Four Australian players have been dropped for the next Test versus India. Peter Miller gives us his view on it.
Australian cricket is about to reveal that the last 12 months were in fact a dream sequence, JR Ewing hasn’t really been shot, they haven’t rotated out key players for a deciding Test match and they will tell us that haven’t dropped James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson from the 3rd Test for failing to provide three ways in which they can improve.
Mickey Arthur has told the press that the dropping of these four players this was a “line in the sand” moment. For there to be a need for such a moment there is clearly an issue with respect for the management’s authority. For 25% of the touring party to ignore a task that was clearly given a huge amount of emphasis by the coach shows that all is not well.
It has now been revealed by The Australian that Shane Watson has checked out of the team hotel and flown home. His reason is said to be that he is going to see his wife who is due to have a baby at the end of this month. There has been no mention of him flying home during this tour to welcome his new arrival so we can only assume that this was an unplanned move. To have the team’s vice captain abandon the tour again shows that there are tensions in the camp.
We spoke with former Australian Test player Stuart MacGill this week and he expressed concerns about how “informed player management” was communicated to the players. If it is the case that the players are unclear on how this policy of rotation is implemented it is perhaps understandable that there is some friction between the management and the players.
Ultimately the success or failure of a team management policy is judged on results. Neither players or fans will be happy with constant changes to personnel if the results are not there to back it up. On this tour the bowling options that the selectors took along to India have raised many eyebrows. Steve O’Keefe, the most successful spin bowler in Shield cricket, didn’t make the squad. Whereas Xavier Doherty and Steve Smith who have barely bowled in first class cricket this past summer are in India.
Even once they had arrived in India the selection issues were obvious to see. Nathan Lyon, who is far and away the best spin bowler in the touring party was dropped for the 2nd Test despite getting the ball to turn. Not least when he bowled Sachin Tendulkar with the perfect off spinners delivery.
While it is understandable for the coach to want the input of players on how the team can improve, perhaps the selectors and coaches also need to be asked for some homework. It seems the four players involved in “Homework-gate” have been caught in the middle of a desperate attempt to wrest back some authority by the management. It will be interesting to see what the impact of their censure will have on Australia’s performance in the 3rd Test.