The Investec Ashes 2013 June 27, 2013

Players 'too scared' under Arthur - Ponting

  shares 29

Ricky Ponting believes Australia's new coach Darren Lehmann will bring calm to the squad and instil the players with confidence after they appeared "too scared" under Mickey Arthur. Lehmann has now spent three days in charge of the squad after the surprise sacking of Arthur on Monday and he has less than two weeks to prepare the Australians for the first Investec Ashes Test, which begins at Trent Bridge on July 10.

The first opportunity for the batsmen under Lehmann's mentorship will come in Taunton on Thursday, when the Australians bat against Somerset in their ongoing tour match, and men like Phillip Hughes and Shane Watson will be desperate for big runs after struggling on the previous Test tour of India. Writing in the Daily Mail on Thursday, Ponting said it appeared as an outside observer that the pressure on the players had become too great under Arthur.

"The bottom line for me is that maybe the players had been put under too much pressure by the previous regime and that pressure needs to be released now," Ponting wrote. "It's hard to judge from afar but they seem to have been too scared to play the way they can. It's not a question of trying to live up to the great names of Australia's past, it's a question of the current group playing as well as they can."

Ponting played under Arthur for a year before his Test retirement in December and he has now spent seven months away from international cricket, watching as the Australians struggled in India and the Champions Trophy. He said that if a change of coach had to be made then there was no point waiting until after the series, and he believed that Lehmann would bring a sense of fun to the group.

"'Boof' has had a lot of success as a coach and even though I have never played under him I know exactly what he'll be like around the Australia team," Ponting wrote. "He will bring calmness to the group, make sure they try to have fun and enjoy the experience of playing for Australia. Above all, he will instil confidence into the young guys in the team who seem to be lacking it at the moment.

"Will this decision affect the outcome of the Ashes? Well, only time will tell. Australia could have won the first Test under Mickey Arthur and equally they could win it under Darren Lehmann. What I do know is that they need to be aggressive and take England on now. They will under Boof."

Ponting said it was his belief that Arthur's axing was the result mostly of Australia's on-field struggles over the past few months, although the off-field turmoil - the homework saga in India and David Warner's punch at Joe Root in England - had not helped. Ponting said he did not believe there was anything more Arthur could have done to prevent the Warner incident occurring, and he said the players needed to take some responsibility for the on-field failures as well.

"Everybody involved has to take responsibility for this and that includes the players," Ponting said. "There is only so much the coach can do. Once the players step over that line it is down to them and our displays clearly haven't been up to scratch."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY _Australian_ on | June 27, 2013, 4:40 GMT

    Absolutely agree with Ponting's comments. Especially "It not a question of trying to live up to the great names of Australia's past, it's a question of the current group playing as well as they can". That is Boof's job and Arthur's failure.

  • POSTED BY darkandlightblue on | June 29, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    With the appointment of Darren Lehmann we are likely to witness a much closer Ashes contest. Lehmann was the appointment that the players and management craved and for Michael Clarke the kindred spirit to share his ambitions.

    Darren Lehmann is likely to become one of the best coach/managers any international cricket team has had. His hands on and motivational approach were evident when Yorkshire's overseas player. He is confident, enjoys his cricket and wants to win.

    This appointement is very good for cricket. Let us enjoy a riveting and sporting Ashes summer.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    Hughes is fantastic batsman when he is offered long hops wide of the off stump Anything straight with a hint of swing or spin of high quality he is all at sea and struggles embarassingly.

  • POSTED BY deathstar01 on | June 28, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Hope Lehmann will change Aussie's recent records.

  • POSTED BY HansonKoch on | June 28, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    @ Red_Drag0n Hard to argue a case in favour of Khawaja over Hughes.

    Hughes earned his spot by hitting a bunch of hundreds at Shield and County level. He was a clear standout on the lower rung. Kwahaja, not so much.

    Although there's certainly a case for dropping Hughes on the basis of fragile Test performance, what has Khawaja done to demonstrate he's the heir apparent?

    Can anyone explain the hype surrounding Khawaja? It's not like he's Matthew Hayden when he was averaging over 100 for the season. He's not even averaging 50.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2013, 7:28 GMT

    The problem is lack of guardians. Like what Steve Waugh did to Ponting. How he took care of him. Talent was never a problem for Australia. It's the attitude and dedication to the game is lacking.

  • POSTED BY David_Bofinger on | June 28, 2013, 6:24 GMT

    If one player fails to do his homework that reflects badly on the player. If four do it reflects badly on players and coach - the coach has failed to communicate, or failed establish his authority, certainly something is wrong.

    I suspect Lehmann for Arthur is a good change, but there are big problems in selection too and I'm not sure if those are fixed yet. I think Ponting, with his strong interest in young players, would make a great selector.

