Daniel Brettig
Assistant editor, ESPNcricinfo

Australia news

Arthur let down by coach-killers

Australia's problematic cricketers overwhelmed Mickey Arthur, just as they did his former assistant Lachlan Stevens last summer

Daniel Brettig

June 25, 2013

Comments: 57 | Text size: A | A

Mickey Arthur during a press conference, Bristol, June 24, 2013
Mickey Arthur gave no excuses on Monday, but his fall had its genesis in the repeated failures of the players he placed his faith in © Getty Images
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Mickey Arthur's downfall was eerily foretold last summer. In Western Australia, the state he had coached in 2011 along the road to the national team appointment, Arthur's former assistant Lachlan Stevens was removed as coach after a succession of disciplinary problems and poor displays that culminated in the Perth Scorchers' now infamous Twenty20 Champions League misadventures.

A solid citizen with no great playing record to speak of but a reputation for decency, Stevens worked assiduously to follow through on Arthur's plans to revitalise a team that had not won a domestic trophy since 2004, and developed an infamous culture of indiscipline in the interim. But his authority was eroded, at one level by heedless players but at another by an association that was reluctant to side with the little-known Stevens against the higher paid and higher profile cricketers under his watch.

Eventually it was decided that Stevens would be replaced by Justin Langer, the revered WA figure who was quickly able to inspire his players while also imbuing them with a healthy sense of respect for the coach. This was as much for his playing career and reputation as anything he would be able to tell them in a team meeting. Sound familiar?

When Stevens departed before the end of 2012 he did so without too much rancour or publicly expressed anger. He has now found a sturdy job within the far sturdier Tasmanian setup. But it was telling that soon after his return home to Queensland, Stevens started a blog called "Sporting Exile" and commenced by listing "50 Things We Love About Sport", almost as though he needed reminding of why it was lovable. Flying back to Australia alone, Arthur could no doubt relate.

"Coach-killer" was not among the 50 things. It is a term popularised in American and Australian football, and refers to players of considerable talent and skill who fail to step up to the role their coach prescribes for them. Once results have deteriorated so badly that administrators removed from the fray decide that things must change, the choice between the coach doing his level best and the high profile players flattering to deceive seldom falls in favour of the mentor.

Whatever Arthur insisted while speaking bravely and without excuses in Bristol on Monday, there can be no mistake his rapid and unprecedented exit from the Australian team, on the very day the Ashes tour bus was loading up for the trip to Taunton, had its genesis in the repeated failures of players he had invested enormous time and faith in.

This was by no means a victory for player power over an unpopular martinet. Instead it was the natural conclusion to a saga of mediocrity, ineptitude and dishonesty perpetrated by the highest paid group of cricketers Australia have ever had. All would have felt culpable in some way or another for Arthur's exit on Monday, and all have reason to. Some more than others.

 
 
"It was the natural conclusion to a saga of mediocrity, ineptitude and dishonesty perpetrated by the highest paid group of cricketers Australia have ever had. All would have felt culpable in some way or another for Arthur's exit on Monday, and all have reason to."
 

David Warner should be pondering why it is Arthur flying out of the country and not himself. It is not an easy question to answer. The punch hurled at Joe Root after a dreadfully poor decision to be out with a group of players he should have been advising to stay in was the latest in a series of betrayals that dates back to overseas tours of the West Indies and England in 2012. Arthur had rated Warner so highly he encouraged his development as a potential leader. But the extra seniority was taken advantage of, so much so that Arthur would impose a curfew on Warner later in the year.

How often the curfew was faithfully adhered to can only be guessed at, but by the time of this year's IPL Warner was telling Arthur and others that he was not drinking at all, when those players actually in India needed only venture down to the hotel bar to be certain that was not the case. The Twitter fiasco soon followed. Finally Birmingham confirmed that for Warner, Arthur was no longer a source of fruitful advice like the stance adjustment before his 2011 Hobart hundred but a ponderous schoolmaster, there primarily to run deceitful rings around.

