get the three points from each of these players (two of whom hadn't even played), then it shows a failure in the coaching staff...if they honestly think 12 dot points are going to turn the team around, time for the entire coaching staff to be replaced. If the punishment is about attitude and "buy-in", then it's a leadership failure...attitude reflects leadership, and if Clarke hasn't been able to impose enough discipline and pride in this team to get them to respond appropriately, then the failure rests with him.

When Clarke was appointed Captain I was sceptical, but he'd managed to turn me around with his on-field performance. Now, he's back with his Gen-Y management approach to a game that requires Leadership, at this crucial time most of all. Instead of asking for powerpoint presentations or emails, he should be asking one thing: WWSWD*?

(* What would Steve Waugh do?)

Posted by Bonglim on (March 11, 2013, 21:48 GMT)

Well done team Oz. One of the hardest decision a management team has to make, but it will pay off in the long run.

As for the players I think they need to look up professional. There are many sportsmen/ women who get paid less, who have the correct attitude. Look at the british track cycling team, they ALL buy into the team ethos, they ALL do their homework and they ALL follow the advice of the medical teams. Unsurprisingly they all have shiny medals.

The former players need to tow the line or keep their mouths shut, they are not helping. Well played Mark Waugh for sticking his neck above the parapet.

Posted by Don_The_Green on (March 11, 2013, 21:44 GMT)

"If you don't learn from this mistake, then you never will" - That sums it all up perfectly. If players do not want to better themselves, then its better they were out of the side.

Posted by SRK666 on (March 11, 2013, 21:44 GMT)

Brendan Wilson is right. This is just overzealous managerialism, and it's a bad way to foster constructive relationships between players + coaches, and a bad way to cultivate strong team morale.

It's pretty damning of the coaching staff that the only "transgressions" named so far have to do with writing down some bullet points and filling out wellness forms. If there were more serious failings of team discipline, I suspect we'd hear about it, given the public backlash.

"They are professionals" --- yes, they are professional cricketers, and they should be judged and held accountable for how well they perform as cricketers, not for how well they perform at fulfilling various bureaucratic tasks concerning how they perform as cricketers.

Maybe the players should ask the coaches to take their places in the side, and when the coaches don't make runs/take wickets, the coaches can be sacked.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 21:43 GMT)

I may not agree with the harshness of the punishment, but I admire how seriously the Australians are taking just 2 big defeats. The Indian team in England and Australia lost 4-0 and it took a whole year and a change in selection panels for heads to roll. I guess it's why Australia has developed a winning culture after all these years whereas India has always promised but never consistently achieved the top ranking. It's a cultural thing, and Indian cricket culture does not seem to be team performance-based.

Posted by Andre2 on (March 11, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

Even with the best team spirit in the world, THIS Australian squad would have lost in India. All this saga shows that, except Clarke, there are no GIANT cricketer in the current Australian squad and that Australia is slowing going back into the rank, at the 4th position ... Watson should be very happy : he will be father very soon and has gained the liberty to play cricket where he likes, earning big money on T20. Well done Mssrs Clarke and Arthur !

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 21:04 GMT)

Terribly misguided article. You have no idea what the fans want or need. They certainly don't need our second stringers trying to save a series because coach, captain and whoever that other leadership guy is want to stamp themselves on the 'culture'. The team culture has and always will be changing. One fit doesn't suit all and great personnel managers know this. Goodbye Clarke and Arthur.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 21:02 GMT)

I would say if 4 of 16 didn't do this, maybe management didn't make clear instructions. I also find it odd that Clarke (remember the Simon Katich song incident) is now such a stickler for rules. If he really wanted to lead his men, why didn't he go to bat for them.

On the reasons the team failed so badly, has management looked at themselves?

The rotation policy has been mentioned, removing Watson from opening where he and Warner were doing so well, great lineup picks first 2 games.

At a time the team probably needed stability, seems the coach and the captain where looking for new scapegoats rather than finding ways of rebuilding.

Good luck on that Mickey and Mike..

Posted by Agni_25 on (March 11, 2013, 20:56 GMT)

Whatever the article says, this act from a national coach is childish...He could have met with individual players and could have a friendly chat, that will help the players to improve their game. This doen't help a mentally wounded team. Arthur did a pure Rubbish job.

Posted by ygkd on (March 11, 2013, 20:52 GMT)

The fact that attitude is non-negotiable is a start. But I would also add skill. "Talent" and fitness alone is not enough.

