Australia news June 24, 2013

Mickey Arthur sacked as Australia's coach

Mickey Arthur has been sacked as Australia's head coach less than three weeks before the start of the Investec Ashes and is expected to be replaced by Darren Lehmann. Cricket Australia is yet to officially announce the decision but the chief executive James Sutherland and general manager of team performance Pat Howard are due to hold a press conference in Bristol on Monday morning (UK time) to confirm the move.

It has also been reported that the captain Michael Clarke will relinquish his role as a selector as part of the change in structure that will be announced by Sutherland and Howard. Whether Lehmann would remain a selector is unclear.

Lehmann, who is in England having just finished a tour as the mentor of Australia A, has won rave reviews for the somewhat old-school approach he has taken with Queensland since he was appointed in 2011 and is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in Australian cricket.

But whatever the case, the axing of Arthur so close to the first Ashes Test, which begins on July 10, has left the Australian camp in a state of disarray. The squad was due to meet in Taunton on Monday ahead of their first tour game against Somerset, with some of the players having been part of the Australia A squad, some having been playing in the Champions Trophy and others having been warming up in county cricket.

The team will need to quickly become accustomed to the absence of Arthur, who was named head coach in November 2011. He replaced Tim Nielsen and the move came in the wake of the Argus Report into Australia's team performance, which was commissioned after Australia's thrashing at the hands of England in the home Ashes in 2010-11.

During Arthur's time in charge, Australia won 10 of their 19 Tests but the past few months had been especially challenging both on field and off it. The calamitous 4-0 defeat in India was overshadowed by the so-called homework sackings halfway through the trip, in which Arthur, captain Michael Clarke and team manager Gavin Dovey stood four players down for a Test for failing to complete an off-field task.

The Champions Trophy campaign, in which Australia failed to win a match, was also dominated by events away from the game, when David Warner punched England batsman Joe Root in a pub. Warner was suspended until the first Ashes Test but the incident raised questions about why a group of Australia players were out until the early hours of the morning following a loss.

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

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