Shane Watson also has reason for introspection. Not so much for the kind of indiscipline shown by Warner as for an utter failure to step into the jobs Arthur thought him capable of. When the name of Jacques Kallis was bandied about by Arthur to indicate the influence Watson could have it was not a blithe display of faith - the belief in Watson's ability was genuine. At another time Arthur said he would have "failed as a coach" if Watson did not start making regular Test hundreds. As it turned out Watson, so wrapped up in debates over his best role, T20 duties and differences with the captain Michael Clarke, did not score a single one with Arthur in charge.

Lastly, there is the burden of guilt on Clarke's shoulders. Clarke had initially advocated Steve Rixon's promotion from fielding coach, following their history with New South Wales. But when Arthur was chosen the pair built up a decent relationship, the turning point for which would be the exits of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey.

Privately, Arthur was desperate not to lose either from the team before the Ashes; Clarke was much less perturbed. Arthur's judgement would be proved the sounder, when the loss of the two senior men could not be adequately covered in any sense. The recall of Brad Haddin, another to have his qualities warmly espoused by Arthur in times of vulnerability, was a belated admission of the earlier error.

Clarke, preoccupied with his back trouble and the need to score runs, was not around often enough to maintain order. Arthur, lacking the support provided by Ponting and Hussey, was not considered heavyweight enough by some players to enforce it. And so Mohali happened, and the 4-0 hiding by India, and the horrid Champions Trophy campaign, and the Walkabout. Arthur would be held to account, and his job handed over to a former Australian Test player in Lehmann. Why? Ask Lachlan Stevens.

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

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Posted by Banscolt on (June 30, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

@Paul Boizot: Clarke's back has been a recurring problem and flares up just when he is badly needed. As a captain he has been a complete failure too. He needs to call it a day and take good care of his back which may become crippling later. Don't go by what the media says because most of them are writing for money and don't give a damn about any team including their own. Watson will be the right choice because he catches the bull by the horns or else bring back Ponting. If England could select Brearley only for his Captaincy skills and if Australia could recall Bobby Simpson from the grave (almost) then why not Ponting while he still has the fire burning? A big, difficult problem requires firm strong decisions. Dithering won't help.

Posted by neonblaze on (June 27, 2013, 8:34 GMT)

Hey, anybody recall Greg Chappell's regime in India and his subsequent firing? What goes around, comes around! Aussies don't like the boot on the other foot!

Truth be told, Australia just do not have even a third rate team right now and that does not go well with their hubris generated over two decades of being at the top. They can have the best coach, but if the players don't perform and then mope, sulk and punch, CA might as well save the cash.

It seems the Aussies started to believe that winning is their birth-right. Yeah, right! I say, why don't they try Greg Chappell as their coach! Might even be fun!

Posted by SarfBD on (June 26, 2013, 16:22 GMT)

Failing to handling these sort of people in the team was part of his job and he didn't do it convincingly. He shouldn't be shielded with others' guilt.

Posted by Simoc on (June 26, 2013, 9:17 GMT)

Nothing worthwhile in this article. Arthur was the wrong person for the job as he was with WA. Ponting was hopeless against SA and rightfully retired. Hussey for his own reasons had had enough and wanted to get out on top, which he did.

That doesn't mean they(inc Stevens) are not good coaches somewhere but they sure didn't deliver good results. I could have coached the Waugh team with as good a result as Buchanan with the players at his disposal. It doesn't get easier.

Posted by RSA-cricket_fan on (June 26, 2013, 8:25 GMT)

Oh Please South Africa got rid of Arther because of his typical management style and because he wanted to emigrate to Australia - he sounds more Australian than Ricky Ponting - please keep him there - we will not be able to understand his lingo back in SA!

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (June 26, 2013, 1:21 GMT)

I do feel sorry for Arthur in that most of what he attempted in order to fix the problems he encountered was well-meaning but ultimately ineffectual. David Warner ignored his curfew. Shaun Marsh couldn't convert his initial form into anything meaningful at number 3. Shane Watson couldn't make it to a hundred in the Boxing Day Test despite a meagre SL attack. Nathan Lyon would not manage to become a wicket-taking bowler (and we lost in Adelaide vs SA). And then there was the homework incident - not enough space for that one.

