The Investec Ashes 2013 June 28, 2013

Watson denies part in Warner affair


Shane Watson has emphatically denied any part in calling David Warner to account for the night out in Birmingham with other Australian team-mates during the Champions Trophy that involved the punching of Joe Root and contributed to the sacking of the coach Mickey Arthur.

However Watson stated that the decision of Arthur and the captain Michael Clarke to suspend four players including himself for failing to follow team instructions in India earlier this year had set a "dangerous precedent", and lauded the new coach Darren Lehmann for dissipating the tension that had built up in the team over the past six months, a period in which he admitted to "not having much fun".

Reports emerged in the aftermath of Warner's suspension for the Root incident that it was only dealt with formally after Watson had referred to it in conversations with Arthur about disciplinary standards and their consistent application. At the time Watson did not comment publicly on the matter, but in the first days of Lehmann's new coaching regime he spoke frankly, rejecting all notions he had forced the disciplinary process that had Warner suspended until the first Test against England at Trent Bridge.

"Absolutely not," Watson said when asked if he had informed Arthur of events at the Walkabout. "In the end the coaching staff and Mickey and the leadership group found out about Dave's incident off their own bat. It had absolutely nothing to do with me in any way shape or form and I'm not sure why that was brought out in the media because it certainly wasn't the truth.

"They obviously found out, there were some people who were in and around the incident at the time who had relayed the information, so it certainly had nothing to do with me. The precedent that was set through Mohali was quite a dangerous precedent, there's no doubt about that. But in the end this is now a new group, a new leadership group, new team dynamics obviously with Darren coming in, so I'm not looking back any more at the things that happened in the past.

"This is a change for all of us which is a very good thing. I'm not looking back at what happened in the last few months, I'm just excited about what we're doing now as a group and what Darren is going to bring to our team."

Watson's happiness about Lehmann's arrival is only partly explained by the decision to promote him to open the batting. Arthur's close alliance with the captain Michael Clarke had marginalised Watson somewhat, as injuries and an inconsistent job description contributed to his decline from the personal heights he reached under Ricky Ponting. He was happy to admit that the team would now play more fearlessly under Lehmann, who had already encouraged the members of the Ashes squad to express themselves with the bat.

"The way Darren operates is a more light-hearted way," Watson said. "He played the game for the enjoyment and as a coach one of the big things he instils in the group is to make sure we are having fun. There were certainly times after Mohali that I wasn't having that much fun, and that is something Darren has ensured, that things are little bit less tense and more about enjoying the absolute privilege of playing cricket for Australia.

"It should be the time of our life, it's a dream come true, and that is something Darren has instilled. Darren's perspective on the game is to go out and back your talent and not worry about failing at all, that's going to be part of the game of cricket. Things in that regard will change because that is how Darren played. He will make sure everyone does that with bat or ball, that people aren't worried about failing, more so about showing how good they are."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Logan on June 29, 2013, 5:58 GMT

    @Gautum N. Shenoy

    You forgot Watson, Warner and the rest except Clarke. Unfortunately the Skipper maybe the biggest problem, not the former coach. Brilliant with bat in hand, that cannot be doubted, however major flaws with the other resposibilities the captaincy holds. Can't see too many other members of the team playing for him and thus the mighty "Baggy Green" is fading rapidly.

  • rob on June 29, 2013, 1:33 GMT

    Let's see now. We've got some homework issues, a playground snitch, some tit for tat in the locker room and a resounding "it wasn't me Sir !!". .. it all sounds a bit juvenile to me.

    I think it might be fair to say that things have been a little tense in the camp lately. It shows on the field as well. If Boof can do something to ease the tension and get their minds back onto cricket then that's got to be good. ..

    @ Westmorlandia : Point taken, but here's something for you in return. I sometimes wonder how things would look if Jimmy got injured. Not that I'm wishing it on him, he's a fine bowler to watch. Even an Aussie like me can appreciate his skill, but I wonder if that would even things up a tad if he wasn't there.

