The Investec Ashes 2013 June 18, 2013

Clarke's Ashes squad fragmented

A strong show of unity is needed after the problems that have dogged the start of their tour
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Even if some of the more scurrilous rumours abounding from within the Australian cricket team are discounted, it is impossible to escape the symbolism of their current disposition. Day one of the tourists' Investec Ashes campaign ended the same way it began, with the 16 chosen squad members and their shadows dispersed across the United Kingdom. Whether by accident or design, this is more a fragmented front than a united one.

The majority, marshalled by the tour vice-captain Brad Haddin, have assembled in Bristol, where Australia A will play a three-day match against Gloucestershire from Friday. But the captain, Michael Clarke, along with Shane Watson, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and James Faulkner remain at the team hotel in London, where they will train this week in low profile sessions destined to serve primarily as an elongated fitness test for Clarke's back.

On Wednesday they will be joined by the opener and Middlesex captain Chris Rogers, now excused from his county duties and readying himself for a final tilt at international recognition. Champions Trophy squad members not required for the Ashes will drift away in dribs and drabs, some like Adam Voges and Glenn Maxwell contracted for English Twenty20 japes, others like George Bailey and Nathan Coulter-Nile heading back to the Australian winter. Then there is Ed Cowan, still in Nottingham on county secondment, and not likely to join his Australia colleagues until Monday in Taunton, dubbed the "official" starting point of the Ashes tour.

All these players are eager to prepare for the Ashes. Save for Rogers and perhaps Cowan, all are in urgent need of strong first-class grounding for the battles to come, for confidence as much as familiarity with the Dukes ball and occasionally capricious English pitches. And all would wish to distance themselves from the horrid start to the tour, featuring as it has an injured, absentee captain, a timid first encounter with England, a drunken punch thrown by a foolish opening batsman, and a group quite happy to go out on the town until the small hours immediately after a bad defeat.

Problems on the field, off the field and in the spaces between will not repair themselves. Whatever has been said publicly by Clarke, Warner, Bailey and others, this is a team in desperate need of time together under firm leadership, to heal the ructions apparent over the past two weeks, and to re-focus on the steep task at hand. Early Champions Trophy elimination had afforded the team on tour a chance to assemble a week earlier than planned but it does not appear one that will be taken up.

Though this can mainly be attributed to reasons of back-related convalescence, Clarke has so far spent more time away from most of his team than he has done with them. The importance of a tour's early days to establish standards of behaviour and performance has been stressed by many, including the former England captain Michael Atherton. In this case there was an unmistakable sense of 'while the cat's away...' about the drinking transgressions in Birmingham.

"It wasn't the right thing to do after a loss, to go out and have a few beers"
Phillip Hughes

Surprise that Clarke did not travel straight up to the Midlands from London at the first sign of internal trouble, no matter how bad the condition of his back, has competed with the ball-tampering allegations against England as the choicest of tournament gossip. Eyebrows are likely to be raised again at the news that Clarke will spend another week away from most of the players under his leadership, even if his trust in Haddin as the Australia A captain and tour lieutenant is absolute.

Phillip Hughes, who has been closer to Clarke than most, was happy to apologise for being out on the night in question. For years Australia's team culture was built along several unshakeable maxims, one of which was that the celebration of a win was to be long and raucous, but that the wake after a loss should be precisely the opposite. While it is an easier instruction to carry out when the team wins frequently, numerous players, former and current, were less disturbed by the notion that Warner punched Joe Root than the fact members of a team well beaten had no compunction about getting well liquored that same evening. Losses should hurt more than that.

"Everyone's accountable for it, it was after a loss and I was one of the guys who was out," Hughes said. "So I put my hand up and say it wasn't the right thing to do after a loss, to go out and have a few beers. It wasn't the right time or place. We've all got to learn from that and I'll definitely put my hand up and say it wasn't the right time. You want to win and have a beer after you win … We shouldn't have been out after a loss."

Hughes went on to take heart from the view that "we're all in it together". It was the right kind of sentiment, but for the moment it does not reflect the way the Australia team are playing their cricket, nor their geographical relationship to each other. Sporting history is littered with teams who played above their modest talent levels by binding together in collective effort and diligence, frustrating and confounding opponents with greater resources and reputations. Unfortunately for Australia's cricketers, right now they are defying one of the maxims of a rather more serious business, warfare: never divide your forces in the face of a superior enemy.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Wealwayslosethecricket on June 19, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    Regardless of the good or bad form they may have had, I think this is the real impact that the Aussie side has felt from the retirement of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. Even with Clarke as captain for the last few years, those two were the most senior players in the side, and formed an almost essential part of the squad's leadership group. Their retirement has had the effect on the team similar to that of a person who loses a limb- You take it for granted, and you can't function properly without it. What Australia needed, and still needs, is for the next most senior players (Watson, Haddin, perhaps Mitchell Johnson) to fill the void, but that hasn't happened, and the National Selection Panel certainly didn't recognise that; their selections over the last 6 months have been shocking. What we need more than anything else right now is strong leadership from Clarke and Haddin, and we need the youngsters to step up and prove they are future captain material. P.S. Great Article.

  • Sanj747 on June 18, 2013, 20:45 GMT

    Nice article. Spot on. Unfortunately Cricket Australia has such a vacuum in leadership both on and off the field. Reminds us of what the West Indies went and are atill somwehat going through after the greats hung up their boots. We have the underperforming 3 Ws - Watson, Warner and Wade all paid big money. I hope Khwaja is sitting quietly behind taking notice of a clear opportunity to step up and perform both on and off the field. If there is a time to cement a spot in the team it is very much now.