  • POSTED BY Red_Drag0n on | June 28, 2013, 2:26 GMT

    I don't think there is a lack of talent (apart from Phillip Hughes). Main thing needs to be worked out is the right combination of batsmen. Bowling combination doesn't seem to be the problem. Should give more chances to Khawaja. He is any day better batsman than Hughes.

  • POSTED BY leighsydneychina on | June 28, 2013, 0:58 GMT

    It's interesting to compare iPL and test cricket. . But not really valid. Test is the key word. .to play test cricket requires mental toughness. ..physical toughness and strong leadership. .. Australia is lacking in all of these areas from the administration to on-field captaincy. Australia will have a lean time of it for a few years yet. This is similar to the pre Alan Border era. We have NO leaders nor any toughness in the team.

  • POSTED BY icknid on | June 28, 2013, 0:22 GMT

    The best first aid that Lehmann can do, in the short time he has, is to instill into the Aussie team to put national pride over any personal issues. Ego's are big on both sides - it's the nature of modern sports with well paid stars. With England, stars such as KP know exactly where they will stand if a boundary is crossed. To win for your country should be the ultimate goal -I don't know, maybe I'm old fashioned. Having said all that, KP would do ok even if he falls out of favour with the England establishment.....because he has the BIG, FAT IPL!

  • POSTED BY _Australian_ on | June 27, 2013, 4:40 GMT

    Absolutely agree with Ponting's comments. Especially "It not a question of trying to live up to the great names of Australia's past, it's a question of the current group playing as well as they can". That is Boof's job and Arthur's failure.

  • POSTED BY darkandlightblue on | June 29, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    With the appointment of Darren Lehmann we are likely to witness a much closer Ashes contest. Lehmann was the appointment that the players and management craved and for Michael Clarke the kindred spirit to share his ambitions.

    Darren Lehmann is likely to become one of the best coach/managers any international cricket team has had. His hands on and motivational approach were evident when Yorkshire's overseas player. He is confident, enjoys his cricket and wants to win.

    This appointement is very good for cricket. Let us enjoy a riveting and sporting Ashes summer.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    Hughes is fantastic batsman when he is offered long hops wide of the off stump Anything straight with a hint of swing or spin of high quality he is all at sea and struggles embarassingly.

  • POSTED BY deathstar01 on | June 28, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Hope Lehmann will change Aussie's recent records.

  • POSTED BY HansonKoch on | June 28, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    @ Red_Drag0n Hard to argue a case in favour of Khawaja over Hughes.

    Hughes earned his spot by hitting a bunch of hundreds at Shield and County level. He was a clear standout on the lower rung. Kwahaja, not so much.

    Although there's certainly a case for dropping Hughes on the basis of fragile Test performance, what has Khawaja done to demonstrate he's the heir apparent?

    Can anyone explain the hype surrounding Khawaja? It's not like he's Matthew Hayden when he was averaging over 100 for the season. He's not even averaging 50.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2013, 7:28 GMT

    The problem is lack of guardians. Like what Steve Waugh did to Ponting. How he took care of him. Talent was never a problem for Australia. It's the attitude and dedication to the game is lacking.

  • POSTED BY David_Bofinger on | June 28, 2013, 6:24 GMT

    If one player fails to do his homework that reflects badly on the player. If four do it reflects badly on players and coach - the coach has failed to communicate, or failed establish his authority, certainly something is wrong.

    I suspect Lehmann for Arthur is a good change, but there are big problems in selection too and I'm not sure if those are fixed yet. I think Ponting, with his strong interest in young players, would make a great selector.

  • POSTED BY Red_Drag0n on | June 28, 2013, 2:26 GMT

    I don't think there is a lack of talent (apart from Phillip Hughes). Main thing needs to be worked out is the right combination of batsmen. Bowling combination doesn't seem to be the problem. Should give more chances to Khawaja. He is any day better batsman than Hughes.

  • POSTED BY leighsydneychina on | June 28, 2013, 0:58 GMT

    It's interesting to compare iPL and test cricket. . But not really valid. Test is the key word. .to play test cricket requires mental toughness. ..physical toughness and strong leadership. .. Australia is lacking in all of these areas from the administration to on-field captaincy. Australia will have a lean time of it for a few years yet. This is similar to the pre Alan Border era. We have NO leaders nor any toughness in the team.

  • POSTED BY icknid on | June 28, 2013, 0:22 GMT

    The best first aid that Lehmann can do, in the short time he has, is to instill into the Aussie team to put national pride over any personal issues. Ego's are big on both sides - it's the nature of modern sports with well paid stars. With England, stars such as KP know exactly where they will stand if a boundary is crossed. To win for your country should be the ultimate goal -I don't know, maybe I'm old fashioned. Having said all that, KP would do ok even if he falls out of favour with the England establishment.....because he has the BIG, FAT IPL!

