I spent time in the Australian Defence Force and one factor was continually drilled into each member: everyone should be prepared to take over command if required to.
Secondly, after each exercise, conduct an After Action Review (AAR).
These two essential elements were failed by James Pattison, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja and Australian vice-captain Shane Watson.
So I strongly disagree with The Roar expert Joe Karsay’s opinion that the Test teams “culture was dealt a significant blow this week by Michael Clarke and Mickey Arthur”.
Doesn’t the action the captain and coach took strengthen the culture? Or a better question, what is the current teams culture? According to coach Arthur, the team has grown comfortable with a “back-chat” and “giving attitude” culture.
Now I’ll be honest, cricket is far from my favourite sport however this is an issue of leadership and attitude, and less of the bat and ball
What’s disappointing was Watson’s reaction within the awaiting salivating media.
“I think it’s extremely harsh to be able to be suspended from a Test match for your country, you know, in any circumstance, whether we’re two nil down or whether we’re going very well…I’ve got different opinions to the leadership group. I obviously expressed my extreme disappointment with the punishment.”
This from the man who would lead the national side if Clarke was to go down injured.
The Australian cricket team needed a dramatic shake up and that is exactly what happened. Hall of Fame basketball player Bill Russell was advised by former coach Red Auerbach to throw an elbow in a nationally televised game to send a message to his adversaries who continually fouled the big man rather than being dominated offensively.
In football (pick any code), it would be the coach storming into the rooms at half-time, flipping a table and going on a tirade – only once however. It’s a statement.
This was Arthur’s message that things need and must change. There is more to winning than simply talent.
If Watson was let off the hook here and kept in the team for the remaining matches, what message would that send to the entire team, particularly the younger players? Arthur has an inkling suspicion.
“Being late for a meeting, high skin folds, wearing the wrong attire, back chat or giving attitude are just some examples of these behavioural issues that have been addressed discretely but continue to happen. If we’re deadly serious about getting back to number one in the world, all players need to raise the bar and lift their game.”
“If not, we must be content at being number three or four or five in world cricket because we won’t get any better. The players won’t learn and we’ll continue a vicious cycle.”
Professionalism is key. If any player is not up to or open to improving, upholding the strive for excellence, then they shouldn’t be in and don’t deserve a position within the the national side.
I tip my hat to Mickey and Pup for standing up when they knew that they would cop it from all sides.