Posted by Funplexhead on (March 11, 2013, 20:47 GMT)

How is this decision going to improve team morale when the team is underperforming? Shaming the 'culprits' publicly is not helpful and now Australia has lost its best bowler and vice captain. Honestly, there are more tactful ways to instill discipline to a team that is not homogeneous, such as employing better man management in the form of speaking to players individually or in groups and asking them about how they think they and the team can improve over a beer.

Team management should realise that individuals within a team employ their own methods in getting the job done. Some may like to inform management in writing, some may like to speak in person, some may prefer the coach/captain to approach them and ask them directly. Some may prefer to listen intently and demonstrate what they know on the field. Everyone's different. It's not a question of punishing players for not meeting standards, it's a question of getting the best out of individuals and instilling confidence in them.

Posted by Chris_P on (March 11, 2013, 20:39 GMT)

Finally, someone who has a realistic thought process on the whole saga. The players have an obligation via the contract they signed to receive all that money to follow management directives. Why didn't they? Are they above everyone else including their captain? This was a team directive, "team" being the operative word. You know, the "one in, all in" reference. Great write-up, Brydan.

Posted by mzm149 on (March 11, 2013, 20:37 GMT)

What if 7 instead of 4 players had not turned in their assignments? Had the match been called off? How about all 4 players were batsmen or all were bowlers? Would they have gone with imbalanced side? How about coach should submit such essays to his bosses as well or he will be sacked too? I wish the 4 players were Maxwell, Hughes, Doherty and Wade.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 20:34 GMT)

I can only begin to imagine the sledging the Aussie players are going to get for this. It will still be being dished out by the time they turn up for the Ashes. These actions (although somewhat baffling) will be diminished if Arthur is a good man manager. Ruling by fear is no way to rule. It might work for a while but over long periods it wont bring success.

Perhaps he should look at the players he has on offer. For as the old saying goes, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Posted by Kanzis on (March 11, 2013, 20:33 GMT)

The cynical side of me wonders as well how much of the up-roar from former players is driven by the fact that Mickey Arthur is not an Aussie? The whole "he doesn't understand how Australian cricket works we need a true-blue aussie in charge" idea? Just a thought anyways i know a few people were not chuffed with his appointment

Posted by deegowd on (March 11, 2013, 20:32 GMT)

I agree with some of your points Byron, but a coach's job is not to monitor and assess the team. A captain doesn't just call the toss. A good captain would have seen this coming. But hey, if you are not on 'beer-terms' with your best all-rounder and cannot spare a few minutes to talk to your deputy (instead of asking him to submit a presentation) you in my books are not one. He may be the best player on the team and best performer on the tour, but he ain't no great captain. Imagine Clive Lloyd asking Malcolm or Joel to submit a report like that? As for Mickey, he has seen quite a few dressing rooms. He should have been a adult among the kids. But no. That's too much to ask for. How can a 'great coach' stoop to the level of having a informal chit-chat with a player who refuses to send me a report or fill his daily pee sheet? This episode tells me, that neither Mickey nor Pup are up to the job. Aus need a real human and not someone who works off of a cheat-sheet as their coach and cap

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 20:31 GMT)

Poor attempt to placate the situation!!!

So what happened when Faulkner swore in the face of Gayle, an incident that was captured on National Television and replayed several times?? Small fine??

So what happened when Maxwell yelled abuse at SL Players, an incident that was captured on National Television and replayed several times?? Nothing??

Australia has a Captain that can't Captain, a Coach that can't Coach and, it appears to me, a Selection Panel that are forced to select from a group of substandard players that include a keeper who can't keep, bowlers who can't bowl and batsmen who simply cannot handle the conditions.

What did you expect this group to write??

Pattinson - I will bowl faster, I will bowl harder and, when I get 2-wickets in 3-overs, maybe Clarke should keep me on.

Johnson - I can bat, I can bowl, I can field!!

Khawaja - Pick me!! Pick me!! PLEEEASE pick me!!

This is politics, and anyone who thinks that MA did this without MJC's OK is kidding themselves.

Posted by Kanzis on (March 11, 2013, 20:30 GMT)

I think you've hit the nail on the head here. There is obviously more to it than this one incident, however as you rightly point out as a professional you have responsibilities. It is a team game and that includes those members not playing, everyone has to add value to the collective cause. In this day and age of pre-Madonna sports people this is a timely reminder that there is no one bigger than the team, Sir Alex is very good at reminding players that and is he criticized?? he has a pretty handy record to back up his methods which include reminding team members exactly that, they are members of the team and to succeed they all need to pull in the same direction no matter the task.