  • POSTED BY Charlie101 on | June 27, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    A number of unperforming Aussie players such as Hughes did not seem at all scared under Mickey as it did not matter how few runs they scored they were always selected because they were mates with the captain.

    The telling thing has been that Clarke has "resigned " as a selector - that tells you everything about the crazy Aussie selections ( Katich / Maxwell / Hughes etc )

  • POSTED BY latecut_04 on | June 27, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    Really interesting times for Aussie cricket..to say the least..i am from India and the same accusation was raised against a cretain Greg Chappel by the Indian players a few years back.It seemed that was the way Aussies played.get as tough as you could both as a player and coach mostly on yourself and either perform or perish.NOW Aussie players feeling scared by a Saffer coach???One would have thought Aussie international cricketers would have been mentally tough for that stuff regaardless of their talent/skill.Also this is being said by Ricky who was known(sometimes infamous maybe..but neverthless he was tough..)for being one of the toughest in the ring in his days.Nolw is Boof trying to soften up and be jolly with the players...will be interesting to note..

  • POSTED BY bumble23 on | June 27, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    It is really unfair to make comments about a coach after he has been shown the door. As they say a coach is only as good as his bunch of players. A player of pontings calibre making such a comment is only casting poor light on australian cricket. The truth is the current bunch of aussies with the exception of clarke, watson doesnt possess the mental strength required to tough it out when the situation demands. That is the primary reason behind the 0-4 drubbing they received in india and the poor show in the champions trophy. To make a match of this ashes series australia have to put decent runs on the board. The bowling will shine for sure. It is the batsman who need to get their acts together.

  • POSTED BY Clyde on | June 27, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    I believe Arthur scared even cricket followers. It was as if he had so much power behind him. He was so damned capable. I don't think any normal player was in his class. He even would even have made the Australian badge a 'brand', he is reported to have said, toward the end. I would not have liked to try to measure up to Mickey. I feel foolish just at the thought of him. I hope now ordinary whackers and flingers and catchers of cricket balls are free to do just these things and nothing more. Yes, I am joyful about the prospect.

  • POSTED BY sharidas on | June 27, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    Michael Clarke as a batsman is certainly one of the best, but he does not make a good leader. Perhaps Brad Haddin might be a better choice as captain in the current team.

  • POSTED BY pull_shot on | June 27, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    Patience is the key to build and trusting the players is important which r not there clearly with aurther players should enjoy themselves while playing. There is some thing wrong with clarke attitude u can c it in cases of katich,symonds and the way hussey,punter retired.

  • POSTED BY sundar_p63 on | June 27, 2013, 13:25 GMT

    Shane Watson , Mitchell Marsh , James Faulkner , Steve Smith , Mitchell Marsh , Mitchell Jhonson , David Warner ..... All these guys did well in this years IPL , so its obvious something somewhere was wrong in OZ cricket which the players were unable to handle . Good Luck to Darren Lehman n team

  • POSTED BY couchpundit on | June 27, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    Will i be surprised if ponting says players where too afraid under Captain/selector Clarke. NO!!

    Unless a team man is made as captain...its really tough for Australian cricket to pull up its socks. How long will Australians be blind to fact Clarke is not captain material...he might be the best batsman...but captain no...case in point Sachin Tendulkar

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | June 27, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    I didn't see the Australian players looking scared. I saw them losing wickets to reckless shots. I saw them showing a lack of technique which was not being addressed. I saw them hanging around in bars at 2.30am after they'd lost. I saw them failing to complete tasks the coach and captain had set them. None of that looked like scared to me- in fact, quite the opposite. They didn't seem to care particularly how they performed or the team was perceived.

    Lehmann's first task is to get them feeling a sense of responsibility and pride at representing the greatest-ever cricketing nation. Then he has to get them to become a team in which success of the side means more than personal pleasure. Then he has to address their technique issues.

    It's a lot to ask in a couple of weeks, but it's amazing how quickly good management can turn around a bad situation. I wish him all the luck in the world.

  • POSTED BY paapam on | June 27, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    Clarke lacks the leadership qualities to lead what is a weak team. Australia need a captain who is not obsessed with himself. Clarke as an ordinary batsman-member is destined for cricketing greatness. If he does not step down he will deny himself this opportunity.

  • POSTED BY on | June 27, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    "it's a question of the current group playing as well as they can." Maybe they are playing as well as they can and they are just not very good.

  • POSTED BY on | June 27, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    I think time will show that Pontings rantings are incorrect. The current stock of Aus players are just not as talented as the previous batch. Mickey Arthur just exposed that fact.

