June 26, 2013

Mickey's problem

Australia's recently replaced coach came up against an Australian cricketing culture struggling to come to terms with a new reality
23

One of the questions asked of Australian cricketers during the Mickey Arthur era was, "How did you rate your sleep?" The idea was to encourage a holistic approach to match preparation, in which mind and body worked together in blissful harmony.

From today, if a player complains about a poor night's sleep under the new coaching regime of Darren Lehmann, he should expect the burly left-hander to reply: "Should have had an extra couple of beers last night then, mate." As for hydration, Rod Marsh used to say that if you had to take a toilet break during the hours of play then you obviously hadn't drunk enough the night before. Being a bit thirsty in the morning has its benefits.

In turning to Lehmann, there is a sense of Australian cricket coming home. He is naturally chatty and quick-witted, with a keen cricket brain and an earthy manner. When he was Yorkshire's overseas player, I remember a close four-day match between Yorkshire and Kent at Canterbury. Before the start of the final day's play, it was agreed that both teams would enjoy a few drinks in the home dressing room after the match. Lehmann was free and unguarded with his perceptions and insights, almost as though it was a responsibility of senior players to talk about the game. You could also tell he was absolutely in his element in a dressing-room environment.

Context is everything, as Mickey Arthur has found out. As coach of South Africa, Arthur enjoyed an established side, a resolute captain and an experienced group of senior players. That played to his strengths. An affable and undemonstrative man, Arthur could operate under the radar. Graeme Smith, one of the strongest captains in world cricket, already commanded plenty of authority and a clear sense of direction.

It has become fashionable in modern sport to waste a great deal of energy fretting about "job descriptions" and "lines of accountability". In real life, however, wherever the arrows may point on the flow charts, power finds itself in the hands of dominant personalities. The real determining factor in the distribution of power between a captain and a coach is their personal chemistry. A shrewd coach will empower a captain and the senior player as far as possible. And when Arthur was coach of South Africa, there was no shortage of alpha males out on the pitch.

Now transfer Arthur into a very different setting. Where South Africa had a settled side that was enjoying sustained success, Australia are adjusting - or failing to adjust - to leaner years, having gorged themselves on two decades of feasting on perpetual success. Where most of the South African team selected itself, Australia have had great difficulty identifying their best XI. That is not a criticism. You try selecting the same team during a sequence of defeats and listen in vain for the pundits shouting, "Well done on retaining consistency of selection." No, losing teams search for a new combination that will bring better results. The much-worshipped god "consistency of selection" is partly a privilege that follows from success as well as a cause of it. There is certainly a strong correlation between a settled side and a winning team, but as mathematicians learn in their first statistics class, correlation does not always imply straightforward causality.

Arthur faced another problem not of his own making: the expectations of the Australian cricketing culture. This has been an unpleasant hangover after a hell of a party. For 20 years Australian cricket celebrated a golden age that would have made Jay Gatsby blush. In terms of cricketing talent, the taps overflowed with vintage champagne. To understand how good Australia were, simply remember that Lehmann himself only played 27 Tests.

We used to hear how Australian cricket was best because they were mates who played for each other; Australian cricket was best because they were tougher and "mentally stronger"; Australian cricket was best because they had fewer first-class teams; Australian cricket was best because it didn't have to endure the "mediocrity of county cricket"

As any economist will tell you, the most dangerous aspect of any boom is the absurd way it is "explained" as a new and permanent paradigm shift (remember the view, just before the financial crisis, that modern banks had mastered "risk-free" methods?) We used to hear how Australian cricket was best because they were mates who played for each other; Australian cricket was best because they were tougher and "mentally stronger"; Australian cricket was best because they had fewer first-class teams; Australian cricket was best because it didn't have to endure the "mediocrity of county cricket"; Australian cricket was best because they knew how to enjoy a win and let their hair down; Australian cricket was best because they were "more professional". I heard all those theories put forward with huge confidence, often in tandem, even when the theories contradicted each other.

