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July 18, 2013
James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, has declared the public airing of the former coach Mickey Arthur's dirty laundry on the national team "meaningless" after checking in on the revitalised tourists three weeks since he left them in the hands of Darren Lehmann in Bristol. Sutherland also said David Warner still needed to prove himself by his actions rather than words after completing his suspension for punching Joe Root.
Catching up with Australia's Ashes squad over a series of morning coffees at the team hotel in London on Wednesday, Sutherland could barely recognise them. Gone was the tension and worry that wracked the team during Mickey Arthur's final days, replaced instead by optimism, unity and energy. Sutherland also mingled with the players and coaches as they trained at Lord's on the eve of the second Test, and said the team was galvanised.
"I left the team three weeks ago. I had been back in Australia. I spent the morning catching up with everyone around the hotel and it's a different place, it's a different team and I'm really excited about the place this team is in," Sutherland said. "What I've seen in the last few days [regarding Arthur] I think 'so what'? It doesn't mean anything right now.
"It's not just the team environment talking about one or two relationships. I'm talking about the whole team environment. We've got a team that's galvanised and very, very focused and it showed in their performances I think at Nottingham and will hopefully continue to show for the rest of this series. You can see it in the way they're moving around the hotel, you can see the way they're moving around the ground.
"I know that by observation but I also know that by talking to people around the team this morning. The first thing I wanted to do when I got in was talk to people who I had spoken to three weeks ago. I'm not going to say who they were but you wouldn't have to be too smart to work out the people I've caught up with. The team is in a really good place. It's exciting for Australian cricket and I think it's starting to show on the field."
While understandably reluctant to go into the finer details of the Arthur legal battle that has now become a decidedly public affair despite being lodged confidentially with the Fair Work Commission in Sydney, Sutherland said CA were "very comfortable with our legal position". He also deflected questions about whether or not he could have done more to avoid the matter being dragged through the courts.
"It's easy for you to say that, and it's easy for you to say that and write that when I don't have a line of defence," he said. "All I ask is that you be a little bit sensitive to the fact that I can't come back at you because of the position I'm in right now with legal proceedings pending or whatever. I'd like to tell you you're wrong but I'm not going to get drawn into that right now because I can't."
As for Warner, whose attack on Root he had described as "despicable", Sutherland underlined his desire to see promising words backed up by action over a long period. "I had a couple of conversations and he's said he's remorseful," Sutherland said. "I've said at the same time that it's great to show remorse.
"What you have to do is back it up with actions and you don't back it up with actions over a couple of weeks, you need to back it up with actions for a couple of years and that's what we're looking for from him. We'll back him 100%. He's done the crime, he's done his time. He's got to fight his way back. We all want him to success. We'll all support him in whatever way we can to fight back but he's got to back that remorse up by his actions and be true to what he said."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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