The reason Arthur was sacked is because none of the ideas and the actions he implemented could be said to have worked in any determinable way. In fact, many of them had negative consequences that outweighed any positive.

Sure, some of it is the player's fault. But again, Arthur had a hand in selecting the players.

Posted by bobagorof on (June 26, 2013, 0:53 GMT)

@cricketfanwrites: While not wanting to support Cricket Australia's poor management, Ponting was a spent force on the field (the India series was a last hurrah and he should have retired immediately afterwards) and Hussey made his own decision (he was not forced out). It did highlight the lack of planning by management, though. I believe if Ponting had retired a year earlier, after the Indian series, there would have been a smoother transition. One cannot just expect 37-38 year olds to keep playing forever. Management obviously hadn't learned from 2006 when Langer, Warne and McGrath retired. At least in that case they had Hayden, Ponting, Hussey and Gilchrist to keep the team going.

Posted by bobagorof on (June 26, 2013, 0:36 GMT)

@Mark Taylor: I think you're being a bit harsh on Mike Hussey, who debuted in 2005 (after Clarke) and James Pattinson. Ryan Harris has also been a consistent performer, but has longstanding knee injury that is hardly the coach's fault. Brad Hodge and Phil Jaques were both world-class. Stuart Clark stepped into McGrath's shoes with great success. Even Johnson was a star performer before fading in the latter half of his career. So there's 6. And I'd hardly call Siddle a 'journeyman', he's played for Victoria and Australia his whole career.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 20:12 GMT)

I see a few people here calling for the removal of Clarke as captain. Do those people want him out of the team, or in the team under a new captain? He is your best batsman, after all. I am sure England would be only too happy for him to be out of the Aussie side.

I don't know what has gone on behind the scenes regarding whether the players respect him, and so on - but as an England follower, I consistently see him spoken of favourably in English media as a captain on the field, in terms of his aggressive and inventive approach.

If he is not the captain, then who is? Haddin is too old to be a long-term replacement.

Posted by cheguramana on (June 25, 2013, 18:00 GMT)

I don't how much of this article is conjecture of what really want wrong and how much of it is informed analysis. It is difficult to believe that one particular bunch of players developed into " coach killers". After all, most of these players have worked with other coaches before. Sure, there some guilt to be shared by Watson, Warner, Clarke, etc. but if it was all players's fault, then the players shud hv ben sacked ! IMHO, the manager is responsible for the teams/ company's performance. Only exceptions is if he dint hv enuf authority and power to do what he thot was rite. Which does not seem to be the case here. So the sacking was rite, but was the timing rite ? What was CA doing ? Allowing things to come to such a pass ? Who gets to sack the CEO?

Posted by Alexk400 on (June 25, 2013, 17:42 GMT)

One thing i noticed is andy flower and mickey arthur is one and the same. They also had problem with pieterson in england. It was handled properly not because of andy flower. Because of other people in the structure. I think what it says is this. You need out of coach and captain , one must have people skills. Problem with aussie team is they do not have that in coach , captain , selectors and ceo. They run the team like corporation which is its own lifeform just try to survive with its own schemes. When creativity stopped you live by schemes. :) . Mickey is still good technical / strategy type coach , good to be great assistant coach at his best. Michael clarke is great batsman but he trying hard to be a leader and failing miserably. You do not talk about discipline of team if you have full control of the team. People make issue out of nothing because they lost all other avenue to take back control. They pick on people so that they feel they have control.

Posted by latecut_04 on (June 25, 2013, 16:20 GMT)

We guys have it easy Dont we..by we I mean you and I and the thousands (may be millions)who are not playing professional sport.I was so demoralised and perturbed by a spineless and diffident manager that I put in my papers and joined another company(in IT sector).But before this I had never heard of any manager blaming hios team mates for non perormance/lack of standards.Thought it just wouldn't work,manager was responsible for the result.HERE i think by sacking the manager may be the correct management decision has been made.BUT will mickey get another international assignment.Doubt it.he shouold never have got this one ithink.AND the blame should go to CA for this whole fiasco.Anyone agree with me?????????????