The difficulty, of course, came when results deteriorated, as they eventually had to. In a boom, you can have any explanation for why Australia were so good and still be proved "right". As a result, Australian cricket finds itself awash with voodoo doctors - convinced of their own prescience - rushing to pronounce the cure for a new and frightening malady called "average results". My own opinion is that the rise and fall of cricketing nations is harder to explain, let alone reverse, than most people seem to think.

Arthur's frustrating time with Australia reveals a broader problem. The whole notion of "a track record" is questionable, especially when the track record under discussion consists of a smallish sample size. Arthur's track record of success with South Africa does not "prove" he is a brilliant coach any more than his track record of relative failure with Australia proves he is a bad one.

Each phase of every management career is unique. The way any team functions can never be reduced to scientific analysis. As a result, credit and blame can never be exactly apportioned. We know for sure that some leaders experience success and failure. But exactly why, or to what extent they were responsible, will always remain partly a mystery. Coaches do not operate in a vacuum. What they inherit - the personnel, appetite for change, and attitude of the wider culture - matters at least as much as their methods.

Arthur encountered an Australian cricketing culture struggling to come to terms with a new reality. Quite simply, they aren't that good anymore. They may well get better under Darren Lehmann. But anxiously searching for miracles has a nasty habit of making them harder to find.

Ed Smith's latest book is Luck - A Fresh Look at Fortune. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cric_options on June 26, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    Ed, and Cricinfo, this is one of the best articles I have read in the last few months. Kudos to that. What is getting very little attention is that how similar this is to the Greg Chappell/ India coaching situation. India and Australia, totally different cultures, but what did not work is coaches who did not appreciate the strength of cricketing cultures much different from what they have seen before. India and Australia has both been successful with they own ways, its immature to think a foreign approach which they bring along is going to be the only one which could work for them. And therefore the administrators who recruit coaches have to take part of the blame, for not doing due diligence in understanding the nature of fitment required for the job.

  • JohnnyRook on June 26, 2013, 4:51 GMT

    Great Article, Ed. I love your deep thinking and attempt to bring sensibility against the hyperbole. Yesterday I was with my friends and discussion veered towards this topic. Majority said Arthur is a bad coach and Lehman is a great coach. I said Lehmann is a great coach for current Australian cricket team and Arthur was a bad coach for this particular setup.

    Similarly most Indians say Kirsten was a great coach and Chappell was a terrible coach. Rarely do people say that Kirsten with his "friendly" methods, might be a great coach for an international setup and Chappell might be a fantastic coach for a cicket academy with his "tough headmaster" methods.

    I have concluded that people just prefer to generalize and think in absolutes because it is simpler even though it could be wrong.

  • shrastogi on June 29, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Good article but it seems to suggest that its not Arthur's fault and its the detriorating aussie performance that has to take blame. Being dismissed ingloriously just before ashes this looks similar to sacking of a non performing CEO in a Multinational corporation. The very way Arthur tried to run a national cricket team throwing out players who didnt do their homework. So what you do to the players has boomranged. I would agree that coach alone can not bring results, he can give direction but its the players who have to perform. And in this context Arthur's performance in India was appaling. Aussies lacked clear direction as there were too many changes in side. Learning for any coach or an aussie coach is to negotiate a decent exit clause as the aussie setup doesnt have the patience.

  • on June 29, 2013, 7:47 GMT

    yaaaa thisss time is sooo difficult situatiion in australian team.....

  • Mr.PotatoesTomatoes on June 29, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    Great angles...one doesn't get to read too many interdisciplinary articles on cricinfo. But this one manages to put the Arthur episode in proper perspective through some fine thinking derived from seemingly disparate fields.

