Will a debut dose of Mick do the home series trick?
First-up – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Easter, er, I mean Twenty12. On the eve of the Sydney Test, I thought it would be worth considering a momentary scan of the statistical side of the coaching debut of Mickey Arthur.
Yes, the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne was a cracking contest – and Aussie fans can say yay, we won, too! But how has Arthur, Australia’s first-ever foreign-born coach, stacked up so far this summer against his recent predecessors? And how might he stack up by the end of the season?
Time for some archival trawling… While I was unable to locate the overall Test win-loss ledgers on the topic, I was interested to know the home series debut records for each of Australia’s mentors immediately after taking charge of the team. Corrections to “If I’m Wrong, Then…” on the back of a postcard please, to the usual address.
So far, just three Tests into his tenure at the helm, Arthur is at least proving to be as good a coach as Tim Nielsen, who was presented with a near-identical start to his coaching stint in 2007, also against India after two Tests against what marketing men would probably call a lesser side. And on a home debut series basis alone, Nielsen’s own record is second-only to that of John Buchanan’s 100 per cent demolition job against Pakistan and (you guessed it) India in 1999-2000.
Things were looking a lot less rosy 25 years ago. Bob Simpson managed a 20 per cent win-loss ratio in the 1986-87 Ashes series against England – a 2-1 defeat – yet he stayed in the job for a decade and took that side into the cricketing stratosphere by the twilight of his career in charge. Can Arthur do the same?
Geoff Marsh arrived in time for the 1996-97 Frank Worrell Trophy series against the West Indies, faring better. Australia won that series 3-2, and those victories were crushing ones at that for a 60 per cent record to open his coaching account.
But there has been none better than self-styled number-cruncher Buchanan. Across six Tests in his debut home season, he masterminded five superb results for Australia, with the only relative blip still managing a four-wicket win against Pakistan in the Second Test in Hobart. That must have been the week where his laptop computer couldn’t cope with the cooler Tasmanian weather and dew formed on the outside of the disk drive…
Now onto Nielsen and Arthur. Statistics of course only tell half the story. The other half to “Where’s The Rest Of It, You Idiot?” on the back of a…well, you get the idea. Nielsen and Arthur currently share a win percentage of 66.67 per cent. Perhaps surprising in terms of both men, as Arthur’s own start with South Africa was hardly auspicious, either.
Installed as coach in 2005, Arthur’s Proteas began with two consecutive series defeats – both against Australia. They lost 2-0 in a three-Test series away before a 3-0 result in the return leg two months later. That would make it a zero-level record.
With a win and a loss against New Zealand to go with the Boxing Day heroics, Arthur’s on two-out-of-three at the moment, and that, as Mr Meatloaf would put it, ain’t bad.
No Australian coach since Simpson has lost his opening home season game or series. Arthur kept both parts of that ledger intact in 2011-12. All that remains is for the team to win at least two of the final three matches and remain in the Nielsen-led bracket.
Arthur has also appeared to have his media presentation down pat, telling reporters on New Year’s Eve that the present pace bowling pool “has the potential to become the best in the world”.
Let’s hope the rest of the summer’s results can match that lofty statement. I’d like to think so. However, I must say I am picking a likely win for India this week, along with Sachin Tendulkar to pile on the runs, and finally rid us of the endless speculation about that “Ton Of Tons” thingy. Because, even as an Aussie fan, seeing the Little Master make it 100 out of 639 (that’s 15.64 per cent of international Test and One-Day matches) in the Sydney Cricket Ground’s 100th Test ain’t bad.
Home debut series for recent Australian coaches (source: www.cricinfo.com)
Bob Simpson (coach 1986-96)
1986-87 Ashes series against England (lost 2-1)
First Test – Brisbane, Nov 14-19: ENG by 7 wkts
Second Test – Perth, Nov 28-Dec 3: DRAW
Third Test – Adelaide, Dec 12-16: DRAW
Fourth Test – Melbourne, Dec 26-28: ENG by inns and 14 runs
Fifth Test – Sydney, Jan 10-15: AUS by 55 runs
Geoff Marsh (1996-99)
1996-97 Frank Worrell Trophy series against West Indies (won 3-2)
First Test – Brisbane, Nov 22-26: AUS by 123 runs
Second Test – Sydney, Nov 29-Dec 3: AUS by 124 runs
Third Test – Melbourne, Dec 26-28: WIN by 6 wkts
Fourth Test – Adelaide, Jan 25-28: AUS by inns and 183 runs
Fifth Test – Perth, Feb 1-3: WIN by 10 wkts
John Buchanan (1999-2007)
1999-2000 v Pakistan (won 3-0)
First Test – Brisbane, Nov 5-9: AUS by 10 wkts
Second Test – Hobart, Nov 18-22: AUS by 4wkts
Third Test – Perth, Nov 26-30: AUS by inns and 20 runs
1999-2000 v India (won 3-0)
First Test – Adelaide, Dec 10-14: AUS by 285 runs
Second Test – Melbourne: Dec 26-30: AUS by 180 runs
Third Test – Sydney, Jan 2-6: AUS by inns and 141 runs
Tim Nielsen (2007-11)
2007-08 Warne-Muralitharan Trophy against Sri Lanka (won 2-0)
First Test – Brisbane, Nov 8-12: AUS by inns and 40 runs
Second Test – Hobart, Nov 16-20: AUS by 96 runs
2007-08 Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India (won 2-1)
First Test – Melbourne, Dec 26-29: AUS by 337 runs
Second Test – Sydney, Jan 2-6: AUS by 122 runs
Third Test – Perth, Jan 16-19: IND by 72 runs
Fourth Test – Adelaide, Jan 24-28: DRAW
Mickey Arthur (Australia 2011- )
2011-12 Trans-Tasman Trophy against New Zealand
First Test – Brisbane, Dec 1-4: AUS by 9 wkts
Second Test – Hobart, Dec 9-12: NZL by 7 runs
2011-12 Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India
First Test – Melbourne, Dec 26-29: AUS by 122 runs