Posted by santhoo24 on (June 25, 2013, 15:34 GMT)

Interestingly, Ricky Ponting lost his charm, form, and effectiveness, and wa turning out to be a liability when the CA decided to dump him and forced him to retire. Mike Hussey is a different story. I don't remember when the Oz's are known for their gentlemen's type of game. I guess that's where the cultural thing comes up, Arthur being decent guy wanted the Oz to be a team of gentlemen, and the Oz being the Oz decided not to be, and the subsequent clash of attitudes. This saga reminds me of the Greg Chapell's stint as Indian coach, cultural mismatch subsequently leading to a coaching debacle, and ending up with sacking of the coach.

Posted by ThyrSaadam on (June 25, 2013, 15:06 GMT)

Role of coach is over emphasized. Ultimately it is down the player. If you are a good player coaching will help out iron out some chinks but thats about it. And that is why John Buchanan was highly over-rated. Give me that Australian side and i would have done the same. They didnt even have egos because they all wanted to perform at the highest level. The one problem child was the legend SKW(not intending to harm Warne's status in anyway, or take anything away from his legendary status), and Buchanan didn't do enough to manage that.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 14:43 GMT)

I cannot get over what a waste of talent Shane Watson has proven to be. In theory, a man with his gifts should have become the greatest Aussie all-rounder since Keith Miller. As strong as an ox and possession of sublime athleticism, the man should have carried all before him. Yet he hasn't. Australia has been unable to introduce a single consistently world-class performer into their side since Michael Clarke's debut back in 2004. That is nine years. Nine years of chancers (all the batsmen and Doherty), journeymen (Hilfenhaus, Siddle), and underachievers (Tait, Johnson, Watson). A bit like the old England side if you think about it. The appointment of Lehman is definitely a step in the right direction. Have him talking to Warne, have him talking to Waugh, Border, McGrath, and Gilchrist. For 20 years, Australia was the byword for hard-nose professionalism in the cricketing world. It needs to get its anger, its drive back. I'm hoping that the thought of us smug Pommies will do the trick.

Posted by Alexk400 on (June 25, 2013, 14:18 GMT)

I do not think coach killer players exist. Its misnomer because if you have good "leader type" coach , all players will listen. If player is very good in something and weak in some areas , players tend to disrespect them. I disrespected my lecturer in college days because i found his knowledge is worse than what i know. It all comes to what you bring to table. Arthur brought nothing to table that player liked. Discipline and all ok as long as you are winning. Losing and discipline never go together. He was looking for avenues he can establish control over team which i found pathetic attempt at control. Michael clarke should be removed from captaincy for me. He should be ashamed of his action. Pathetic individual. You earn respect by treating players even handed manner. I am bigger than you attitude gona get you up to some level , sooner people gets exposed. I really think if someone can fire selectors and ceo of australia , i am good. Because ultimately they are responsible.

Posted by Alexk400 on (June 25, 2013, 14:06 GMT)

Arthur is great assistant coach. Michael clarke is great Vice captain at best. Because both of these people lacks people skills. We all know sehwag is brilliant with batting , his failure comes when he could not deliver in 2 test he lead and his leadership and captainship skill was abysmal. Clarke is not bad with captaincy but he lacks people skill or make people trust him because his actions are opposite of his words. He kicked out andrew symmonds which was no no because he was their best all rounder even now. You do not take out best players because you do not like them. A good leader tolerate different character and give each player some working space. Team comes second for me. Once people understand your captain doing at best to help , all will come around. Every one likes good guys , Clarke always me me selfish guy and who lacked any other way than his self interests. Hey atleast it helps him great batsman.

Posted by cryptq1 on (June 25, 2013, 14:05 GMT)

I am of the opinion that the main problem in the Australian setup is Clarke as captain. I get the feeling that he does not have the respect of his players. Anyway, time will tell.