  • colc on June 27, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    Interesting to see the contrasting fortunes of Arthur and Duncan Fletcher. In the two years that Fletcher has been in charge his head has been called for many times [especially after the India v England series] However, they've stuck with him, and India are once more a force to be reckoned with. Their fielding has improved markedly, and virtually every "new" player they've integrated into the team seems to have been a success.

  • Amit_13 on June 27, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    You always have to find the glove that fits the hand!!! It may or may not be the best glove.

  • ScottStevo on June 26, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    Wow, I love these articles from the English - whereas our results are lean....compared with which other teams results? Eng's? Well, for deteriorated results, why is it that since our last Ashes meeting our results in tests are very similar to that of Eng's? I think there are too many out there who only seem to recollect one series, played 2 months ago and have such minimal brain capacity to recollect that we challenged SA at home not so long ago and almost went to #1 due to it. Yes, they have been leaner times than when we were winning almost every single match we played in...but seriously, how long CAN that continue. We did have amazing players overflowing; to the point where we could've fielded 3 sides capable of winning most test matches. Maybe we don't have that depth, but don't judge us based purely on these selections, our selectors are rubbish and should also be shown the door. There is talent in Oz (don't kid yourselves there's not), who may not dominate, but they will compete.

  • wibblewibble on June 26, 2013, 20:53 GMT

    I still think Arthur was sacked because he tried to play down the seriousness of Warner's transgressions. I think Sutherland was appalled by what he perceived Warner had done, and felt undermined by the coach playing it down in the media, on an issue that had already been dealt with some time before. He briefed one day in the UK, and was sacked when Australia woke up that night.

    Personally I felt Warner's misdeeds were over punished, it was just a bit of nonsense, "say sorry and move on" sort of situation.

  • Batmanindallas on June 26, 2013, 18:28 GMT

    Ed has this one right. When Cricket Australia selected Arthur they ignored the fact that his track record was not his only. He did not take a bunch of nobodies and turn them into superstars. Smith and SA team had a bunch of very talented players. To me he is SA equivalent of John Buchanan -I don't think Buchanan contributed to Ponting, Waughs or Shane Warne become better players :). A good coach to me is someone like Wright or Kristen both Indian coaches who had lion share to play in India's success. Lehmann might succeed where others have failed but for that a lot of hard decisions have to be taken and start afresh with fresh legs and clean slates

  • cric_options on June 26, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    Ed, and Cricinfo, this is one of the best articles I have read in the last few months. Kudos to that. What is getting very little attention is that how similar this is to the Greg Chappell/ India coaching situation. India and Australia, totally different cultures, but what did not work is coaches who did not appreciate the strength of cricketing cultures much different from what they have seen before. India and Australia has both been successful with they own ways, its immature to think a foreign approach which they bring along is going to be the only one which could work for them. And therefore the administrators who recruit coaches have to take part of the blame, for not doing due diligence in understanding the nature of fitment required for the job.

  • JohnnyRook on June 26, 2013, 4:51 GMT

    Great Article, Ed. I love your deep thinking and attempt to bring sensibility against the hyperbole. Yesterday I was with my friends and discussion veered towards this topic. Majority said Arthur is a bad coach and Lehman is a great coach. I said Lehmann is a great coach for current Australian cricket team and Arthur was a bad coach for this particular setup.

    Similarly most Indians say Kirsten was a great coach and Chappell was a terrible coach. Rarely do people say that Kirsten with his "friendly" methods, might be a great coach for an international setup and Chappell might be a fantastic coach for a cicket academy with his "tough headmaster" methods.

    I have concluded that people just prefer to generalize and think in absolutes because it is simpler even though it could be wrong.

  • shrastogi on June 29, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Good article but it seems to suggest that its not Arthur's fault and its the detriorating aussie performance that has to take blame. Being dismissed ingloriously just before ashes this looks similar to sacking of a non performing CEO in a Multinational corporation. The very way Arthur tried to run a national cricket team throwing out players who didnt do their homework. So what you do to the players has boomranged. I would agree that coach alone can not bring results, he can give direction but its the players who have to perform. And in this context Arthur's performance in India was appaling. Aussies lacked clear direction as there were too many changes in side. Learning for any coach or an aussie coach is to negotiate a decent exit clause as the aussie setup doesnt have the patience.