Posted by Ezhil-Dxb on (March 11, 2013, 20:29 GMT)

Partly agree, partly not...

On the aspects of the team spirit and attitude, I fully agree. Every one should be pulling together in the same direction and with commitment.

But i felt the expected task and the punishment are disproportionate. Coach asking for ideas and feedback is fine but punishing for lack of feedback is drastic indeed. Maybe there were other offenses these players committed. If Arthur has asked Watson to bat at no.5 and he refused then he needs to be sacked since he is only bothered about his position and not the overall team benefit.

In my opinion, in a team sport, the core job of a player is to play and train well and as per instructions from captain / coach. And the core job of a captain / coach is to plan, train, coach and execute with the available players. Punishing a player for a task not in their domain is too harsh.

The message sent is right and it has been sent strongly but the reasons are a bit over the top.

Posted by Reececonrad on (March 11, 2013, 20:28 GMT)

I do not agree with this, look they should have done what the coach asked and they should have made an effort, but they are international cricketers they are men not children if you want them to talk about what went wrong in the test sit them down individually and ask them. Dropping a player for such a mundane matter is very harsh let alone 4(including your top wicket taker and Vice captain). Watson has gone through a very difficult time, he has tried his best to make a big impact for his county going through years and years of injuries and he is awarded a suspension for some a tiny thing, he has been one of the most consistent played in the last 3 years. Usman and Mitch weren't even in the two games? The team does come first but this decision, was it really done in the best intensions for the team because now India have been handed a team with 2 paceman, a few okay to mediocre spinners and 4 specialist batsmen...

Posted by ygkd on (March 11, 2013, 20:27 GMT)

I"m writing this without knowing who has been sacked, although one appears to be Watson. In that respect, what I say is largely unbiased by personal favouritism. It's a tough stance, but a correct one. If you want to be a professional, act like one. There is always a lot of talk about talent. At the footy club I support, there are three highly-talented young blokes in the guts of the team that get talked about a lot. One is captain, the other is vice-captain and the third is more of a wild-child. The "talent" word probably gets bandied around more for the third than it maybe should. After all, actually delivering on your talent is a talent in itself, and he doesn't always do that. Hopefully, he'll get better as he matures, if he doesn't run foul of the coach too many times before that happens. The club can afford to give him time - he's only one player in a side of twenty-two. Here, though, we're talking about four players in an XI. You can't cut that much slack. So you just sack.

Posted by AjaySridharan on (March 11, 2013, 20:26 GMT)

I have a simple question. Did the coach send them a reminder email?! We in the business world have to routinely do it. More often than not, you have to send reminders so that it stays on top of people's agenda. Especially when this is the first time you have ever asked the players to do something like this. If he truly cared to hear everyone's opinions, it wouldn't have hurt him to send a reminder. To wait till the very end and can the guys reeks of a low quality man-management technique. What were you most interested int - hearing their thoughts or showing who the boss was?!

Posted by attilathecricketer on (March 11, 2013, 20:18 GMT)

A brave, sterling defence of Oz management but I suspect such actions fit Oz team even less well than they would suit the English team. Punishment did not fit the reported crime as well. Still we Poms have had a good laugh.

Posted by Chicagoan76 on (March 11, 2013, 20:16 GMT)

Do not believe the story being told by Clarke and Arthur. And dont think the reprimanded players will tell the story either because of fear of repercussions. Disgrace.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 20:11 GMT)

I think Australian management is doing something just to show that they are doing something!!

Posted by OupaJohn on (March 11, 2013, 20:09 GMT)

Mr Coverdale, you usually write balanced, thoughtful, and thought provoking articles. This one merely scores on being provoking. Support only for management in this situation is really not balanced. Corporate management, and even sports management, does not dismiss some of its best human assets for a lapse, especially if the consequences have not been fully communicated. The action taken by the Oz leadership is unlikely to build team commitment. It may elicit obedience, but obedience and respect are not the same thing. It will take a while for this to blow over, and I hazard a guess that the long-term results will not be the positive ones you predict. Team management is not about high-handed authority. It is about mutual respect. Respect and commitment are not earned by a coach and captain who cannot manage successfully the submission of a response by sending a little reminder, or putting a hand on a shoulder with a word that the exercise is to be taken seriously. For shame!