Posted by cricketfanwrites on (June 25, 2013, 13:58 GMT)

CA has made Arthur the 'scapegoat' for the problems they created themselves. PROBLEMS: 1. Doing a terrible job selecting sqauds/teams 2. Forcing Ponting and Hussey into retirement. 3. Making their captian one of the selectors. 4. Giving Micheal Clarke too much power.

CA still has the greatest pool of the most talented and proven cricketers in the world. Hence, there is no reason for them to field such terrible teams. CA, give a chance to performing cricketers regardless of their age and/or ethnicity.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 13:04 GMT)

I reckon its time for a through inspection of all things Australian Cricket. A commission of inquiry will expose all the flaws in every aspect of the game. An inquiry will also expose those who also need to leave the game to save it.

Posted by RaadQ on (June 25, 2013, 12:57 GMT)

How about arthur let down bout on-field failure and off-field failure? Apart from a few test successes at home versus subcontinental teams that were struggling in the format, Arthur has done absolute zilch to revive australian cricket. In fact, it has been failing since his arrival.

Posted by Makhulu00 on (June 25, 2013, 12:39 GMT)

Very fair reflection of the situation. Arthur's success with the South Africans came as a result of SA having a strong leader in Graeme Smith, with Arthur providing all the neccesary for the team to succeed. He joined a similar set up with Ponting at the helm, but this changed rapidly.

Posted by ScottStevo on (June 25, 2013, 12:37 GMT)

Why is it that people are under the impression that this sacking is results based? Clearly that's not the case...It's very simple, Arthur wasn't performing his role properly. Blame the players as much as you like, but a huge part of Arthur's managerial role is to ensure team unity. It's plain to see that's not the case, hence, Arthur has failed.With, or without backing from senior players, captain, past players, etc., etc., the buck stops with Arthur for gelling a team. Under his cap, we've seen things go wildly astray. To top it off, selections (which I'm assuming he plays a key role in also), have been diabolical. If it were purely results based, Arthur would still have a job. Also, how is it that we had a horrid CT? We lost one game, washed out another and then circumstances determined the last...it wasn't that bad. Personally, I think we would've defended 243 vs the Kiwi's and I also think that not having to score 250 off 29.1 we'd have beaten SL too, which we still almost did..

Posted by neilvirani on (June 25, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

It seems fair enough for Arthur to go on the basis that the team didn't respond to him or accept his authority.

But the responsibility lies with the players, who really need to look at themselves. The homework saga was clearly Arthur and Clarke trying to get the team to collaborate to identify problems and improve performance and some players not being bothered about it.

And the Warner incident was ridiculous. A player who tries to punch anyone, let alone the opposition, should be sent home in disgrace. The only contraversial thing was letting him stay on the tour.

To those defending him, it's fine and normal for a young man to go for a few drinks. It's not fine to try to punch someone. If the ECB had wanted to, they would have within their rights to get him charged for assault.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 12:23 GMT)

It's very easy to intimate, as some posters here have, that Australians are racist for wanting the best for their national team. The issue with Arthur wasn't the fact that he was a foreigner. It was the fact that he was an ineffective coach. Naturally someone who has "earned their stripes" in a traditional sense would be better respected by the players as opposed to a gun for hire. Lehmann will be respected by the players because he's played the game at the highest level, and contributed to Australian first class cricket for two decades. Timing sucks, but a walloping from England may be what this team needs to finally hit rock bottom and start to rebuild properly.

Posted by Sigismund on (June 25, 2013, 12:13 GMT)

All true - and the bottom line is that Arthur was just unlucky: his talents didn't match the hand he was dealt. Such is the line between success and failure. Both Benaud and Brearley have mused on this point: when they talk about luck, it is a more complex and subtle thing than merely whether e.g. umpires' decisions go your way. Who honestly thinks that Buchanan was a more talented, hard-working and intelligent coach than Arthur?