  • on June 29, 2013, 7:47 GMT

    yaaaa thisss time is sooo difficult situatiion in australian team.....

  • Mr.PotatoesTomatoes on June 29, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    Great angles...one doesn't get to read too many interdisciplinary articles on cricinfo. But this one manages to put the Arthur episode in proper perspective through some fine thinking derived from seemingly disparate fields.

  • colc on June 27, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    Interesting to see the contrasting fortunes of Arthur and Duncan Fletcher. In the two years that Fletcher has been in charge his head has been called for many times [especially after the India v England series] However, they've stuck with him, and India are once more a force to be reckoned with. Their fielding has improved markedly, and virtually every "new" player they've integrated into the team seems to have been a success.

  • Amit_13 on June 27, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    You always have to find the glove that fits the hand!!! It may or may not be the best glove.

  • ScottStevo on June 26, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    Wow, I love these articles from the English - whereas our results are lean....compared with which other teams results? Eng's? Well, for deteriorated results, why is it that since our last Ashes meeting our results in tests are very similar to that of Eng's? I think there are too many out there who only seem to recollect one series, played 2 months ago and have such minimal brain capacity to recollect that we challenged SA at home not so long ago and almost went to #1 due to it. Yes, they have been leaner times than when we were winning almost every single match we played in...but seriously, how long CAN that continue. We did have amazing players overflowing; to the point where we could've fielded 3 sides capable of winning most test matches. Maybe we don't have that depth, but don't judge us based purely on these selections, our selectors are rubbish and should also be shown the door. There is talent in Oz (don't kid yourselves there's not), who may not dominate, but they will compete.

  • wibblewibble on June 26, 2013, 20:53 GMT

    I still think Arthur was sacked because he tried to play down the seriousness of Warner's transgressions. I think Sutherland was appalled by what he perceived Warner had done, and felt undermined by the coach playing it down in the media, on an issue that had already been dealt with some time before. He briefed one day in the UK, and was sacked when Australia woke up that night.

    Personally I felt Warner's misdeeds were over punished, it was just a bit of nonsense, "say sorry and move on" sort of situation.

  • Batmanindallas on June 26, 2013, 18:28 GMT

    Ed has this one right. When Cricket Australia selected Arthur they ignored the fact that his track record was not his only. He did not take a bunch of nobodies and turn them into superstars. Smith and SA team had a bunch of very talented players. To me he is SA equivalent of John Buchanan -I don't think Buchanan contributed to Ponting, Waughs or Shane Warne become better players :). A good coach to me is someone like Wright or Kristen both Indian coaches who had lion share to play in India's success. Lehmann might succeed where others have failed but for that a lot of hard decisions have to be taken and start afresh with fresh legs and clean slates

  • Guruprasad.S on June 26, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    A very well-argued article by Ed Smith. The correlation-causality analysis indicates that Ed is a serious thinker and analyzer of situations and facts. @cric_options: I feel that sacking of Arthur is more unfair than that of Greg Chappell. Although Greg was honest and had the best interests of Indian cricket in mind, he made the mistake of going to the media too often, and discussed his interaction with players in a public manner. Moreover, he was given time till World Cup 2007 and then sacked. Arthur has been sacked for misdeeds of players like Warner and Co. Really, Arthur can't be held responsible for players' off-field behaviour. The fact is that this is a low-quality Australian test team with only one world-class batsman and maybe two world-class fast bowlers.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on June 26, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    As always with Ed, an interesting and thought provoking article. I agree with with Ed that Arthur was an experienced, affable coach in the wrong situation. With Ponting and Mike Hussey both retired the match between Arthur and the Aus cricket team became "more wrong".