Posted by Ammy_rd on (March 11, 2013, 20:00 GMT)

Imagine Andy Flower asking the English team to write an essay on why England failed against Pakistan in UAE. The answer to such a question which is a UNIVERSAL TRUTH is not to be given by the players, but the coaching staff and team management well before the start rather than the middle of a tour. Instead of being accountable themselves, the Australian team management are letting the rubble down on players who have very little to do with the whole mess. The question to be asked of Australian team management and CA in particular is that why didn't they employ the services of a high quality spin bowling coach well ahead of this tour? We can all see the wonders Mushtaq Ahmad has done with the English batsmen and bowlers alike. It also exposes Australia's defeatist mindset towards the outcome of this tour. Its almost like they have resigned to the fact that this tour is already lost so why risk disciplinary action against players during the coveted ASHES!

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 19:54 GMT)

I thought Pattinson did contribute and buy in, you know how he took wickets and that... So it's more about doing schoolwork for the coach (doing his job for him, surely...) than contributing on the field. Do what the captain and coach tell you, and your place is safe in the team. Mickey Arthur (and Brydon) a message for you: learn from the England and Kevin Pietersen debacle. It was pathetic, but eventually the management realised that you win matches by playing your best players, not by going all out on backstage politics. Has Mickey Arthur been doing some 'thinking' on that front? Doesn't look like it...

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 19:52 GMT)

Well written and clearly put. As coach and captain I would have done the same. You have been given the chance to contribute, to make a positive statement about how things can and should change after an embarrassing loss, and in four whole days you can't put 3 points on paper?! Oh, come on, if that's the level of commitment you have to the your team, and to your country, you don't deserve to play!! People say that players should be treated as adults and professionals, and not schoolboys, but aren't these players just behaving like careless under sixes? Right call made! Watch Australia play with a totally different attitude and with a lot more grit in the next game, despite having many star performers on the sidelines.

Posted by NixNixon on (March 11, 2013, 19:52 GMT)

I am a SAFFA an also a big Micheal Clarke fan, he is a professional and one of the most talented cricketers the world have seen. And looking at this whole story I will have to back Clarke, he is a smart cricketer and someone who plays for australia with pride - nobody can say he has never given his best and I think what has happened here is there are players not proud enough and who do not care enough - because if you do then you will take small things like the "homework" serious - because you care. If Gary asked the South Africans to do something similiar , steyn or however would not have pulled these stunts because they care about the team and being number one. I think people should trust Micheal Clarke's assessment of the situation - he is the captain and a proud aussie. Obviously a lot goes on behind the scenes and the disrespect someone like pattinson showed a legend like G Smith in the recent test series down under just showed me about his character

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 19:47 GMT)

What a brilliant article. I read as much as I can about this great game, and like to think I have a pretty fair knowledge of the game. This article gets right to the point. Bravo Brydon. Well done! You have told it like it is.

Posted by Cricket316 on (March 11, 2013, 19:35 GMT)

Too many Cooks in the Kitchen for Ozs. And they are going nowhere. Yes, Test Cricket demands alot of Temperament from you, but these guys have done better(if not more) than others. I disagree about axeing. Patto,the only guy who looked like taking Wickets for Oz,gone. Johnson-Khwaja, these guys were picked to PLAY for the Team.One thing,if they played badly n got axed.Did they play? Selecting them and then Axe them without even testing them once, Thats Unprofessionalism.Watto has been an Opener all his career,but he had to bat at 4, because Clarke was not "Comfortable" at 4.I was expecting the 4 players to play the next game.Boy, was I wrong

If this Axing was solely performance based,then by that logic,Cowan,Hughes, Warner,Maxwell, Wade,Lyon should be gone by now.Clarke is trying to be the Captain,the Selector, the Coach & the Dictator. This is not Tough Love, this will do demoralize the Players. Yes,it Modern Day Cricket, but booting the players without concrete reasons, Illogical !

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 19:35 GMT)

if the coach was doing his job and actually communicating with the players as individuals, finding out what they think and feel and working out the best way to motivate them to play their best game he wouldn't need them to fill out report cards. Think Micky Arthur has shot himself in the foot. Scapegoating players isn't the solution. They picked the wrong lineup to play on Indian wickets

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 19:34 GMT)

Brydon, your article starts by saying the judgement of the players was poor on-field. How about applying that to the management off the field?

