Australian cricket coach Mickey Arthur remains unrepentant despite widespread criticism over the sacking of four players for disciplinary reasons.
Vice-captain Shane Watson, part-time batsman Usman Khawaja and bowlers James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson were suspended for the third Test after failing to adhere to the team ethos.
Arthur was unconcerned that Johnson and Pattinson complained that they were unaware what was required.
‘Just because they didn’t know what ethos meant is no excuse,’ Arthur said. ‘I’ve always said, particularly to the fast bowlers, if I use a word they don’t understand they need to ask. I’ve got a dictionary over here.’
Johnson, who was left out of the first two Tests, was in contention to play in the third at Mohali where conditions will better suit the fast bowlers.
‘The pitch hasn’t been mowed for weeks because the groundsman’s lawn mower broke down,’ Arthur said. ‘Mitchell is best suited to these kind of pitches, so he’ll be a big loss.
‘Khawaja wasn’t in contention either, despite our batting woes,’ Arthur admitted. ‘I’ve only just found out he was part of the touring party. I thought he was the bus driver. No wonder he gave me a strange look when I asked him if he’d ever been to Australia.’
News of the sackings has shocked the cricket world. The official reason offered by Arthur and endorsed by Australian captain Michael Clarke didn’t seem on the level.
The quartet was suspended for failing to meet a deadline. A three-point presentation on improving performance was due on Saturday. By Monday, when it hadn’t been delivered, they were out of the team.
‘I presented my views,’ Clarke said. ‘I told Mickey we needed a new coach.’
Clarke agreed the sackings were harsh, but said he fulfilled his commitments according to the team ethos, just like the others should’ve.
‘I’m really disappointed in Mitch, Patto and Watto. All they had to do was tell Mickey how they felt and they couldn’t. It’s a shame, because Mickey might’ve been really surprised at what they had to say.
The captain scoffed when asked if he was disappointed in Khawaja. ‘Not really,’ he said. ‘Mickey kept telling me he was the bus driver and as Mickey is the coach I had to agree with him, so he wasn’t in contention to play anyway.’
Though Arthur and Clarke admitted standards had dropped recently they wouldn’t be drawn on specific reasons.
‘It’s just been an accumulation of things,’ Arthur said.
‘Little things,’ Clarke said. ‘Just our standards that have slipped, and it’s unacceptable.’
Clarke may claim the situation has become unacceptable but it is clear the players are confused with their homework.
Mitchell Starc thought presentation meant examination, so he walked into Mickey’s room, dropped his pants, turned around and gave his coach a browneye.
It’s believed Arthur was unimpressed when Peter Siddle and Nathon Lyon also claimed to be confused by the definition of presentation, and offered their own browneyes.
Siddle, following some initial embarrassment, is reported to have asked if his browneye was clean enough.
The Ramble understands things within the Australian camp have been simmering for months. Arthur is said to be pedantic about hygiene.
Though it was kept hushed, Nathan Lyon’s axing on technical issues had more to do with his refusal to clean his fingernails than leaking runs. A source close to the team said Lyon was fined $5000 for not packing a nailbrush or nail clippers, and a further $5000 for not presenting his fingers to Arthur before play on the first day of the first Test.
Lyon’s suggestion that he’d chew his nails raised his coach’s ire. It’s believed Lyon was also fined $5000 for ironing a cotton shirt with the iron set for linen.
Arthur’s dedication to discipline has become infamous in the past two years. Cricket Australia refused to speculate about the level of fines meted out on the Test squad, but sources close to the side said Arthur was ‘mad on fines.’
A leaked email revealed the extent of recent fines Arthur has slapped on the Australian side.
|failure to clean teeth twice a day|
|failure to recover from injury quickly|
|failure to get dropped from Test side|
|fined $5000 for each missed catch|
|for getting Clarke out in the nets|
|for throwing cricket ball at Arthur|
|failure to grow beard on tour|
|failure to shave on tour|
|failure to win first two tests|
Former captain Ricky Ponting has distanced himself from the current calamity raging around the team.
‘I paid all my fines,’ Ponting said. ‘I know Mickey is a tough on ethos and discipline and I understand where he is coming from because you need to be dedicated to play Test cricket.
‘But Mickey seems to be a little pedantic. I remember being fined for getting dirt on my shirt while diving to get home to bring up a hundred at Sydney. I thought that was a bit harsh.’
The dressing room incident has become legendary. After stumps, as teammates gathered around Ponting and offered congrats, Arthur pushed through the throng and grabbed the former captain by the shoulders.
‘You got your shirt dirty,’ Arthur growled. ‘You should’ve done the honourable thing and walked.’
It’s clear the Indian tour has been wracked by disharmony. The team has played like they expected to be thrashed. Arthur has coached the same way. It’s the only way he knows, and while it isn’t working for him now, it might not work for him in the future.
‘Touring India is one of the toughest gigs in cricket,’ Arthur said. ‘It’s my job to make the tour as tough as it can possibly be, so the players learn how tough they have to be.
‘There’s no point giving the players time or confidence to adapt to the conditions or learn how to improve just by playing. They need to know how to behave off the field. The only way the team will improve is by sacking the better players.
‘So if I find a player who hasn’t used deodorant, I’m going to come down on him hard, because disciplined players use deodorant and keep their fingernails clean. If you can’t clip your nose hair and eyebrows, you can’t play for Australia.
‘Whether the players learn that through fines, sackings or by getting dropped is up to them, and I’ve talked to the players about this at length. I’ll keep talking to the players about this until I am blue in the face.’
After the players were informed of the decision to ban Watson, Khawaja, Johnson and Pattinson from the third Test, Peter Siddle offered to make Mickey Arthur turn blue in the face.
Arthur declined the opportunity and fined Siddle $5000 when the lion-hearted paceman said he wouldn’t wash his hands before attempting to strangle his coach…