Posted by UndertheGrill on (June 25, 2013, 11:36 GMT)

I'm no fan of Arthur as a coach, but surely Sutherland and Howard are as equally culpable for the mess the Australians find themselves in. Still, I won't hold my breath waiting for them to fall on their swords.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 11:28 GMT)

Coaches far too often get the blame for the performances of their supposed superstars or mediocre players!very much like the Australian situation now.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 11:23 GMT)

Brettig got this exactly right. David Warner is 26 years old, highly paid and was given a shot at being a future Australian captain. How on earth are his failings Arthur's fault? The one factor that I can say as a fan that Mr Brettig can't say as a paid writer is that this Australian team has plenty of bogans in it. You know who they are. If Lehmann succeeds as Australian coach, it will be partly because he has a good knowledge of cricket and partly because he speaks fluent Bogan.

Posted by demon330 on (June 25, 2013, 11:17 GMT)

The main reason that the Australian team is in the situation it finds itself in at the moment, is the players themselves. No coach can resurrect a situation without the full support of the team, and by team I mean a properly balanced group all striving towards unity and success.To get Arthur in was a mistake from the start. Why not a past Aus cricketer of some standing who understands the team dynamics and national sporting goals? The administrators of the CA are supposed to be on top of the requirements, but have demonstrated that they are anything but, in fact, way behind the pace. Watson, Clarke and Warner need to get it together, or get out, or be pushed out. Wade is in the squad by default. Tim Paine, but for a broken finger needing nearly two years to mend, is the rightful and most skillful 'keeper we have - why isn't he in the squad? The retirement of Ponting and Hussey created a 'experience hole' in the team which has not been able to be filled within, with talent.

Posted by dogcatcher on (June 25, 2013, 10:51 GMT)

People on here clearly give a coach too much credit. You can only work with the tools given & make the best of them. Australian batting has been weak for an extended period of time. The weakness gets exposed away from home & is more in the spotlight after recent retirements. Take Clarkes batting away & that weakness is exposed more.

Mickey can make rules, however, these though young men are grown men capable of looking after themselves & it is up to them to respect & follow those rules. Their indiscretions are not his fault.

Alex Ferguson/ Wenger were not top flight players, however have the backing of the board & a board that buy into a vision. Was Mickey ever 100% backed or was it like Stargazer intimates an issue with him being a foreigner.

It will be interesting what the view is if Lehman is a failure. This team is in transition. At best number 4 in the world, maybe time the Oz public got used to failure. Difficult after decades of success granted but due to players.

Posted by sukmad on (June 25, 2013, 10:35 GMT)

I know I am not going to be very popular saying this: The problem with the Australian team is not their coach (even if he is a failure), its their current skipper. Clarke believes he is above all, selfish and doesnt brook alternate opinion. Precisely the reason why he didnt want the seniors hanging around. I don think he will ever be comfortable with people who hold views differing from his own. I am sorry, if Aus want to perform decently, find a guy to lead them who would hold the team above himself . No harm in going back to Ponting or Hussey as a temporary measure till Aus groom a good successor.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (June 25, 2013, 9:59 GMT)

This article is very, very kind to Mickey Arthur and fails to note what Mickey did wrong with homework gate or why the punishment of David Warner was a huge over-reaction (its not like Joe Root did nothing wrong, is it?). Hopefully Lehmann's mantra of having fun at least gets players unified again, even though it will probably be some time before the damage that Mickey Arthur did to the team can be undone.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 9:10 GMT)

Excellent article..well done, Daniel.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 8:56 GMT)

I do not accept the theory put-forth by the Autho herer.

Though I do not know much about Mickey Arthur, the manner in which he handled the Watson saga was not the way a coach is expected to handle these type of issues, synonymous to Greg Chappell as an Indian coach.

At the end of the day, a coach, like a captain, should inspire confidence in the team. Should be working at uniting the team and not to employe divide and rule tactics.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (June 25, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

Watching from without I was struck by the glee with which many Australian fans received his sacking and, as they perceived it, the comeuppance of a foreigner who had no right to lead their players, nor the innate ability to understand what an Australian was about. There was a degree of isolationism and insularity to the comments as if, in an increasingly international cricketing world where even India have an increasingly successful foreign coach, no Australian can learn anything from a foreigner.