Put yourself in the position of Mitchell Starc. You do the training. You do the work off the pitch. You do it on the pitch. You end up missing games because of rotation.

Put yourself in the position of Nathan Lyon. You get told you're the senior spinner. You do the hard work. You have one bad game and then you're demoted behind a left-arm nothing and a part-time limited overs thing.

Put yourself in the position of Rob Quiney. You're used as cannon fodder to protect Phil Hughes against South Africa. You then get dumped when the wimpy Sri Lankan seamers come calling.

Now do you think all four of those players think the management is good?

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 19:33 GMT)

how could i say that this has been the most TO-THE-POINT and Direct attack on the current situation. I do feel sorry for Mitch J (coz he is my personal fav) but that doesn't make me condemn the decision. It may pretty well be an heads up for everybody and things going forward wont be taken for granted. Although loss of Watto (if he chooses to) would be a big big blow :(

Posted by sanyam_kamat on (March 11, 2013, 19:25 GMT)

Really happy to finally read an article which actually tells how and why this all thing was needed. Its very easy to go with flow and pass funny/cliche comments on the coach and captain. With all the worse things going around, with the team losing badly these players were assuming not writing 3 points isn't that bad at all. It serves them right for not respecting the baggy green. I really appreciate Cricinfo/author for putting this perspective of the incident.(which by now around more than 1300 people agree with)

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 19:22 GMT)

Agree with the author that this is a turning point but down and not up. The author talks about the matter in simplistic terms of failing to hand in homework but he misses the point. Unfortunately this incident reveals that there are deep divisions and factions within the Australian team which are going to be exacerbated by the current incident. Even if everyone is doing their homework and toeing the line, division will kill the team ethos. The Vice-captain is on a plane home, speaks volumes about the cliques in the team.

Posted by zeus_kris on (March 11, 2013, 19:22 GMT)

This is ridiculous. Two of the players (Khawaja & Mitch) didn't even play a test this tour. What are they supposed to write on how to make the team better? I think they were axed just to make sure that Hughes & Siddle can remain in the team. Selectors & Clarke are doing this just to keep their favorites in the team. Watson is just collateral damage in this farce, and it didn't matter to them as he was not scoring runs. I hope that Hughes & Siddle fail once again in Mohali to showcase their real worthlessness. What will the selectors do then?

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 19:21 GMT)

Look, the way I see it, a tour to India with just one world-class performer was always going to be a big ask. To ask the inexperienced players to completely turn around things after what happened in the first two test matches is asking too much. England were successful in India because player for player they were far superior to India and their spinners were world class. Australia don't have that luxury. To ask the players to write an essay on how to improve their performance as an individual and as a team is downright stupid. If anything, there should have been a discussion with the entire team about improving the performance rather than asking each and everyone individually.

It just seems that Mickey Arthur has way too much power than he should be having. The captain is always the boss. It seems in Australia's case it's Mickey who is calling the shots. Mickey is just destroying the confidence of these wonderful cricketers ahead of the back-to-back Ashes series.

Posted by anilkp on (March 11, 2013, 19:19 GMT)

Brydon, I fully understand the pedagogical importance of the task that was handed out, and that it was fairly simple. Fine with your second paragraph; but is not the coach paid to do this? You say the players are earning hundreds of thousands, so is the coach. Why would he thrust his headache on the players? A coach is a teacher. Right? Then why did not he nudge the players Sat night; instead, why did he wait until Monday? So that he could simply spell out the punishment? He could have reached out to the players, too! What good is a teacher who waits to punish his wards? Simple: if the players are expected to do all the thinking, all the running, all the bowling/batting/fielding and everything, why do you have a coach? The support staff? Besides, players like Khawaja, who had no role to play in the defeats or otherwise, is it not ridiculous to ask them how they can improve? I am sorry, but this was a terrible mess that could have been handled differently--in a team meeting.

Posted by big_al_81 on (March 11, 2013, 19:13 GMT)

Now that is what I'd love to have been given space to say. A beautifully simple means of making a powerful point. Maybe the actual punishment is too harsh, maybe not, but the players have to take responsibility and absolutely none of the ex-pros have apportioned any blame to the players for failing to do what was essentially a very simple task. Great writing and gutsy too given there torrent of nonsense coming from other quarters. Brydon Coverdale sometimes singlehandedly gives me some faith in Cricinfo's regular writing team.