  • jason j on June 29, 2013, 0:45 GMT

    As a Australian supporter, I am disgusted form our teams performance on and off the field... Our team has deep seeded problems which include over payment to players who under achieve, Warner is so over rated as too is Watson (just look at the avg's)... The next problem is we are not promoting players who will take us to the next level (see Finch, Pomersbach, coulter-nile) because these prima donnas like Warner and Watson are on huge contracts and the Australian board cant afford to pay them out... here lies the biggest problem the contract system is killing our international side, fix the administration (ie sack the person for employing Arthur as well)... Australia will be easy beats for at least another 10 years if something is not done soon... Don Bradman would be turning in his grave at the state of things...

  • Matt on June 28, 2013, 23:25 GMT

    @portman, given no one expects us to win and a proportion of the English media and past players predicting 10-0 and 5-0, can't really see how we will need to eat humble pie if we win or draw any of the tests given how much better England is supposed to be. There will be a lot of English fans who will be surprised with how well this team will do under a better mentor and coach. Arthur didn't have the respect of the players or supporters, Lehmann does and that is a massive difference.

  • Gopalakrishna on June 28, 2013, 22:35 GMT

    one thing to remember, Australia playing good cricket is good for entire cricket. I'm an Indian and back India cricket team, but my second home team always been Australia and following ashes from almost when I was 5 or 6 years old. They play very intrinsic cricket on the filed and granite nose attitude of OZ brings extra flavor to Cricket. We all Indians enjoyed beating great Steve Waugh's, Taylor's and Greg's and Ian's OZ team than beating current OZs, is it not?. That means even England would be taking current crop lightly, but they are doing a mistake. I still feel the current OZ bowling line is very good, except that they are missing one great spinner like Warne. If he himself comes forward to help develop some good spinner then there is nothing like that to world cricket. Warne please do so and give world another class act like you. You were the best poster in world cricket not long ago and we can never forget the pleasure you gave on world cricket scene. Man come up with good tip

  • Dummy4 on June 28, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    All Aussie supporters are assuming that Lehmann will suddenly and magically transform this talentless outfit into a world beating side. A coach can only do so much. with players like Hughes, Smith, Cowan, Maxwell and Lyon, this team cannot do much better, really. The best Aussies can hope is that English rain continues beyond the champions trophy and helps them avoid 5-0

  • Ali on June 28, 2013, 21:07 GMT

    Australia are really falling apart. I think that this dramatic drop in the skill of the team has mainly been dependent on something to do with the team chemistry. Something that was glimpsed upon by the suspension of four players during the tour of India due to an un completed post game reflection. That decision made by the coach really reflects that something is not clicking with the chemistry of the team.

  • Logan on June 28, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    A lot of comments here about what a great decision it is to bring Lehmann in. Wriggling a few batting positions isn't going to change the fact that Australia can't bat. They are particularly weak, bordering on laughable against spin and what will the English prepare for them when it comes to wickets? Swann will be licking his lips. Looking forward to watching this series and the amount of humble pie the Aussies are going to consume.

  • Par on June 28, 2013, 18:03 GMT

    So Arthur made Watson feel left out ? Big deal, these guys are professional, being paid millions and as he is finally realizing they should feel privileged to represent nation at highest level. There is the insinuation of Arthur being Saffer lets blame problems on him and as if Darren comes with some magic wand (all due respect). Why do one has to come and instill them the feeling that they need to enjoy cricket or go out and express or make them realize this is dream come true? If you dont feel that way, there would be 10 other youngsters who would be itching to take that spot. Besides it's not Arthur's leadership or lack of thereof or What Clarke said in who's ear has made Watto underachieve in Test cricket (2 hundreds?) but his own lack of application and that ever dangerous "feel free to express yourself attitude" which has caused the downfall. Go back to basics, apply yourself at crease, protect your wicket like your life depends on it.

    Its pretty elementary my dear Watson!

  • Akash on June 28, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    I'm amazed how much the Australians (both players and support staff) talk to the media! They just can't seem to restrain themselves. You do not need to hide things from the world, but you do not need to say out loud anything and everything that you feel either. What is the need to say that "I wasn't having much fun" or "The Mohali decision set a dangerous precedent"? What exactly is the point of such statements, other than giving another topic to the soundbyte-hungry media to rip into? Do these guys pause to think of the impact their statements have on their own team members? Sometimes, I almost feel like people like Dhoni, who is often crticised for giving diplomatic answers to media inquiries, are the ones who have got it right. Nothing good can ever come from answering the media this frankly.

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