We are lucky enough to have Australian cricket coach Mickey Arthur* in the Dr’s virtual surgery this morning to share his thoughts on team selections and recent developments.
Dr NRL: Thanks for your time Mickey after what has been a pretty eventful day in Mohali. Standing players down for the upcoming Test?
Mickey Arthur: Yes Dr, yes it has been. I myself am shocked, shocked!
Dr NRL: You’re shocked?
Mickey Arthur: Of course! Look, we didn’t have a three-day Powerpoint course before the Hyderabad Test for nothing. To profess no knowledge of how to structure a presentation is just not on.
For myself, I can tell you I was cutting and pasting, bolding and making those funny, slanty words…
Dr NRL: Italics?
Mickey Arthur: Yes, hydraulics. I could even make bullets, which served me pretty well yesterday when I threw the MacBook at those clowns.
Dr NRL: Wouldn’t a bit more batting be better than a Microsoft Office course?
Mickey Arthur: What? I don’t abide betting within the team. Not the exotics anyway.
You have to understand that betting requires a lot of thought, analysis and time. We just don’t spend enough time in the dressing rooms to devote to these types of things.
Dr NRL: OK … back to the players then …
Granted, Khawaja and Johnson were more chance of stopping a herd of thundering wildebeest by using The Force than playing this match, but Pattinson and Watson were on my radar. So was Hussey.
Dr NRL: Mike Hussey?
Mickey Arthur? Of course, Mike Hussey. Who do you think? He didn’t get back to me either, which I thought was just plain rude.
Dr NRL: You realise Mike Hussey isn’t playing international cricket any longer, don’t you?
Mickey Arthur: You can say that again. Not on my watch, that’s for sure. Didn’t even get back to me when I told him to pack his bags. Bad attitude that guy.
Clearly me and Pup got it right leaving him out of the ODIs. A highly destabilising influence. A renegade.
Dr NRL: So tell me, what did you want to see in those presentations? Have you run out of ideas?
Mickey Arthur: I gave them absolute clarity about what I wanted. I wanted to know why they lost the Test by an innings for a start. After all, it’s not my fault, and the Poms of all people smashed them. So I asked them to outline how they could improve the team’s performance mentally, physically, technically, tactically, spiritually, even comically. I understand Dirk Walters and Gary Gilmeister were quite the lads many years back. And that’s the type of comraderie I am trying to instil in this team. Phil Hughes aside, we need more comedy.
And no, I am full of ideas. I have the rotation thing going nicely, and the all-rounder focus, that’s mine too. If I had a choice I’d have 11 of them. That’s another one of my lateral thinking-style ideas. I also coined the term ‘Puptides’ for our supplement program.
Dr NRL: Dropping the Vice Captain is a big call?
Mickey Arthur: Absolutely. Shane means a great deal to this side. Not so much for batting and bowling, but his presence.
I remember asking him one day why his box was so damn big, and he replied he needed it to carry a large package.
That’s the kind of guy he is, making remarks that are so profound, yet difficult to interpret like a Shaman, keeping us all on our toes.
He was our middle stump, really, and it’s a shame to now be forced to pull the middle stump out. At least Pup is still there as the head of our tool box.
Dr NRL: How do you think you would have gone if you tried to tell Dennis Lillee or Allan Border they were sacked because they hadn’t given you a presentation? Chappelli might have throttled you.
Mickey Arthur: Well that’s just silly, isn’t it? Powerpoint didn’t exist back then. Next question.
Dr NRL: Ever think of having a few pints of truth serum and a brainstorm? You know, bond like other teams have done for many years?
What does it say about the relationship of the selectors to the rest of the squad, or about team culture?
Mickey Arthur: You’re kidding aren’t you? I have enough trouble getting them together for a match, let alone a piss up. Pup has commitments, Dave Warner is out playing golf … no, it just wouldn’t work.
Culture schmulture. As long as everyone listens to me and Pup there are no issues. And that is how you win games. You don’t have to be Robert Einstein to work that out.
Dr NRL: So none of the felonious four made a presentation? Why not?
Mickey Arthur: They claimed to be out batting or bowling or something. I wasn’t really listening I was so mad. If there is one thing I can’t abide it’s poor discipline.
I need to see the right attitude from a player, by which I mean listening to me and Pup. All I wanted is for them to look at themselves in the mirror.
In Shane and Mitchell’s case, this would be a normal thing anyway, so I just don’t get it.
Dr NRL: Now you’re 2-0 down in a four-Test series, do you think going in with just five specialist batsmen, some of whom average only 30-odd, and one spinner was the right move initially in a place like India where even the new ball turns?
Mickey Arthur: Well, hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it? It is a fertile pasture for the armchair critics like yourself to graze and criticise us. How were we to know that?
Dr NRL: Well everyone kno-
Mickey Arthur: Look, everything was going just fine with our rotation policy. We had used 457 players within such a short space of time. Tell me. Is that not success?
How many other teams can boast numbers like that? This is a number game boyky. And the next generation of rotation was just about to begin.
Dr NRL: Oh really? Do tell more.
Mickey Arthur: Well, it is set to build on the successful formula we had used for Phil Hughes whereby we would bring in someone else, didn’t matter who, to take the brunt of good bowling attacks, then let Phil have a crack at the Sri Lankans.
The next generation of rotation is going to be a masterstroke by applying the policy to the whole team.
Clearly we erred in putting Phil in the team against the Indians. They’re too good as well. But it gave me a tremendous idea. I’m now proposing that we rotate the Ashes out of the mid-year calendar and go to Zimbabwe or the West Indies instead.
Dr NRL: Sounds like a stroke of genius, Mickey …Going back, why didn’t Lyon play the second Test?
Mickey Arthur: You are really starting to get my goat with all your silly questions. Lions don’t even play cricket. They don’t have any opposable thumbs for a start, and I don’t even know where to begin with ball tampering issues …
Dr NRL: I’m talking about your spinner, Nathan Lyon.
Mickey Arthur: Oh right, you weren’t very clear there. Oh, awesome talent that boy, hits good areas.
Dr NRL: Then why drop him?
Mickey Arthur: He wasn’t hitting the right areas.
Dr NRL: But you just said …
Mickey Arthur: Stop trying to put words in my mouth. He wasn’t getting wickets, so he had to go. It’s as simple as that. We set high standards in this team, and if you’re not doing your job then you are going to struggle to hold your place.
Dr NRL: Do you think his position would have been safer had the wicket keeper taken all the catches offered and made a few stumpings?
Mickey Arthur: Look at the scorecard. I shouldn’t have to spell this out all the time.
Dr NRL: Well who is in charge of the victory song if Nathan isn’t playing?
Mickey Arthur: It’s not an immediate cause for concern. I’m sure if we win a game there might be an awkward moment in the dressing room and a few enquiring stares before they work it out.
But I’m confident they can do that. I’m not saying their organisational skills are the best in the world, but there are none better. They’re second to none, actually.
In any case, I’ve pinged these other muppets who don’t know a Powerpoint from an electricity socket, so clearly we’ll need Nathan to play for us now.
I might even have to strap on the pads. That’s how we do it here. We’re a team.
But let’s take the positives out of this ok? There is going to be far less disappointment when announcing the third Test team now that we only have 13 players.
Oh crap! This is what I’m talking about! Moises has just sent me … I mean, how many times do I have to say no magenta? Oh noooo, not Times New Roman too … you’re going to have to excuse me, this isn’t going to be pretty …
* may not be the real Mickey Arthur …