  • jlw74 on June 21, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    Attention Clarke haters please, rather then banging on about how terrible a captain he is could you please back up that argument with some validity??? He is scoring runs at a rate we have not seen since a certain DG Bradman was in his pomp some 80 years ago. He is an aggressive captain who sets wicket taking fields and supports his bowlers. He is prepared to take risks and not let the match meander. His problem has been some of the hair brain decisions made by our national selectors in recent times Glen Maxwell is not a test cricketer and neither yet is Moises Henriques. Steven Smith on the other hand looks like he may well be and I never thought I would say that. If our selectors pick the right side Clarke will lead from the front he is a better test captain then Cook who is conservative,tentative and right there is an advantage Australia already have. Its not the greatest Australian side of all time but be very careful writing them off just yet.

  • johnnycash on June 21, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    Simon Katich should still be opening when they walk out onto the field for day 1. If it wasn't for long gone Lara Bingle, most things would be ok in Australian cricket.

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on June 20, 2013, 19:14 GMT

    Australia cant simply hide behind this 'we lost ponting and hussey' excuse forever , everybody knew it was coming ,even India has lost out greats Dravid , laxman and sehwag, gambhir have also been struggling , but India has replaced them with younger talents and their absence is hardly felt.Get george bailey into side , he is a fighter

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on June 20, 2013, 19:00 GMT

    The real problem with Australian cricket is a genuine lack of young batting talent , which is quite surprising to an outsider like me because this was the same system which produced the likes of ponting , clarke , hussey , hayden , gilly , waugh brothers (and the list goes on) , Australia as of now, doesn't have any world class batsman (except a Michael Clarke with back problem), CA should fix the domestic scene first and wait .. until then there isn't much that can be done.

  • redneck on June 20, 2013, 1:53 GMT

    @Sirio mate feel free to leave if thats what you think of us. why does khawaja deserve another go. getting single digit scores against minnows for aus a isnt going to get him selected! is that the obvious reasons???? mate look at brad hodges unlucky career. he got dropped after making a double ton against south africa. hughes may look awful at the crease but atleast he has proven he can make scores. uzzy has not done this, infact he has looked out of his depth batting and lathargic and slow when fielding when given oppertunities. this is why he isnt getting another chance yet! obvious reasons???

  • Batmanian on June 19, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    @Irishwolfhound, I think we do have a semi-lost half-generation - pretty much 1983-1990. The young bowlers are good, but batting-wise, it's a crapshoot. I'd be inclined to give a couple of youngsters a go. Someone like Khawaja looks so good at times in Shield; there's a Test player in him somewhere, but also concentration and stepping-up issues (which are possibly the same thing). Burns and Patterson are worth a shot. But if they're going to take the opportunity to cover Warner with Rogers we'll get: Watson, Cowan, Rogers, Hughes, Clarke,Smith/Khawaja/Faulkner, Haddin. I would say Pattinson, Siddle, maybe Starc and Lyon are the most likely bowlers at this stage. Huge weight of responsibility on Clarke's back, and on the tail to score and bowl out of their skins.

  • epochery on June 19, 2013, 20:30 GMT

    Personally I think Australia has a chance in this Ashes no matter what the current problems are. Their strengths are their pace bowling if they get it right. Englands weakness is inexperience in the batting lineup. Cook, Trott, Bell and Pieterson (if fit) will need to score heavily as I am not sure that Compton, Root or Bairstow have quite the intensity yet required to deal with a high pressure Ashes series. England's team is not quite settled since the retirement of Strauss and have yet to nail down no.6. I also worry about England's bowling consistency. But to be fair on paper are thebetter side, itis all down to the performance on the day.

  • on June 19, 2013, 19:11 GMT

    Fortunately all the conjecture is nearly over. Much sympathy for Clarke - he is perhaps the only world class player in the Australian side at present. The batting looks fragile, the medium / fast bowling may however surprise provided the team keeps fit. However, unless the wickets are green (which is unlikely in August even in England), personally I see the difference being that England's spinner(s) could run amok. However all this advance negativity could be simply a case of expectation management. A 2-0, 3-1 defeat could be 'spun' as a success. In a similar vein to how the Australian press overhyped medium raters 20 - 30 years ago to manipulate English selection, maybe English commentators and fans need to hype up how nervous we are of Phil Hughes striking form because he evinces "class" in warmup games, or the threat of Watson as a 4th bowler. This could be a Kim Hughes moment 25 years on

  • Wealwayslosethecricket on June 19, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    Regardless of the good or bad form they may have had, I think this is the real impact that the Aussie side has felt from the retirement of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. Even with Clarke as captain for the last few years, those two were the most senior players in the side, and formed an almost essential part of the squad's leadership group. Their retirement has had the effect on the team similar to that of a person who loses a limb- You take it for granted, and you can't function properly without it. What Australia needed, and still needs, is for the next most senior players (Watson, Haddin, perhaps Mitchell Johnson) to fill the void, but that hasn't happened, and the National Selection Panel certainly didn't recognise that; their selections over the last 6 months have been shocking. What we need more than anything else right now is strong leadership from Clarke and Haddin, and we need the youngsters to step up and prove they are future captain material. P.S. Great Article.

  • Sanj747 on June 18, 2013, 20:45 GMT

    Nice article. Spot on. Unfortunately Cricket Australia has such a vacuum in leadership both on and off the field. Reminds us of what the West Indies went and are atill somwehat going through after the greats hung up their boots. We have the underperforming 3 Ws - Watson, Warner and Wade all paid big money. I hope Khwaja is sitting quietly behind taking notice of a clear opportunity to step up and perform both on and off the field. If there is a time to cement a spot in the team it is very much now.