Posted by Faizan_Bahadur on (March 11, 2013, 19:12 GMT)

Seriously Brydon!!!you really think soo???Lets see how Australia turn things on from here.The way I see it is CA always had something to cover up their stupid decisions when players like Warne,Ponting n Hussey were there.Like the way they treated Hodge,Katich,Symonds.Look what they did with Quiney.Simply made him a scape goat for Hughes.No wonder Hughes is performing superbly. I m actually happy to see CA in this situation.Its time to pay for some stupid decisions.

Posted by cric_follower on (March 11, 2013, 19:10 GMT)

Very well expressed. The Indian team should take a cue from it.

Posted by PatrickBour on (March 11, 2013, 19:09 GMT)

Well said mate. Totally agree. Complete professionalism and commitment is required from this bunch because, unfortunately for them, they don't have the natural talent and track record of those who've recently gone before them. No leniency on attitude if you're losing.

Posted by blink182alex on (March 11, 2013, 19:08 GMT)

I'm afraid this isn't going to help us out on this tour. We now have just 12 players available for selection, out of those 12 we have 2 batsmen who are good test players, 3 batsmen that are not good enough, a couple of all rounders who are very lucky to be in the squad, a keeper who has had no chance to adjust to conditions, 1 spinner who was dropped because of technical problems, another spinner who is an average limited overs bowler at best, and a couple of quicks that have lacked penetration and been completely out bowled by our best bowler Pattinson.

I am an aussie fan living in England, and i am completely embarrassed at the set up and coaching.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 19:05 GMT)

I still think it was an overly harsh decision. The team will suffer as a whole. If AUS win the ashes then this will he hailed as a master stroke, if they lose...then its a field day for the media. Arthur and clarke will be cannon fodder. My money's on England :)

Posted by Patrick_ on (March 11, 2013, 19:02 GMT)

When the team is down in confidence, skill and morale, axeing the inform player (Pattinson) does seem abnormal for me. There should be punishment, but banning the best available players certainly does not seem right to me. Certainly not in the middle of the series. Unless there is some serious indiscipline that we are not aware of, this act seems frivolous.

Posted by RockcityGuy on (March 11, 2013, 19:01 GMT)

Well said Brydon..!:-) As the Good Book says, "Spare the rod, spoil the child."

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 18:58 GMT)

At the sound of it looks a very harsh punishment - specially when the team is losing. But on the other hand this sends out a strong message if you don't fall in line you will be left out. Do or Die for Australia haan. Also this is exactly what kills the tournament for a team. More the time team spends giving statements and explanations to the media the more they lose. They lose focus and I am sure Clarke will not make more than 30 runs in Mohali - both innings combined. Same thing happened to India in last England series. After the first test only thing Dhoni did was media presentation in return of demanding a turning pitch - fights with curator, past cricketers, and all. Result India lost the series 2-1. Australia is heading towards the same fate. Being an India I still hope Australia gives a good fight and the matches are worth a watch.

Posted by ramli on (March 11, 2013, 18:58 GMT)

For argument sake ... if 10 of the players had not responded ... it would have been gross indiscipline ... but surely sacking would not have happened ... matter would have been sorted in-house thro dialogue ... so why blow your top at four players ... why not have a quiet word with them and try and resolve it ... failing which drop them ... all this tamasha ...

Posted by ObjectiveCricketism on (March 11, 2013, 18:47 GMT)

Mickey Arthur has made Australian cricket a laughing stock with his silly rotation policy, strange team selections, and now this extraordinary axing of four players for failing to tell him what he should be telling them. The man seems incompetent and should be sacked before he does more damage. I do not know what current Australian cricketers think of Mr. Arthur in their hearts. But I cannot imagine former Australian cricketers taking kindly to a coach who treats professional cricketers like children.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 18:39 GMT)

Vigorous defense of action taken, Bryan Coverdale! Perhaps you should have called the media not Micky Arthur or Michael Clarke. All the actions that were taken - making players sit out a match - could have been done quietly. Even if that does not work, you could have gone public. You are saying they all can be considered for the last Test. No caveats there? So what if they remain unrepentant? How are you sure? Okay they have not turned in their reports. Can't you call them in and ask? At least two of them are fairly new to Test squads. And one has not even played here. Don't you think it is going a little over the top? What is your ultimate goal? Build a strong team that performs well all the time against all opposition, I guess. Will shaming 4 players in public help? Isnt that already done by the huge defeats? Do you seriously believe that attitude alone s the problem? How about skill and technique? The bottleneck is at the top of the bottle said Peter Drucker. Reflect on that!