It's curious. Before the India tour results looked good, things were looking up and Australian fans were opening boasting that "the natural order" had been restored with a dominant Australia lording world cricket. One tour and the side suddenly looks vulnerable in a way that never happened to England even after their disastrous tour of the UAE.

Posted by Gordo85 on (June 25, 2013, 8:42 GMT)

I am very pleased with Lehmann as coach. Arthur shouldn't have been replaced at this stage though because of the Ashes coming up really soon. The good thing with Lehmann is that he won't favour any state in selection and this gives hope to Chris Hartley for sure even though Hartley is from Lehmann's old state club. I have full confidence in Lehmann as he is one of my all time Cricket people that I admire very much and should have played more Cricket for Australia but due to poor selection he got hard done by.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 8:36 GMT)

@deoshatwar, John Buchanan is in the New Zealand Cricket executive setup, and has already avoided the axe from the largest fiasco we had at the end of last year. I hope he does get the chop when we have our inevitable next big incident. He shouldn't be involved with NZC at all.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 8:17 GMT)

This is an everage Australian side lacking the Gumption of the side led by Border and Simpson in the late 1980's. They will not be better because of Boof. They should get rid of Clarke as skipper and get a strong individual to lead this team. In my mind that person is not in this team at the moment. Cast the net wide for a strong captain Boof and forge a relationship with him. Clarke is not him.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (June 25, 2013, 8:05 GMT)

@muzika_tchaikovskogo, its amazing what a new 'coach' can do, we see it all the time in Football around the world, with teams on a downer having loast 10 straight matches, their coach gets sacked and a new broom comes in and revitalises the squad with a different approach.

However I think it will be the Ashes in Aus that we see the biggest changes with a more settled squad and one that Lehmann has had a hand in picking. Dont forget hes had no choice in this squad though I do think Agar and Smith included in the main squad has a touch of Lehmann about it.

I expect to see SoK in the squad for the home series, probably pushing Lyon to second spinner spot.

Posted by ozwriter on (June 25, 2013, 8:05 GMT)

i disagree with the author here. it is not the players that let the coach down, its his lack of leadership and man management skills. writing petty assignments on how you can improve, speaking publicly about your distrust of one of the senior players, former vice captain and leading all-rounder was never really the right thing to do.

Posted by ozwriter on (June 25, 2013, 8:03 GMT)

a 'line in the sand' moment one might say

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (June 25, 2013, 7:18 GMT)

I fear Lehmann isn't going to do much better than Arthur. The simple fact is that Australia's batsmen (Clarke apart) are not even comparable to their counterparts from the golden generation. Their pace attack is strong, but they'll have their job cut out with the level of support they're likely to get from their batsmen.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

Superb article. I was always a big admirer of Mickey Arthur. I can't help but notice that the one constant factor in all of Cricket Australia's debacles over the last 5 years has been James Sutherland - why is he never held accountable?

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (June 25, 2013, 6:20 GMT)

when pat howard was appointed as 'HIGH' performance manager , cricket australia officilas said it was with a view to engage him as a link between the team and the board as well as assigning him the responsibility of the australian team's functioning . So where is that accountability now?

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 6:12 GMT)

Whoever the Australia coach is, it won't affect the outcome of The Ashes. There is a huge gulf in the class and experience of both teams (Clarke aside) and England will win comfortably.

Posted by landl47 on (June 25, 2013, 6:05 GMT)

This reminds me of a story from American football. A fired coach told his successor "I've left you two letters. When you're in trouble, open them." After a bright start, the team quickly went downhill. The new coach opened the first letter. It said: 'Blame the previous coach.' He followed this advice and the pressure was off for a while. Then things began to go pear-shaped again, so he opened the second letter. It said: 'Write two letters'.

Mickey Arthur inherited a below-average team and made it worse. Let's hope Boof can have some success before he needs to open the second letter. I think the first is already open.

