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July 4, 2013
Tom Moody, the former Australia cricketer and Sri Lanka coach, has described Australia's decision to sack Mickey Arthur as "inevitable" and suggested that the "respect was being lost" between the players and the coach in the weeks before his removal.
Moody, who played alongside the new coach, Darren Lehmann, in the Australia World Cup winning side of 1999, suggested Arthur was doomed from the moment that four members of the Test squad were sent home from the tour of India for disciplinary reasons.
He believed that the new appointment of Lehmann will help the side rediscover their enjoyment of the game and return to playing fearless cricket.
"It was clear during the Champions Trophy that the team were unsettled," Moody said. "They were walking on eggshells. They were uncertain of their own futures, they were uncertain of the team dynamic and they were uncertain how the team was going to perform.
"I said at the time that it was a dramatic decision to send players home from India. From that moment, it was going to very hard for the management to stay in control of that side.
"He had lost the trust and one of the most important things in the relationship between a coach and a player is trust.
"It's a dramatic thing to send players home because of an accumulation of misdemeanours and to me you've got to look at why guys are turning up five minutes late or wearing the wrong shirt. All those things do matter in a team environment, but it shouldn't result in losing a Test cap.
"The reasons are that maybe, slowly, respect was being lost between player and management and those bad habits were creeping in because of that. So it was inevitable the unfortunate situation with Mickey Arthur. I do feel for him because he is a good man and he's been a good coach over time but he had clearly lost control and Cricket Australia clearly sensed that."
Moody, who spent time with the team during their Investec Ashes warm-up game against Somerset at Taunton, said that the change in the environment once Lehmann was appointed was instant and positive. While he accepted the current Australian squad was more modestly talented than some of its predecessors, he felt that Lehmann's promotion would at least help create an environment where players could fulfil their ability.
"I spent some time with the side in Somerset and it was such a contrast to a week earlier," Moody said. "Where there had been a fragile side, there was a side that was suddenly enjoying playing cricket, which is the way I remember playing in any Australia team. It was an environment that was good fun and where everyone enjoyed each others' company. There was an underlying confidence in that atmosphere.
"Australia still have a lot of work to do. They haven't just inherited a Don Bradman with the bat or a Dennis Lillee with the ball. But the appointment of Lehmann means they have secured a mentor or coach who will create an environment where players will feel free to enjoy themselves within limitations and, more importantly, to express themselves under pressure on the field of play without fearing for the consequences if it doesn't go their way."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala