Australia’s performance since the last year has been ordinary. In 2013 it has been calamitous. Losing the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 0-4 to India in India was followed by Australia not winning a game in the just concluded Champions Trophy.
Heads had to roll. But was it wise to sack the coach just 16 days before the all important first Ashes Test? Players have not performed and someone had to be blamed. But is coach Mickey Arthur the only guilty party?
When he tried to discipline his players in India for their “who cares” attitude by giving them self analysis tests to improve their attitude, he was ridiculed for being a headmaster who treated Test cricketers like lazy students.
Now he is blamed for not acting like a headmaster and allowing players including David Warner to be at a pub in early hours of the morning.
For him, to be a headmaster was a sin. And not being one: a greater sin. It is the duty of the team manager and not a coach to supervise players’ nightly forays.
Changing a coach mid-tour will do more harm than good. He could have been diplomatically removed before the tour to England started rather than a fortnight before the first Ashes Test.
England’s captain Alastair Cook will be delighted at this development while Ian Botham, wherever he resides, is possibly dancing with joy.
This instant sacking reminds one of former Australian Test captain Kim Hughes’ tearful farewell as Australia’s skipper midway through the series against Clive Lloyd’s all-conquering West Indians in 1984-85.
It was after Australia’s eight wicket defeat by the Windies in the Brisbane Test in November 1984. But before we condemn Hughes, just look at the visitors’ team in batting order:
Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Richie Richardson, Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd, Larry Gomes, Jeff Dujon, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Courtney Walsh.
That team would have given any team a hiding. The only XI which could have stood up to them would be Don Bradman’s 1948 Invincibles.
Going back to 1984-85, Australia under Allan Border lost the next Test in Adelaide by 191 runs.
So changing a leader (captain or coach) mid-stream is not a magic cure.The Indian team which whitewashed Australia under Michael Clarke a few months ago was nowhere near Lloyd’s killer combination, but changes have to be made before a tour commences and not midway.
The selectors have also to take some blame as indeed the players, who without Michael Clarke, performed like headless chooks in the Champions Trophy.
Was selecting George Bailey as captain of the Australian ODI team in absence of Clarke wise? Brad Haddin is an experienced campaigner and a canny leader. He is in England as vice-captain to Clarke.
Why was he ignored and Bailey thrust as captain. Haddin would have provided stability rather than a new cap like Bailey.
Anyway, good luck to Darren Lehmann.
Now the ball is in your court, Roarers.