  • jlw74 on June 21, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    Attention Clarke haters please, rather then banging on about how terrible a captain he is could you please back up that argument with some validity??? He is scoring runs at a rate we have not seen since a certain DG Bradman was in his pomp some 80 years ago. He is an aggressive captain who sets wicket taking fields and supports his bowlers. He is prepared to take risks and not let the match meander. His problem has been some of the hair brain decisions made by our national selectors in recent times Glen Maxwell is not a test cricketer and neither yet is Moises Henriques. Steven Smith on the other hand looks like he may well be and I never thought I would say that. If our selectors pick the right side Clarke will lead from the front he is a better test captain then Cook who is conservative,tentative and right there is an advantage Australia already have. Its not the greatest Australian side of all time but be very careful writing them off just yet.

  • johnnycash on June 21, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    Simon Katich should still be opening when they walk out onto the field for day 1. If it wasn't for long gone Lara Bingle, most things would be ok in Australian cricket.

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on June 20, 2013, 19:14 GMT

    Australia cant simply hide behind this 'we lost ponting and hussey' excuse forever , everybody knew it was coming ,even India has lost out greats Dravid , laxman and sehwag, gambhir have also been struggling , but India has replaced them with younger talents and their absence is hardly felt.Get george bailey into side , he is a fighter

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on June 20, 2013, 19:00 GMT

    The real problem with Australian cricket is a genuine lack of young batting talent , which is quite surprising to an outsider like me because this was the same system which produced the likes of ponting , clarke , hussey , hayden , gilly , waugh brothers (and the list goes on) , Australia as of now, doesn't have any world class batsman (except a Michael Clarke with back problem), CA should fix the domestic scene first and wait .. until then there isn't much that can be done.

  • redneck on June 20, 2013, 1:53 GMT

    @Sirio mate feel free to leave if thats what you think of us. why does khawaja deserve another go. getting single digit scores against minnows for aus a isnt going to get him selected! is that the obvious reasons???? mate look at brad hodges unlucky career. he got dropped after making a double ton against south africa. hughes may look awful at the crease but atleast he has proven he can make scores. uzzy has not done this, infact he has looked out of his depth batting and lathargic and slow when fielding when given oppertunities. this is why he isnt getting another chance yet! obvious reasons???

  • Batmanian on June 19, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    @Irishwolfhound, I think we do have a semi-lost half-generation - pretty much 1983-1990. The young bowlers are good, but batting-wise, it's a crapshoot. I'd be inclined to give a couple of youngsters a go. Someone like Khawaja looks so good at times in Shield; there's a Test player in him somewhere, but also concentration and stepping-up issues (which are possibly the same thing). Burns and Patterson are worth a shot. But if they're going to take the opportunity to cover Warner with Rogers we'll get: Watson, Cowan, Rogers, Hughes, Clarke,Smith/Khawaja/Faulkner, Haddin. I would say Pattinson, Siddle, maybe Starc and Lyon are the most likely bowlers at this stage. Huge weight of responsibility on Clarke's back, and on the tail to score and bowl out of their skins.

  • epochery on June 19, 2013, 20:30 GMT

    Personally I think Australia has a chance in this Ashes no matter what the current problems are. Their strengths are their pace bowling if they get it right. Englands weakness is inexperience in the batting lineup. Cook, Trott, Bell and Pieterson (if fit) will need to score heavily as I am not sure that Compton, Root or Bairstow have quite the intensity yet required to deal with a high pressure Ashes series. England's team is not quite settled since the retirement of Strauss and have yet to nail down no.6. I also worry about England's bowling consistency. But to be fair on paper are thebetter side, itis all down to the performance on the day.

  • on June 19, 2013, 19:11 GMT

    Fortunately all the conjecture is nearly over. Much sympathy for Clarke - he is perhaps the only world class player in the Australian side at present. The batting looks fragile, the medium / fast bowling may however surprise provided the team keeps fit. However, unless the wickets are green (which is unlikely in August even in England), personally I see the difference being that England's spinner(s) could run amok. However all this advance negativity could be simply a case of expectation management. A 2-0, 3-1 defeat could be 'spun' as a success. In a similar vein to how the Australian press overhyped medium raters 20 - 30 years ago to manipulate English selection, maybe English commentators and fans need to hype up how nervous we are of Phil Hughes striking form because he evinces "class" in warmup games, or the threat of Watson as a 4th bowler. This could be a Kim Hughes moment 25 years on

  • on June 19, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    This Ozz side looking very unhealthy compared to Present Eng team!! The back to back to Ashes may be key to prepare future Aus team but they have risk Ashes for it, it's really good if they get good team after ashes or again team change and bringing youngsters will create big problems!!! Wanted to see good Aus side in one or two years because without Australian cricket performance, cricket will bored. I am sure there are good players in Sheffield Shield but don't know why they still depend on Warner, Hughes, Watson who really under performed in last couple of tests. May be Watson should be there because of his experience. We all wanted to see competitive ashes not like 5-0 for Eng

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on June 19, 2013, 17:35 GMT

    Clarke is one of the the best batsman in the world and not just Australia , and a great captain on the field too. he is aggressive, innovates and takes risks , but one area where i think he is failing is his man management skills off the field , from outside he looks like a dictator kind of guy and players are not feeling comfortable under him.