    Lehmann could not be more right for where the Aus cricket team is now. It seems as if Lehmann was born and lived all his life for this role and he will also be a wildcard for Aus in the upcoming Ashes.

    Congratulations to CA on this occasion for spotting the problem with Arthur and having both the daring and decisiveness to act when they did. It reminds me of one of Steve Waugh's slams over cow corner for six.

  • noodles787878 on June 26, 2013, 12:45 GMT

    The West Indians were world beaters at one time and then went into a downward spiral that still evokes sympathy from any cricket supporter. I reckon it's now time for Australia to step aside and let some of the other teams enjoy their time under the sun. At the moment the pretenders to the crown, in my opinion, are England and South Africa. Even though I have always been a supporter of the Indian team I never felt they were world champion material, considering a bowling attack which has always lacked venom - the two World Cup and recent Champions Trophy triumphs notwithstanding. When the Australian team was at the top of its cricketing prowess, it was of the opinion that the West Indies needed to be shown no mercy and was bent on giving it the same treatment that it had been dishing out to the other teams during its heyday. It is said - what goes around, comes around. Perhaps it is now the Englishmen's turn to avenge the humiliations that were heaped on them by the Australians for most

  • on June 26, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    Great piece, well written and makes a definite case about there being no definite case

  • Jonathan_E on June 26, 2013, 12:33 GMT

    It's not about the manager. It's about the fact that the players aren't playing well enough.

    If the best available players are not being selected, that's the fault of the selectors.

    If the best available players are being selected, but not playing to the best of their ability, that's *their* problem.

    If the best available players are being selected, and playing to the best of their ability, and it still isn't good enough... that's Australia's problem.

  • Clan_McLachlan on June 26, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    You're painting an overly rosy picture of his time as South African coach. He was ok, he made some good calls and some bad ones. We won in Australia, but failed to win a number of series at home. But the main reason he got the job was that he was unobtrusive and unlikely to interfere with players desires. The team remained driven around the Smith/Kallis/Boucher/de Villiers axis of power, and when they tired of him he was dumped.

    Australia doesn't have that strong axis in their team, and Arthur's methods have come to naught. I always felt that a major international coaching job was a step beyond his ability. When he was coaching the Warriors I thought that he'd reached his level. And he's better off at domestic or associate level, which is where he'll hopefully end up now.

  • on June 26, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    Ed Smith is fantastic analyser and writer.

  • PeterJerome on June 26, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    The problems with australian cricket started not bcos of Arthur, but the attitude of their selectors twds senior pros in the team. You dont treat seniors like trash. Take the eg of M Hussey. Though on the face of it he looked a selfish person, but he had well known reasons for him decision. We say the Aus team doesnt look aggressive anymore, but the selectors did not allow a smooth transition to happen. It should have been the seniors handing over the reins to the youngsters, not the selectors. Young blood is energy, but without guidance, its nothing. If at all anything, I think the selectors owe an apology to the senior cricketers. Poor Micky the scapegoat. Sorry Ed Smith.

  • on June 26, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    In terms of trying to replicate what worked in the past Lehmann must surely be about the best fit Australia could find. Bob Simpson was our last great coach and did no more than look to instill the basics at the highest level possible. Its these basic skills which will get Australia back on track, cutting out errant shots (think Cook and Trott or Steve Waugh and Mike Hussey), holding catches (think Taylor and Mark Waugh) and bowling exacting lines and lengths (think McGrath!). These skills and these skills only bring success at test cricket. I only wish they'd bring in Jason Gillespie as an assisstant. He would obviously know Lehmann very well and his doing terrific work at Yorkshire, turning the careers of Rashid and Plunkett back in the right direction as well as overseeing the success of the likes of Root, Bairstow and Ballance. Make the call Sutherland!

