The homework-gate controversy that has engulfed Australian cricket has drawn the ire of the critics, while the others are set about defending the abrupt removal of the players from the team.
Questions are being raised against Mickey Arthur’s integrity as a coach and the puppy Michael Clarke, who is ‘supposedly’ incapable of keeping his players behind the line.
Amidst all this unnecessary brouhaha, the question that needs answering is whether the players deserved such harsh treatment for a silly theological process. The blatant answer would be in the negative, but that is how Australians operate, both on and off the field. They are completely professional and extremely passionate about what they do.
Sample this: the world T20 2009 saw Australia being ousted in the preliminary rounds. Their arsenal was severely depleted with the retirements of Adam Gilchrist and Mathew Hayden and yet they saw fit to drop Andrew Symonds, owing to indiscipline. Australians are extremely proud about their cricketing acumen and their former grandeur.
The Australian think-tank
“We were particularly aware of where we were as a team and how we were going to get back. I asked the players at the end of the game to give me an individual presentation. I wanted three points from each of them technically, mentally as to how we were going to get back over the next couple of games, how we were going to get ourselves back into the series. Unfortunately four players didn’t comply with that. We pride ourselves on attitude. We have given the players a huge amount of latitude to get culture and attitude right,” – Mickey Arthur, coach, Australian cricket team.
Having been at the top of the table for the major part of the last decade, Australia are visibly facing a torrid time swallowing the bitter pill of climbing down the ladder. The team that once boasted of the world-beaters’ tag remains a mirage of its former glory, unable to replicate its success story of the past.
Obviously, Mickey Arthur would be having a tough time in his endeavor to put the Australian team back on the board. The further losses of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey have pegged them back quite heavily and the humiliation in India isn’t lifting any moods back in Australia. As the coach, Arthur bears the responsibility to Cricket Australia and its fans. Therefore it isn’t hard to discern his predicament. A whitewash here would put his career in jeopardy.
The mindset of the players: too harsh a punishment for the homework-gate controversy
“Any time you are suspended from a Test match, unless you have done something unbelievably wrong and obviously everyone knows what those rules are – I think it is very harsh. In the end I have got to live with it. That is the decision they have made and at this point in time I am at a stage where I have to weigh up my future with what I want to do with my cricket in general.” – Shane Watson
On the other hand, let us spare a thought for the situation of the suspended players. Shane Watson isn’t exactly a youngster and to be frank, he understands his place and responsibilities in the team. As a vice-captain, it would have been humiliating for him to be put under the scanner.
For the major part of his stop-start yet brilliant career, Watson was shunted from one side to the other. Injuries, form fluctuations and certain other factors that included the might of the Australian team kept him out of action. It was a struggle and yet he has managed to keep himself afloat. That is a huge achievement considering the facts presented, not to mention his single-handed effort that led Australia into the semi finals of the 2012 T20 World Cup.
The others players (Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Johnson and James Pattinson) involved in this homework-gate controversy are extremely professional as well and with the kind of competition that they are facing in the domestic circuit, it isn’t difficult to attest the fact that they are indeed deserving of their place in their side. Having seen club cricket, I have come to understand that a major part of the cricketers love to operate in their unique manner. Be it their fitness routines, or the type of drills that they undergo every day; it is certainly diverse for each player. To ask them to fill a form would absolutely sound ridiculous in light of their routines, not to mention their egos.
Homework-gate controversy: the bottom line
Though the Australian management saw fit to ban these players, they simply did not have any point to prove. Ultimately, they have been branded as the villain. Instead, they could have offered a modicum of support to the players. They could have had a chat on the issue, rather than make a catfight out of it. Clarke should know how to keep his players in check, but not by such means.
The players on their part should have a better understanding of their responsibilities and go with the flow. A rebel on an alien land would certainly tarnish the image of the board and as players they wouldn’t want to have that kind of dirt on their hands. The homework-gate controversy should be considered as a one-off incident and the team should work together to salvage some pride before they venture home.