  • wrenx on June 19, 2013, 16:57 GMT

    The whole paradigm of "juniors/seniors" as a strict division used to feel like it was only really a big deal for the sub-continental teams. in the way the players, management and eventually commentators talked about them. For the other sides, it only came about when there was the occasional "elder statesman" in the team, never talking about the balance of "juniors" and "seniors". It seems that Australia are now leaning into this way of thinking about their team, and it's not necessarily a good thing.

  • on June 19, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    5 - 0 to England. Clarke has a lot of misery ahead of him I'm afraid....

  • AKS286 on June 19, 2013, 15:18 GMT

    "I don't know for sure how I would have handled that situation but those type of things didn't happen when I was captain."- PUNTER

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on June 19, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    Clarke has got to be tough like Steve Waugh. No one messed with him. He was ruthless on field and off. Warner should have been sent home as a warning, zero tolerance. As to Cosgrove not getting a mention, the only problem is his fitness. Although he is one of our most talented batsmen the authorities want athletes. I would stick him in the slips so he doesn't have to run. Boof, Warney, Merv, AB etc were all legends and overweight. If I was picking the team, what is needed are mature heads. So the likes of Bailey, Voges etc could go from odi to test teams as they are over there. Cowan, Rogers, Khawaja, Voges, Clarke, Bailey/Steve Smith, Pattinson, Harris, Lyon, Bird

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on June 19, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    This is why Australia are one of the weakest sides in the world. In the state that they are, they need a miracle in the Ashes. Both this one and the next.

  • on June 19, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    @Jayzuz: it is not a "fact" that Australia would have beaten Sri Lanka and NZ. It is your wishful thinking. They had enough time to chase the target in 50 overs against Sri Lanka (and they tried too) but failed. It is very convenient to blame it on the qualification run rate. And against NZ it was anybody's game with Taylor still at the crease and McCullum to come. The only "fact" is that AUS crashed out from a world event winless in the group stage, whether you like it or not.

  • Laki1993 on June 19, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    It is disappointing to see such a disjointed Australia side. As a cricket fan I want a competitive Ashes series where every match reaches tea on the 5th day with every result a possibility.

    No doubt a good outing in the Champions Trophy would have lifted confidence. 254 in 29 overs was possible, but required batsmen to stand up and be counted. What transpired were shocking shot selection namely by Watson, Hughes and especially Maxwell and Bailey undermining the chase. Australia should still have won the game (without qualifying for the semis), but a lack of application (Johnson, Faulkner) contributing to defeat.

    Clarke appears to have been told to back the line taken by the ACB and the coach - and publicly admonish players. Would have preferred to hear "he (Warner) made a mistake, he's apologised on numerous occasions, he's been disciplined - now let's forward from here".

    May be time for Australia to ditch James Sutherland & John Inverarity and bring in Allan Border & Merv Hughes.

  • BrianCharlesVivek on June 19, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    Sack Clarke and get Bailey as captain. Everything should be ok then. We all knew how he handled Symonds, Ponting and even Hussey. He is more of a disturbance than influence on the team. The selections are baffling and more baffling is their continued support to Clarke even after poor performances.

  • Jayzuz on June 19, 2013, 12:45 GMT

    While I think the management approach needs serious overhauling, I sure as hell hope nobody listens to the ignorance posted here. Clarke had two and a half excellent years as the captain, with only one very narrow test series loss to SA and one ODI series vs ENG. The rest was all goodish or very good - 3 test losses, 11 wins in 20 tests. Now, after THREE losses in India we are supposed to believe that he needs firing? That is just nuts. And the ODI squad - which was doing well coming into the tournament - cannot be blamed for the rain and NZs freakish run rate thanks to their having two shortened and low scoring games - which effectively eliminated AUS after just one loss in the CT. What you saw in the last game vs SL was completely distorted by AUS being effectively granted 21 overs less to score the same amount of runs as the opposition. After they lost a heap of wickets and stopped trying to score 12 runs an over we saw just how easy batting was, with Voges and the tailenders.

  • x-sl-boy on June 19, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    y not Australia try new cricketers, they will loose ashes any way...

  • milepost on June 19, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    Clarke just isn't right as captain nor is Arthur right as coach. I think it's time Australia faced these facts. I think the selectors need replacing too. Just pick the bast 6 batsman, the best 4 bowlers and the best keeper/batsman. Why is that so hard. At least fans like myself would know that at least we picked our best team, even if we do go down to England.

  • on June 19, 2013, 10:57 GMT

    I'll bet MC wishes he even has a bog average squad, not this club side in baggy greens.

  • creekeetman on June 19, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Clarke is the worst oz captain I have ever seen in terms of man management, and I can remember as far back as chappell. Clarke reminds me of lara, except lara was even a poor tactical captain as well as a horrible leader. time for a change of captain, coach and selectors.

  • balajik1968 on June 19, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Right now Australia looks to be in disarray, the quality of personnel suspect, the on fields performance not really great. Right now, England seem to have all bases covered. But cricket is a funny game. These very same guys may yet come good, and signal their resurgence. That said, I really wonder if these guys are Pakistanis in disguise, because Pakistan is the one team where you see all this, and it is when things look awful that somewhere something awesome comes out.

  • UAETigers on June 19, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    M.Clarke is the most insecure Captain and Middle order Aussie batsmen I have ever seen. In his regime as Captain leave great not even a single good player has emerged or make a permanent member of OZ team. He has ensure that Hussey is out of the way and played with Watson. Now there is no one to replace him in middle order!!! As far as he is a great spin batsmen I doubt it now as Jadeja got him out 5/6 times in three test he plays againt India. Monty Panesar will be a nightmare for him. The teal selects average and mediocre players who are continuously gailing at Internation level. The kind of players Aussie have in their lineup I doubt can make a debut in Waugh-Ponting era.