Posted by robheinen on (June 25, 2013, 6:01 GMT)

All water under the bridge. Time for Australian cricket to forget it all and start building a sound national squad. Lehmann will do the job

Posted by JohnnyRook on (June 25, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

I somehow knew that Arthur's tenure won't have a happy ending but Lehmann and Australia are perfect match for one another. In my opinion, there is no point having a coach who doesn't have respect of players. Technical/Tactical/Strategic acumen is strictly secondary at this level. I am an Indian and I remember Greg Chappell had respect of players earlier in his tenure and the team responded well to him. Then when he started talking to media too much and giving batting tips to a guy with 30000 international runs, he lost that respect and it all went awry. Kirsten on the other hand continued to command respect throughout. I think Duncan Fletcher was not respected in Indian dressing room as much as now. After Kirsten, Indian players wanted a hands-on coach like him who would run laps with them and share a laugh or two. They must have found Fletcher a very dry character. Kudos to him, he seems to have won them over now and results are there to see.

Posted by deoshatwar on (June 25, 2013, 5:03 GMT)

Where is Buchanan by the way? He might have point or two to prove. Either he or someone like Greg Chappel woud have been a greater choice. You need someone who can relate himself with the world beating elements of Aussie cricket.l

Posted by deoshatwar on (June 25, 2013, 4:59 GMT)

Alarming signs regarding Test batting have been there to see in Australian Cricket for quite some time. It starts from the period when they had to select someone like Andrew Symmonds as No 6 batsman, who was more of an ODI batsman; could they not find a more solid option then? There were no replacements on this horizon when Heyden and Langer were to retire. People like Watson and Warner whose technique and temperament is better suited to ODIs had to be picked and groomed at the international level which is ridiculous when there is such a strong domestic structure. Te reason being, if they were to be groomed at national level who would play the at international level? You probably need an iron fist of Alan Border at national level to bring that defiant, arrogant, high quality Australian team back. We so much love to hate and admire them at the same time.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (June 25, 2013, 4:54 GMT)

I think a good point is made about comparing Arthurs to Lehmann. Lehmann is an Australian ex-test player and will get the immediate respect from the players, unlike Arthurs. Unfortunately it has nothing to do with what Arthurs did or didn't do but who he isn't. I hope the players shape up and get more professional or Lehmann should make some changes.

Posted by Llassalas on (June 25, 2013, 4:41 GMT)

So far no one has asked the ACB to be held accountable - after all they employed Arthurs, even after a short and medioca performance with WA. Really the ACB failed in fact the CEO has now been at the helm of a series of poorly managed issue. He needs to go...........

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 3:23 GMT)

I am not sure about Ponting but its obvious that without Arthur (& Clarke) Hussey would have been around for a bit longer. Of course what-ifs help only if you can implement the lessons learnt.

Posted by the_blue_android on (June 25, 2013, 2:58 GMT)

The starting point in this conversation cannot be that the players don't think too much of coach. It should be why do they not think too much of a coach. that's because some coaches don't have a whole lot of value to add. If a batsman is failing and all the coach is gonna say is you need to focus more and score runs, it's of no inherent value to the batsman, which is what Arthur and the likes do. Real coaches figure out what exactly is the problem and fix it hands on. those coaches get more respect out of players. It's as simple as that. Do you think a community college lecturer with limited understanding of science can go teach at MIT? No one will take the lecturer seriously due to the same reasons. You can't force the students at MIT to listen to a lecturer who understands less than what they do.

Posted by Dashgar on (June 25, 2013, 2:48 GMT)

While its true that the poor behavior and poor performances are the players doing and players fault it brings into question what was Arthur even doing by the end. His job is to develop players, few under his care developed at all, provide leadership, he seemed to have lost the players respect, and give tactical advice to win games, and we lost far too many games. The coach does have a job to do and he is much easier to replace than players. Arthur was rightfully sacked, it's not like zero players have been axed under his reign so don't act like he's the first to go and the players have escaped Scott free.

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

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