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Australian cricket: A schoolboy act?

If you are a schoolboy playing cricket, your teacher asks you to do something rather mundane for him. You fail to do so and get dropped. Sounds a bit harsh.

Now, replace schoolboy with Australian Test cricketer, and teacher for coach Micky Arthur. Sounds rather bloody ridiculous. Doesn’t it?

Happier times: Micky Arthur and Shane Watson

Happier times: Micky Arthur and Shane Watson

Australia decided to exclude four players, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja from the 3rd Test against India for failing to submit three points on which Australia could improve their game.

Firstly, isn’t it Arthur’s job to figure out what is wrong with the side? Secondly, to drop four players for such a minor incident seems stupidly harsh.

Arthur claimed he was drawing a line in the sand; so does that mean that if a player in the future breaks a similarly minor rule, they too will be dropped? Break a curfew by five minutes? Dropped. Late for the team bus? Oh you bet you’ll be dropped.

It might be slightly more understandable if the players in question had been involved with disciplinary problems in the past but that certainly is not the case. Shane Watson is the vice-captain and James Pattinson has been arguably Australia’s most impressive bowler thus far. Why Arthur would feel he could possibly cope without those two vitally important players, I have no idea.

To make matters worse for Australia, Watson has now come out and said he is “considering his options”. The all-rounder was going to fly home before the 4th Test anyway due to the impending birth of his first child but will now fly home immediately. The thought of losing Watson, one of Australia’s most influential players in recent years, does not bear thinking about for Arthur, Clarke and co. He is vital in maintaining the balance of Australia’s side with his underrated medium pace.

I wonder what Michael Clarke thinks about the whole situation. I can’t imagine a captain desperate on salvaging a draw from a series would be too keen on losing two important bowlers and his number four batsman and fifth bowler.

Clarke will now have to suffer through the third Test with limited bowling options. An absolute nightmare against a batting unit as strong as India’s, and in alien conditions, no less.

As an Englishman, I find the whole situation rather amusing, especially with back to back Ashes series coming up this year. This facade hardly smacks of a side that is well prepared to take on an impressive England, never mind the fact that they are playing rather poorly. For Australia, there are no winners in this situation.

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