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Homework-gate: What is the matter with the Aussies?

In team sports its not uncommon to hear of players getting dropped on disciplinary grounds. Generally the charges are obvious (drinking, brawling, drugs), sometimes not-so-obvious (intra-team issues, personal rifts) but never has a reason such seemin...

England v Australia - npower 3rd Ashes Test: Day Four

In team sports, it’s not uncommon to hear of players getting dropped on disciplinary grounds. Generally, the charges are obvious (drinking, brawling, drugs), sometimes not-so-obvious (intra-team issues, personal rifts) but never has a reason seemingly as frivolous as ‘homework-gate’ been given.

It came as a shock when it was announced that Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khwaja would not be taking part in the 3rd Test against India on disciplinary grounds, and the intensity increased when the “disciplinary grounds” on which they had been dropped were made public. In summary, players had been asked to give three points on how to improve the team (quite understandable given that they were coming from back-to-back losses). And these 4 gentlemen had failed to “present” their views in the time given.

My first reaction was laughter. The intensity of the punishment and the “crime” had seemingly no correlation. Barred from playing for not submitting homework on time sounds extremely schoolboy-ish and not something expected from a professional, international sports team. Though if you want to have an extreme view, the concerned players’ approach wasn’t professional either. Failing to complete the assigned task on time would call for censure in any corporate environment. Professional sport hardly needs to be any exception to this. Yet, making all this public certainly wasn’t the best way to go.

Which makes one think whether there is more to it than meets the eye. The case looks complicated, coming after the recent sudden retirement of Mike Hussey. Shane Watson leaving the country, James Pattinson publicly accepting his mistake. There is too much dirty linen being washed in public. Cricket Australia needs to control the “innovative thinkers” who are becoming their coaches. Michael Clarke and Mickey Arthur certainly have a lot to answer for.

I do not even pretend to know what are the goings-on in the Aussie dressing room, but the events over the past couple of days have certainly made the Australian team the butt of many jokes. Former Baggy Greens are shocked, and the arch-enemy English are rolling around laughing on the cricket pitch (which would make it a great time for the Kiwis to surprise them). But we Indians should stay focused, lest we lose laughing in the Mohali Test starting tomorrow.

To sum up – there is something rotten in the state of Australian cricket.

Published with permission from Nishant Kumar.

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