  • saw_been on June 19, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    Yea, we have been disappointed from the Aussies defeat. It is not their opponents were stronger than them it is coz the unfair decisions taken by the Australia; their team captain, couch & selectors. The team selection was really poor so do the performance as well in the Champions Trophy 2013.

    As per this if the Aussies now don't take any strong action they will win Ashes ??? The answer to this question is really doubtful.

    After Ricky & Hussy retired from the cricket Australia have not prepared long enough. It seems they can't overcome their best moments with the senior player.

    Now the Big Series "Ashes" is coming but if we see the Aussies, they are not really prepared with mentally & physically. The coach decisions are dramatic it hasn't give a really good solution to the team. Selection of the playing eleven is not so meaningful as Aussies have 5 openers in the squad. Is it a really good decision? Due to this middle order being week & week. But it doesn't matter to the team'

  • JimDavis on June 19, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    Don't worry, they will have plenty of time together, between now and the new year. It may be billed as back to back Ashes series by the media, but in reality, bragging rights will rest with whoever holds the Ashes after the Austrlian series. The second series being so close to the first means the England series is virtually meaningless and should be used to devise strategies for the Australian summer. The ultimate goal must be to win 3 of 5 tests in Australia.

  • Jayzuz on June 19, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    P Subramani Aiyar "they were losing their ODIs often". Sorry to correct you mate, but Australia have lost only one bi/trilateral series in ODIs in the past 3 years. If you know something different please let us know.

    It is beyond me how the media has completely distorted the reality of what is happening. The fact remains Australia would have beaten both SL and NZ given equal 50-over equations, beyond any reasonable doubt. Full credit to the team for going for the 29 over win vs SL. It was always a very long shot, and the most likely scenario prevailed. IMHO there is no shame in losing in such a fashion. But rather than acknowledging the context of this, the media and the many Oz haters out there simply launch into yet another bashing frenzy.

  • tmd1 on June 19, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    Sounds a lot like the English cricket team not that many years back.

  • on June 19, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    The culture of this team has serious flaws. The culprits should be banished for life never to be seen again. This is not the Australian way. Lets start again with some new blood that appreciate the responsibility of being in the Team. I hate losing but I'm prepared to lose these players unless they appreciate the tenure they have been given. Warner has done nothing at all for months. Hes turning into a prima donna who deserves the boot never to return. Onwards and upwards without them.

  • Jayzuz on June 19, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    All this over the top doom stuff is enough already! @Sanj747, 6 months ago Australia were one game away from the #1 test ranking and were flogging the Saffas, till the unfortunate Pattinson breakdown. Then they beat SL 3-0. So far their losing trot spans two months, so how you can compare it to the way the WI have gone is beyond me. Maybe you think those two months will turn into 20 years? It has to be admitted that the CT was mostly just terrible luck, with the team basically being eliminated after just one game thanks to bad weather and exceptional circumstances with NZ getting a 24 over game and a 1 wicket win in a very low scoring game, which elevated their run rate to a ridiculous level (they averaged 15 runs a wicket in the CT, Australia 25, so why this wasn't part of the equation is beyond me).

  • on June 19, 2013, 8:50 GMT

    The Australian team didn't care about the loss because it was a 50 over 1 day game. Nobody cares about that format any more and they haven't done for at least 5 years.

  • on June 19, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    I think we are equating behaviour and result and saying this caused that!!! There is no reason to believe that soft captaincy or behavior issues is leading to these kind of performance. Would like to refer to Ed Smith's article and feel that maybe we are all just over analysing to fill pages...http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/633259.html

  • on June 19, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    @Sharidas. Maybe Brad Hodge hasn't been considered due to the fact that he hasn't played a first class game since 2009 in Aus. T20 mercenaries are not the answer to the Aussies Ashes problems.

  • on June 19, 2013, 8:36 GMT

    I look at it diferently.

    It is good for Australia that this happened before Ashes than a controversy develop during Ashes.

    I only hope this makes Australia more stronger and we can witness a good contest.

  • on June 19, 2013, 8:27 GMT

    When things go wrong they go terribly so as India found out just after winning the World cup 2011. They were blanked in England and Australia, many of their proven match-winners got injured or lost form. They lost a home series against England something quite unthinkable, and after the IPL the match fixing saga raised its ugly head yet again.The signs of a return to better times came up when they thrashed Australia 4-0 at home.It seemed more so when Dhoni led the way with a brutal double hundred in the first Test.And then the class of Pujara Dhawan,Bhuvaneshwar and Jadeja showed that Indian cricket was on the way up again.Australia on the other hand seemed to be reviving by thrashing India 4-0 at home after their nightmarish loss to England in the Ashes at home.But this win seemed an aberration because they were losing their ODIs often and also in the Ashes.The ugly side is also cropping up too often.But with Pup coming back everything will be back to normal and they will win the Ashes

  • ravi_hari on June 19, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    Spot on Bettig. One of the resons why Aussies are not performing as a team is Clarke's handling of delicate issues. I think such things would have happened earlier too. But the captains had the skill to handle them and bring the focus back on cricket. I get the feeling that Clarke and Arthur are taking these things to cover up their failures. It is collective failure of captain and coach for non-performance and non-cricketing issues cropping up. I think it is high time CA sacks Arthur. Even when he was coaching SA he had such issues and only after Kirsten came SA actually improved rapidly. If SA wins CT, all credit will go to Kirsten. The second issue Aussies need to tackle is to quickly find a successor to Clarke. I dont think Clarke can continue for long and they need a leader very quickly. CA should speak to Watson and give him what he requires - confidence, cajoling, opening slot, etc. and nurture him to lead the side. Otherwise Aussies will go the Windies way down to the bottom.