  • Nutcutlet on June 26, 2013, 6:29 GMT

    I wonder how crucial an outstanding coach is. Don't get me wrong, I'm certain that a top coach will be of overall benefit to specific players: getting inside their heads, making them believe in themselves & giving them a sense of focus. At the highest level he surely will not be especially concerned with technique, unless a player approaches him over some (probably) minor difficulty; something that needs a tweak. A player must arrive at internat. level knowing his own game; if he doesn't then he shouldn't be there. In short, I think the term 'coach' is itself misleading, because it doesn't get to the interpersonal chemistry that lies at the heart of what he's contracted to do: assist the captain in developing a cohesive unit that wins regularly. England defines Andy Flower's position as that of Team Manager which seems to hit the right note. The interaction between the coach/manager/capt is all, yet we read that M Clarke is no longer part of the selection process. How can that help?

  • spindizzy on June 26, 2013, 4:54 GMT

    Ed, amazing article. I can't think of a way that you could prove to be even more wrong. It's this managerial type of thinking that has caused the decline in not just Australian cricket but politics and life in general. Managers are generally clueless and very good at taking the credit for others successes but never the blame for their failures. Take your management speak rubbish and try and sell it elsewhere, or even better get a real job.

  • Ozcricketwriter on June 26, 2013, 3:57 GMT

    Don't forget that Mickey Arthur was sacked as South African coach because he didn't get along with the establishment. The players liked him because of his results but he was considered to be too heavy handed. Why Mickey was given the job in Australia is beyond me. Because he had insights into South African cricket perhaps? I also don't think that Lehmann is the best man to replace him. Lehmann isn't bad, don't get me wrong, and is much better than Arthur. But surely they should have done a search. In order from best to worst, the best coaches available are: 1) Tom Moody 2) Geoff Marsh 3) Dav Whatmore 4) Darren Lehmann. Lehmann will do okay but I wish that they had cast their net a bit wider. Hopefully Lehmann is on a short term contract and if he doesn't work then we can go with Moody or Marsh.

  • Insult_2_Injury on June 26, 2013, 3:05 GMT

    Personality is a huge part of coaching. It garners respect and derision in equal measures. If a coach empathises with a charge, then lessons are more easily learnt and respect follows. If a coach preaches and dictates then student and teacher often are at loggerheads and invariably derision follows. Both Arthur and Lehman may be perceived as easy going, but there personalities are completely different. Lehman's ability to empathise will stand him in good stead, as will his innate understanding of the Australian disdain for pc approaches to all sport now. He will be a great filter between the CA bureaucracy and the need to show some on field mongrel which all successful Aussie sides have been built on.

  • Insult_2_Injury on June 26, 2013, 3:05 GMT

    Personality is a huge part of coaching. It garners respect and derision in equal measures. If a coach empathises with a charge, then lessons are more easily learnt and respect follows. If a coach preaches and dictates then student and teacher often are at loggerheads and invariably derision follows. Both Arthur and Lehman may be perceived as easy going, but there personalities are completely different. Lehman's ability to empathise will stand him in good stead, as will his innate understanding of the Australian disdain for pc approaches to all sport now. He will be a great filter between the CA bureaucracy and the need to show some on field mongrel which all successful Aussie sides have been built on.

  • Ozcricketwriter on June 26, 2013, 3:57 GMT

    Don't forget that Mickey Arthur was sacked as South African coach because he didn't get along with the establishment. The players liked him because of his results but he was considered to be too heavy handed. Why Mickey was given the job in Australia is beyond me. Because he had insights into South African cricket perhaps? I also don't think that Lehmann is the best man to replace him. Lehmann isn't bad, don't get me wrong, and is much better than Arthur. But surely they should have done a search. In order from best to worst, the best coaches available are: 1) Tom Moody 2) Geoff Marsh 3) Dav Whatmore 4) Darren Lehmann. Lehmann will do okay but I wish that they had cast their net a bit wider. Hopefully Lehmann is on a short term contract and if he doesn't work then we can go with Moody or Marsh.