Posted by baskar_guha on (March 11, 2013, 18:34 GMT)

Mr Coverdale - It is not that the four players shouldn't bother responding but the punishment doesn't fit the crime -- it is like sending someone to 1 year in jail for changing lines without signaling. In effect, this matter has now been blown up by the very public axing to such proportions that the Australian team has to be reconstructed from scratch likely with a new coach and potentially a new captain. Is that what the coach wanted or the captain wanted? If so, a simple letter of resignation would have sufficed. Bottom line is this is poor man management. Just ask your boss, Mr Coverdale.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 18:33 GMT)

Never expected such thing would ever happen with oz team...agree with writer about modern cricket, big pay and responsibilities...i wanted to see how would khwaja play in india...guess i will have to wait a bit now

Posted by Hamayoun on (March 11, 2013, 18:32 GMT)

Excellent article, puts everything into context. I can think of two analogies. First, if this was not a cricket team but a corporate team, the punishment would have been much harsher. Test Cricketers are generally paid much more than those of us who work in corporations, so if anything they should be held more accountable. Second, back in the day there was a English football manager called Brian Clough, know for being ultra strict with his players off the field. This strictness led to a great deal of success for the clubs he managed.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 18:28 GMT)

I'm with you on this Mickey Arthur. Attitude is a basic attribute. Go on Shane Watson, throw the toys out. Sounds like you're going to have some company in that regard. Usman Khawaja is one who came in day before yesterday and obviously has a problem being a team man. Good to see Michael Clarke come out in support. Clear the deck guys if you want to come back on top. This is a lesson for other teams, who will remain nameless, as well.

Posted by tomjas on (March 11, 2013, 18:24 GMT)

I thought that Pattinson had bought into it by taking wickets on flat decks in stifling heat with no support.

Silly me!

Posted by mvcric on (March 11, 2013, 18:21 GMT)

Desperate times for Australian cricket, I guess. We even need a whole article justifying a clearly over the top reaction by the coach.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 18:21 GMT)

sorry Brydon. You are dead wrong on this one. Writing a synopsis on how you failed is a corporate strategy aimed to embarrass and humiliate. It smacks of negative practice; a call for compliance. A paternal demand to obey the system and to humble oneself to its will. The captain and coach are in their respective roles to promote team spirit not corporate idealism.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 18:21 GMT)

Absolutely spot on Brydon. The likes of Martyn, Lehmann and Moody have missed the point completely.

You can't have 75%, 85% or 95% discipline. You either have it totally or you don't have it at all.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 18:17 GMT)

Very well said, Brydon. If one can not fulfill a simple enough task then how can he take the responsibility of winning a test match. The team ethics are at stake here... if you don't care then you're out. Period.

Posted by shahid6995 on (March 11, 2013, 18:15 GMT)

So, Mr Coverdale, have you any thoughts of your OWN on this matter or did the coach, captain and the PR people give you the whole article to publish and you just agreed to be their mouthpiece? Because that is obviously what this article reads like, not an editorial comment from Cricinfo. Way to "go to bat" for the people under fire.

Posted by cyborg909 on (March 11, 2013, 18:13 GMT)

If as per coach and captain things were sliding why they didn't address this before? Sorry don't buy the argument. Your argument actually show coach & team management have been dropping the ball they should have addressed the issue long ago they let things slide and then brought hammer. Nope dun agree sorry

Posted by mumbaiguy79 on (March 11, 2013, 18:08 GMT)

I think this the only piece I have seen that makes sense on this whole saga. Great stuff Brydon.

Posted by jagwoodbridge on (March 11, 2013, 18:04 GMT)

Sure it may have been a small task and easy for them to do, but the point isn't that they should not have been punished, it's the severity of the punishment. This is a vein attempt for the leadership group to stamp their authority on the team and it sends the wrong message to the players. That is, your spot is safe as long as you do what we tell you, performance on the field has got nothing to do with it.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 18:00 GMT)

Totally agree with this piece!

Posted by DalesGuy on (March 11, 2013, 17:57 GMT)

Though I initially felt that the punishment was way over the board, this article successfully defends the stance taken by the coach and the captain.

Posted by harshlse on (March 11, 2013, 17:55 GMT)

Really, really sounds like the management wanted to roll some heads, and that's that.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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