  • sarangsrk on June 19, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    Saying sorry for being out drinking when you have lost doesn't make it equal, Mr Hughes. The loss should hurt so much that either you should have been practising and watching match videos or should have been just in your hotel room reflecting on how you can be better. Even as an Indian, I have been a fan of Aussie teams over the years who have been tough, hard working players regardless of the enormous talents they had. This team is not even close in either of the virtues when compared with team of 90s and 2000s. As this behaviour hurts me, I can only sympathise with Aussie fans who should be gutted about the players attitude on most important tours of their lives. I am also surprised that Clarke is not available with the team during the first warm up.

  • robin41284 on June 19, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    they should play with 6 specialist batsman, 1 spinner and 4 fast bowlers.....it should be.....WARNER, WATSON, ED COWAN, CLARKE, KHAWAJA, HADDIN, RYAN HARRIS, LYON, SIDDLE, STARC, PATTINSON

  • sharidas on June 19, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    I am surprised as to why Brad Hodge is not considered for the Ashes, by Australia.

  • timvenner on June 19, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    As I wrote yesterday - bring in Simon Katich. A lot of experience of wet English conditions playing for Lancs. at Old Trafford, and of the red ball. And a voice of sanity.

  • Doogius on June 19, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    Theres a very simple logic train here. Apparently when Clarkes 'around' everyone behaves because he 'leads by example' (excluding homework gate, Katto incident etc etc.). When he's not around, the boys run amok. He has a chronic captaincy, sorry meant back problem so he's not going to be around a lot. Therefore by logic, the boys will go crazy more often than not. So how exactly do we expect this situation to improve??? Ahh, that's right, we'll beat England and everything will be good. Coca cola said it best - it takes 7 years to develop a winning 'business' culture, and 6 months to destroy it. Probably about right...

  • Honeypotter on June 19, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    Clarky is in a situation where is has no Senior Colleague cricketers to consult with ....as all seniors have retired from international cricket and at this moment the team performace is also not of international level so clarky is left with new bunch of players and rightnow patience is the key my friend

  • Someguy on June 19, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    @Devarajan Varadharajan - Shaun Marsh may be more talented than Warner, Hughes and Rogers, as you say, but he is not missing because of politics. He is missing because he has been in woeful form.

  • deathstar01 on June 19, 2013, 6:55 GMT

    I dont know why Cosgrove is geting chance in the aussie team. he is superb for aus in tests in guess.

  • on June 19, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    @ Andy Salmon - the Tiger Moth was 90/91 Ashes.

  • hycIass on June 19, 2013, 6:10 GMT

    @Flemingmitch like you i see khawaja and Clarke firing for us but don't discount Warner just yet, he will come back strong, he is too good not too.

  • luks on June 19, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    Since when did having a few beers after a bad loss become objectionable? Ridiculous.

  • on June 19, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    Where is Shaun Marsh ? He is much better player than warner,hughes and rogers. Politics is playing leading role in selection.

  • Un_Citoyen_Indien on June 19, 2013, 5:22 GMT

    Well, well, well........one side accused of ball-tampering and the other that can't seem to do anything on this tour without creating controversy.

    A fine Ashes this is shaping up to be!

  • deathstar01 on June 19, 2013, 4:48 GMT

    Hope Aus will win this Ashes.

  • bramville on June 19, 2013, 4:36 GMT

    The current Aussie team has been the most vulnerable team to defeat, that has ever represented Australia. They have been loosing too many on the trot, which is the sign of a team that is struggling to come to terms with exit of some of the key players they had in the past. They don't seem to be playing as a team, like you have seen previous Aussie teams playing in the past.

  • RodStark on June 19, 2013, 4:08 GMT

    I actually think that the Aussies have done ok in terms of preparation. How many of the ashes squad are not already in England either in the CT squad, the A squad, or playing for a county? And then they do get to play a few games together before the first test. It's not like they're flying in unprepared as happens so often these days.

  • KhanMitch on June 19, 2013, 3:48 GMT

    @sanj747 i also think Khawaja will take his opportunity if he is given a descent go in this series. Him, Clarke and COwan can be our main run getters, Watson may come in as opener if Warner is not there in the first test and it will be interesting to see how he goes in his preferred position.

  • on June 19, 2013, 3:22 GMT

    History is made by teams written off before the series started. The '89 Aussies were branded "the worst team to leave our shores". Taylor's '97 squad lost the ODI series and first test before coming back to take the series. England's victorious 86/87 Gatting squad lost all warm up games (Remember Gower's Tiger Moth escapade?) and smashed us in that series. Time to regroup and start batting sessions and play like you mean it. Do us proud Aussies.

  • valvolux on June 19, 2013, 3:07 GMT

    This is just picking on Australia for the sake of it. So what you are saying is the champions trophy team is separate from the Australia a team? And those who weren't playing for Australia a (but still getting valuable time in the middle in county cricket) are separate again? Duh. Thanks for pointing that out Brett. Nothing to see here. Or why not write an article that ridiculously, england are letting 4 or 5 test players play in the champions trophy until just before the ashes...whilst kp is nowhere to be seen recovering from injury, whilst the rest of the squad is no where to be seen? Its the same thing isn't it and not even worth talking about. Can't wait for the clowns to turn on england when Patto and bird skittle england on day one of the first test.