  • spindizzy on June 26, 2013, 4:54 GMT

    Ed, amazing article. I can't think of a way that you could prove to be even more wrong. It's this managerial type of thinking that has caused the decline in not just Australian cricket but politics and life in general. Managers are generally clueless and very good at taking the credit for others successes but never the blame for their failures. Take your management speak rubbish and try and sell it elsewhere, or even better get a real job.

  • Nutcutlet on June 26, 2013, 6:29 GMT

    I wonder how crucial an outstanding coach is. Don't get me wrong, I'm certain that a top coach will be of overall benefit to specific players: getting inside their heads, making them believe in themselves & giving them a sense of focus. At the highest level he surely will not be especially concerned with technique, unless a player approaches him over some (probably) minor difficulty; something that needs a tweak. A player must arrive at internat. level knowing his own game; if he doesn't then he shouldn't be there. In short, I think the term 'coach' is itself misleading, because it doesn't get to the interpersonal chemistry that lies at the heart of what he's contracted to do: assist the captain in developing a cohesive unit that wins regularly. England defines Andy Flower's position as that of Team Manager which seems to hit the right note. The interaction between the coach/manager/capt is all, yet we read that M Clarke is no longer part of the selection process. How can that help?

  • on June 26, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    In terms of trying to replicate what worked in the past Lehmann must surely be about the best fit Australia could find. Bob Simpson was our last great coach and did no more than look to instill the basics at the highest level possible. Its these basic skills which will get Australia back on track, cutting out errant shots (think Cook and Trott or Steve Waugh and Mike Hussey), holding catches (think Taylor and Mark Waugh) and bowling exacting lines and lengths (think McGrath!). These skills and these skills only bring success at test cricket. I only wish they'd bring in Jason Gillespie as an assisstant. He would obviously know Lehmann very well and his doing terrific work at Yorkshire, turning the careers of Rashid and Plunkett back in the right direction as well as overseeing the success of the likes of Root, Bairstow and Ballance. Make the call Sutherland!

  • PeterJerome on June 26, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    The problems with australian cricket started not bcos of Arthur, but the attitude of their selectors twds senior pros in the team. You dont treat seniors like trash. Take the eg of M Hussey. Though on the face of it he looked a selfish person, but he had well known reasons for him decision. We say the Aus team doesnt look aggressive anymore, but the selectors did not allow a smooth transition to happen. It should have been the seniors handing over the reins to the youngsters, not the selectors. Young blood is energy, but without guidance, its nothing. If at all anything, I think the selectors owe an apology to the senior cricketers. Poor Micky the scapegoat. Sorry Ed Smith.

  • on June 26, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    Ed Smith is fantastic analyser and writer.

  • Clan_McLachlan on June 26, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    You're painting an overly rosy picture of his time as South African coach. He was ok, he made some good calls and some bad ones. We won in Australia, but failed to win a number of series at home. But the main reason he got the job was that he was unobtrusive and unlikely to interfere with players desires. The team remained driven around the Smith/Kallis/Boucher/de Villiers axis of power, and when they tired of him he was dumped.

    Australia doesn't have that strong axis in their team, and Arthur's methods have come to naught. I always felt that a major international coaching job was a step beyond his ability. When he was coaching the Warriors I thought that he'd reached his level. And he's better off at domestic or associate level, which is where he'll hopefully end up now.

  • Jonathan_E on June 26, 2013, 12:33 GMT

    It's not about the manager. It's about the fact that the players aren't playing well enough.

    If the best available players are not being selected, that's the fault of the selectors.

    If the best available players are being selected, but not playing to the best of their ability, that's *their* problem.

    If the best available players are being selected, and playing to the best of their ability, and it still isn't good enough... that's Australia's problem.

  • on June 26, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    Great piece, well written and makes a definite case about there being no definite case