Clarke says axings due to slide in attitude
- Watson may quit Test cricket over axe
- Players have only themselves to blame
- Poll: was punishment too harsh?
Australian Test captain Michael Clarke insists the controversial standing down of four players, including his deputy Shane Watson, for Thursday's third Test was not simply the result of an isolated incident.
In my opinion, for the four players to not do it, not only does it let the team down, it also shows a lack of respect for the head coach and in the Australian cricket team that is unacceptable.
Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja were on Monday made unavailable for the match for a breach of team discipline, after failing to respond to requests to provide head coach Mickey Arthur with an explanation of what they could do to help resurrect Australia's hitherto dismal tour of India.
Michael Clarke says four players' failure to complete task required of them showed a lack of respect for the team. Photo: Getty Images
All players were asked to complete the task, and were given five days. The sacked quartet failed to comply, Arthur said. Watson has already flown home to be by the side of his pregnant wife, Lee, and revealed he was considering his future.
Clarke said the four had been stood down directly as a result of not completing the required presentations, but that the action had been the culmination of a general slide in attitude.
"It's not just about one incident," Clarke said. "There have been a number of issues on this tour where I don't think we have been hitting our standards, we have not been doing what is required for this Australian cricket team to have the success we want it to have.
Heading home: Shane Watson. Photo: Chris Barrett
"It's no coincidence we have lost the first two Test matches quite convincingly so we have to turn that around, we have to lift our standards. We can't accept mediocrity here. This is the Australian cricket team. Maybe I am biased (but) there is a big difference between this team and other cricket teams.
"If you play for Australia there is a lot that comes with that and standards, discipline, culture that is all a big part of what we are talking about here."
Clarke was unapologetic about the decision to stand down the quartet, saying their failure to complete the task required of them showed a lack of respect for the team. He admitted it had been "a tough day" and a "tough decision" but added: "If people are not hitting those standards there are going to be consequences."
"Our head coach gave us two days off after the second Test," he said. "It was about freshening yourself up get your rehab (done,) your recovery, do what you have to do to get everything right for the next two Test matches because the next two Test matches are as big as you might have in your career and you have an opportunity to turn this series around.
"We were asked to do one thing from the head coach and I am not going to go deep into it but it was giving information back to the head coach about not only improving your game, what you've learnt from the first two Test matches, but also how can you help this team turn things around and have success.
"In my opinion, for the four players to not do it, not only does it let the team down, it also shows a lack of respect for the head coach and in the Australian cricket team that is unacceptable.
‘‘We can’t accept mediocrity here.
‘‘This is the Australian cricket team.’’
Watson has also been juggling family commitments and headed back to Sydney on Monday night for the birth of his first child. There’s confusion over whether he’ll return for the fourth Test in Delhi on March 22.
The 31-year-old says he’s shattered by his suspension and feels harshly treated.
‘‘I am going to spend the next few weeks with my family and weigh up my options as to exactly which direction I want to go,’’
Watson said.‘‘I am at a stage where I have to weigh up my future with what I want to do with my cricket in general.’’
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