  • sukmad on June 19, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    Its quite painful to see the Australians struggle. In the last two decades they have been a magnificent team playing a very attractive brand of no nonsense cricket. Sure, this team cannot be compared to Hayden Langer Waugh brothers,McGrath, Warne..team. But I think more is wrong with the present Australian team than the quality of players available to it at the moment and I think too much is made out of it as well. Clarke, unfortunately does not seem to be the right captain. He is too self centered, concerned more about his reputation, his form and fitness, his power within the team and his personal life than leading the team from the front and taking responsibilities. Fine player he still is, great captain he certainly is not. And Australia desperately needs someone to worry about his team than simply about himself.

  • Jafjaf on June 19, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    Good piece Daniel - inciteful and relevant. Cheers.

  • rsgarcia on June 19, 2013, 2:05 GMT

    It's time for Australia to face facts. Last year, there was all this 'we haven't lost a series' nonsense. As if draws had ever counted to Australians before. Now look where this slippery slope has brought you. Should have nipped it in the bud before you got here. Spent too many years sniggering at the West Indies and forgot to make sure you didn't end up in the same place. What goes up will come down if you get over-confident. I'd wish you luck climbing back up, but I honestly think you'll be a three man team for a while yet, so I'm not wasting my breath.

  • Sirio on June 19, 2013, 2:00 GMT

    @Sanj747, The Aussies will not play Khwaja for obvious reasons. The structure of the culture is such that they would only play him when he is not needed, just to show that they are not biased against him and then drop him again no matter what his performance will be (good or bad - as he will only be allowed to play when they think he is not really needed). i live in Australia and finally getting the intricacies of Aussie culture. Its fascinating the way they think. Unfortunately what will happen if Phil Hughes continues to fail? Answer is that they will find somebody else, but still will not give a chance to Khwaja.

  • Chris_P on June 19, 2013, 1:46 GMT

    @Vamsi Mohan Kavuri VM. Fighting attitude from Watson? You dream, my friend, he will never have the flair for a fight like Steve Waugh and his form simply doesn't warrant him being there. He should stick to T20 and disappear from real cricket. With the selected squad I can't see a turnaround. Too many disruptions, too many undeserving of a place.

  • on June 19, 2013, 1:40 GMT

    discipline and sportsmanship are important any form of game. being indisciplined might plunge a team or player into out of focus and sort of being disregard from the game they supposed be focused.

  • Batmanian on June 19, 2013, 1:30 GMT

    @Sanj747, totally don't understand the hating on Wade. He's a far more useful batsman than Haddin, who is not known for performing when the chips are down or leading the tail; it was keeping errors that got Wade dropped (and fair enough; he cost the team hundreds in India... still, he can improve). The way Khawaja has been performing in the UK, he won't get his third chance; Smith will take it instead. I guess if Clarke's out, they'll go with Khawaja, though. Cowan is probably just hanging in there, with Warner surely to get a rest. Rogers to get a chance, and Hughes and Watson not very secure. A lot of pressure on Pattinson to star; Siddle will shoulder the support role and Starc and Bird will click occasionally, but Pattinson is only genuine spearheads (until Cummins gets back). Fawad Ahmed has not claimed a shot yet; Lyon's not terrible, but not great either.

  • on June 19, 2013, 0:14 GMT

    A Sincere advice to Australian Cricket Board, Remove Michael Clarke as captain, he is a very good player but he absolutely is not a good leader. He is all talk and no work. He is no way compared to the like of other players like Ricky pointing, Steve waugh, Mark Waugh, Tom moody, or even Greg Chappell. Clarke is unfit to be a captain as he has never backed the players who performs better or is much talented. He has always let down good players like hussey's, Marsh, Ricky, Watson and so many good ones. Please remove him as captain and its time to appoint a new person as a captain for Australian team

  • HatsforBats on June 19, 2013, 0:04 GMT

    Each player contracted to play FC cricket is doing so and the Aus A tour continues, while those players not contracted to a county or part of the A tour are in training. And the tour officially starts next week, which is when the squad actually meets up. Where's the problem? It's not the spatial fragmentation of the squad or the scheduling of player commitments that is the problem. Player confidence and performance (specifically Watson & Hughes) is shot. I sincerely hope the warm up games are used as trial games; if you score the runs you get selected.

  • Rowayton on June 18, 2013, 23:49 GMT

    Largely agree with Sanj747, although I have my doubts if Khawaja is good enough to make it as a Test cricketer. Thinking about this issue makes me realise how much the West Indies should thank Darren Sammy for some of their recent successes. A strong captain can make a great deal of difference to a fractured team. Australian cricket has always been at its best when it has a respected tough nut as captain - Noble, Woodfull, Bradman, Chappell, Waugh etc. I've been a supporter of Clarke and neutral towards Arthur, but it may be time for a Lehmann/Haddin type of partnership, even if Haddin is not in the class of those others mentioned as a player.

  • on June 18, 2013, 23:28 GMT

    Spot on - good one Vamsi ;)

  • UnderDog1630 on June 18, 2013, 23:25 GMT

    Clark was never a captaincy material. He's a good batsman and the sub par leader. Imagine Watson being captain of this team. Everything will look better

  • Ozcricketwriter on June 18, 2013, 23:00 GMT

    I feel that Hughes and Warner could now be dropped from the test squad and replaced by the two ODI batsmen that did very well - George Bailey and Adam Voges. Bailey and Voges are much greater chances of success than Hughes and Warner. It is one thing to have earmarked test batsmen while they are performing but if they are not then we should follow South Africa's example by promoting the "ODI specialist" Faf du Plessis to test cricket. Maybe they would fail but it is worth a shot.