  • POSTED BY michael1007 on | June 27, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    Darren may well bring "calm to the squad" as Ricky says but it will not lift on-field performance because at the end of the day you have to have players with talent. There are few players with world class talent in the aust team right now. You can talk your head off about management, Michael Clarke's back, the alignment of Venus and Mars, Mickey Arthur's incompetence, David Warner's right hook, but you need guys who can really play. Australia does not have players who can play. And the worst part about it is that guys who really need to be saying it out loud are not. Shane Warne, the greatest mouth who ever graced a cricket field, is even saying that Nathan Lyon is a good spinner. There is an obvious choice for Australian coach and it isn't Darren. . .it's Kevin Pietersen. Can we just get hime naturalised?

  • POSTED BY BrianCharlesVivek on | June 27, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    Good decision. He s not a great player, but everytime he played, we can see he enjoys it . If he can bring that in the current dressing room, with the bowling attack they have, they can become favourites for the World Cup which comes in 2 years time. I beleive they will lose teh series in England, but still can fight back down under.

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | June 27, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Punter , why don't become our batting coach ? Couldn't think of a more appropriate one than you.

  • POSTED BY Romanticstud on | June 27, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    Let us put it this way ... He played for Free State and then for Griquas ... never really got considered for South Africa as a player ... Mistake 1 ... letting him coach South Africa ... Best news ... letting him go ... Mistake 2 ... Letting Australia have him as head coach ... Second best news ... He now no longer coaches Australia ... Cricket can only really be coached these days by someone who has experienced the Psychology of playing at the highest level ... Darren Lehmann will do good for Australian cricket ... Just as Gary Kirsten did for India and then South Africa ... Cricket is about feeling comfortable with the coach ... Good luck Boof ... and Australia ... from a South African ...

  • POSTED BY on | June 27, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    thats a very good decision!!!

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | June 27, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    Arthur's promotion was a shock. His sacking was not.

  • POSTED BY on | June 27, 2013, 4:42 GMT

    One of the best coaches there is today in modern day cricket

  • POSTED BY on | June 27, 2013, 4:42 GMT

    One of the best coaches there is today in modern day cricket

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | June 27, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    Arthur's promotion was a shock. His sacking was not.

  • POSTED BY on | June 27, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    thats a very good decision!!!

  • POSTED BY Romanticstud on | June 27, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    Let us put it this way ... He played for Free State and then for Griquas ... never really got considered for South Africa as a player ... Mistake 1 ... letting him coach South Africa ... Best news ... letting him go ... Mistake 2 ... Letting Australia have him as head coach ... Second best news ... He now no longer coaches Australia ... Cricket can only really be coached these days by someone who has experienced the Psychology of playing at the highest level ... Darren Lehmann will do good for Australian cricket ... Just as Gary Kirsten did for India and then South Africa ... Cricket is about feeling comfortable with the coach ... Good luck Boof ... and Australia ... from a South African ...

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | June 27, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Punter , why don't become our batting coach ? Couldn't think of a more appropriate one than you.

  • POSTED BY BrianCharlesVivek on | June 27, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    Good decision. He s not a great player, but everytime he played, we can see he enjoys it . If he can bring that in the current dressing room, with the bowling attack they have, they can become favourites for the World Cup which comes in 2 years time. I beleive they will lose teh series in England, but still can fight back down under.

  • POSTED BY michael1007 on | June 27, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    Darren may well bring "calm to the squad" as Ricky says but it will not lift on-field performance because at the end of the day you have to have players with talent. There are few players with world class talent in the aust team right now. You can talk your head off about management, Michael Clarke's back, the alignment of Venus and Mars, Mickey Arthur's incompetence, David Warner's right hook, but you need guys who can really play. Australia does not have players who can play. And the worst part about it is that guys who really need to be saying it out loud are not. Shane Warne, the greatest mouth who ever graced a cricket field, is even saying that Nathan Lyon is a good spinner. There is an obvious choice for Australian coach and it isn't Darren. . .it's Kevin Pietersen. Can we just get hime naturalised?

  • POSTED BY on | June 27, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    I think time will show that Pontings rantings are incorrect. The current stock of Aus players are just not as talented as the previous batch. Mickey Arthur just exposed that fact.

  • POSTED BY on | June 27, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    "it's a question of the current group playing as well as they can." Maybe they are playing as well as they can and they are just not very good.

  • POSTED BY paapam on | June 27, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    Clarke lacks the leadership qualities to lead what is a weak team. Australia need a captain who is not obsessed with himself. Clarke as an ordinary batsman-member is destined for cricketing greatness. If he does not step down he will deny himself this opportunity.