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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Cricket Australia and homework-gate

So, 4 players have been dropped from the Australia test squad for the in-play 3rd test in India. The reason? They failed to hand in a piece of (for wont of a better word) homework to Mickey Arthur detailing 3 ways in which their individual and team performance from the second test could be improved. The players in question are Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, James Pattinson and Shane Watson. Now before I even get into the positives and negatives of this, the one thing that stood out for me was that 2 of these players, Khawaja and Johnson, didn't even PLAY the second test match. What do they expect to be written? I half imagine Khawaja to have written "individual: 1) get picked. 2) carry drinks better. 3) find compromising pictures of Mickey Arthur. Team: 1) pick me. 2) don't pick Phil Hughes. 3) clone Michael Clarke." It just doesn't make sense to me.
For me, there has to be some other agenda, I don't think I've seen anything like this happen in my 10 years of following cricket (and copious amounts reading up on past games), and I seriously cannot imagine the Australia of yesteryear doing this. Imagine asking Dennis Lillee or Allan Border to do this. Or even Ricky Ponting or Matthew Hayden! Not likely. What I imagine them doing to prepare for the next game is exactly what others would be doing: practising! It must be difficult taking your selectors and coach seriously when they ask for what essentially amounts to homework, especially when they don't even pick the strongest side at their disposal in the first place (Steve o'Keefe anyone?). I seems that Arthur is trying to stamp his authority on his side, yet all it seems to have done is made them the laughing stock of the cricketing world.
However, there have been a couple of positives to come out of the situation. In this third test, runs have been scored by 1 man who would have no doubt been dropped if all were available, and another who probably didn't expect to play at all, in Phil Hughes and Steve Smith. In addition, if Pattinson were available, one of Starc and Siddle would have in all probability sat out, and between them they have taken 7 wickets in the first innings, bringing Australia right back into the game. Maybe homework-gate will turn out to be a master stroke by Mickey Arthur. Only time will tell.


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