  • on June 18, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    A Sincere plead to Australian Cricket Board, Remove Michael Clarke as captain, he is a very good player but he absolutely is not a good leader. He is all talk and no work. He is no way compared to the like of other players like Ricky pointing, Steve waugh, Mark Waugh, Tom moody, or even Greg Chappell. Clarke is unfit to be a captain as he has never backed the players who performs better or is much talented. He has always let down good players like hussey's, Marsh, Ricky, Watson and so many good ones. Please remove him as captain and its time to appoint a new person as a captain for Australian team

  • on June 18, 2013, 21:25 GMT

    The fact that the squad is fragmented is symptomatic of current compressed nature of the tours in the old days Australia played 6 or 7 county sides before any international cricket so team spirit could be built . How can team spirit be built now without proper match practice as a full squad .rhe wallabies may give this out Saturday night . As a aside If Clarke is not fit to lead the team he should hand over the tour captaincy to Haddin he has the respect of all the players

  • on June 18, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    Excellent article. Well done.

  • on June 18, 2013, 20:42 GMT

    all these talks about Australian team will vanish if they start winning the games. Until then everyone will be after them. I simple feel that this Australian team will come back with fighting attitude and it should start from Haddin, Watson, Cowan and Starc. If they show some form and play to their potential then surely confidence will come back to this Australian team. I do not think Warner will be back to his best because he is to busy with off field activities. If he concentrates then he can too life the spirits of the team. Clarke role too is important but his fitness has become an issue, can he be fit for warm up games is big question. I hope this Australian side gives some fight in the Ashes series.

  • on June 18, 2013, 20:42 GMT

    all these talks about Australian team will vanish if they start winning the games. Until then everyone will be after them. I simple feel that this Australian team will come back with fighting attitude and it should start from Haddin, Watson, Cowan and Starc. If they show some form and play to their potential then surely confidence will come back to this Australian team. I do not think Warner will be back to his best because he is to busy with off field activities. If he concentrates then he can too life the spirits of the team. Clarke role too is important but his fitness has become an issue, can he be fit for warm up games is big question. I hope this Australian side gives some fight in the Ashes series.

  • on June 18, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    Excellent article. Well done.

  • on June 18, 2013, 21:25 GMT

    The fact that the squad is fragmented is symptomatic of current compressed nature of the tours in the old days Australia played 6 or 7 county sides before any international cricket so team spirit could be built . How can team spirit be built now without proper match practice as a full squad .rhe wallabies may give this out Saturday night . As a aside If Clarke is not fit to lead the team he should hand over the tour captaincy to Haddin he has the respect of all the players

  • on June 18, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    A Sincere plead to Australian Cricket Board, Remove Michael Clarke as captain, he is a very good player but he absolutely is not a good leader. He is all talk and no work. He is no way compared to the like of other players like Ricky pointing, Steve waugh, Mark Waugh, Tom moody, or even Greg Chappell. Clarke is unfit to be a captain as he has never backed the players who performs better or is much talented. He has always let down good players like hussey's, Marsh, Ricky, Watson and so many good ones. Please remove him as captain and its time to appoint a new person as a captain for Australian team

  • Ozcricketwriter on June 18, 2013, 23:00 GMT

    I feel that Hughes and Warner could now be dropped from the test squad and replaced by the two ODI batsmen that did very well - George Bailey and Adam Voges. Bailey and Voges are much greater chances of success than Hughes and Warner. It is one thing to have earmarked test batsmen while they are performing but if they are not then we should follow South Africa's example by promoting the "ODI specialist" Faf du Plessis to test cricket. Maybe they would fail but it is worth a shot.

  • UnderDog1630 on June 18, 2013, 23:25 GMT

    Clark was never a captaincy material. He's a good batsman and the sub par leader. Imagine Watson being captain of this team. Everything will look better

  • on June 18, 2013, 23:28 GMT

    Spot on - good one Vamsi ;)

  • Rowayton on June 18, 2013, 23:49 GMT

    Largely agree with Sanj747, although I have my doubts if Khawaja is good enough to make it as a Test cricketer. Thinking about this issue makes me realise how much the West Indies should thank Darren Sammy for some of their recent successes. A strong captain can make a great deal of difference to a fractured team. Australian cricket has always been at its best when it has a respected tough nut as captain - Noble, Woodfull, Bradman, Chappell, Waugh etc. I've been a supporter of Clarke and neutral towards Arthur, but it may be time for a Lehmann/Haddin type of partnership, even if Haddin is not in the class of those others mentioned as a player.

  • HatsforBats on June 19, 2013, 0:04 GMT

    Each player contracted to play FC cricket is doing so and the Aus A tour continues, while those players not contracted to a county or part of the A tour are in training. And the tour officially starts next week, which is when the squad actually meets up. Where's the problem? It's not the spatial fragmentation of the squad or the scheduling of player commitments that is the problem. Player confidence and performance (specifically Watson & Hughes) is shot. I sincerely hope the warm up games are used as trial games; if you score the runs you get selected.

  • on June 19, 2013, 0:14 GMT

    A Sincere advice to Australian Cricket Board, Remove Michael Clarke as captain, he is a very good player but he absolutely is not a good leader. He is all talk and no work. He is no way compared to the like of other players like Ricky pointing, Steve waugh, Mark Waugh, Tom moody, or even Greg Chappell. Clarke is unfit to be a captain as he has never backed the players who performs better or is much talented. He has always let down good players like hussey's, Marsh, Ricky, Watson and so many good ones. Please remove him as captain and its time to appoint a new person as a captain for Australian team