Poms gloat as Australian cricket team becomes a 'global laughing stock'
- Watson may quit Test cricket over axe
- Players have only themselves to blame
- Clarke says axings due to slide in attitude
- Arthur's decision makes sense
- Memes mine Micky Arthur's decision for mirth
- Poll: was punishment too harsh?
The English are slapping their thighs in gleeful uproar at the decision by Australia's cricket hierarchy to sack four of its struggling Test cricketers for not completing written "homework" on how to improve their faltering team.
The idea of a three-point presentation to solve Australia's woes is cricket's equivalent of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic
Former Australian cricketers joined their one-time foes in questioning the wisdom of Australia's decision to drop Shane Watson, premier quick James Pattinson, emerging batsman Usman Khawaja and left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson for failing to complete a presentation requested by coach Mickey Arthur.
Under fire ... coach Mickey Arthur. Photo: Getty Images
England Ashes hero Andrew Flintoff summed up the mood in world cricket, tweeting: "Amazing 4 Aussie players banned for not doing homework , I thought letting them play in the next test would be punishment enough #3-0india."
Commentator Jonathan Agnew added: "Not really up on modern text speak, but gather that ROFL might be appropriate..."
The English, already bemused by Australia's pitiful performances in India, where its own team just won a four-Test series 2-1, did not hold back.
Andrew Flintoff ... delighting in Australia's misfortune. Photo: Getty Images
Former Test swing bowler Matthew Hoggard told the BBC he was "baffled" by the "unbelievable" sackings.
"They have not been out until four in the morning. They have not been jumping off ferries or putting hands through doors.
"I know Shane Watson and he is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Getting him to write things out and put them in front of the coach is not going to be his strong point."
Bemused ... Matthew Hoggard. Photo: Getty Images
The normally sober Guardian newspaper did not hold back. The first sentence of its report on the controversy? "Four months from the Ashes and Australian cricket has become a global laughing stock…"
After Australia's ignominious second Test defeat, the Guardian's Vic Marks was already asking if the defence of the Ashes was a "formality", saying: "Australia are in a mess."
"As Merv Hughes, who was in the stands in Hyderabad as a tour leader, might be observing at this very moment: 'The Australians currently appear to be stuck between Scylla and Charybdis in the manner of Homer's Odysseus.' Or, if in a hurry, he might just say: 'We're buggered."'
Hitting out ... Darren Lehmann was surprised at the decision.
The headline from the tabloid stirrers at the Daily Mail was harsh, but fair: "The once-feared boys in Baggy Green are a laughing stock after farce in India".
Lawrence Booth wrote that the English had briefly stopped laughing at the Australians when their own team was bowled out cheaply in the first Test against New Zealand. But as soon as "normal service resumed" and the Poms fought back in Dunedin, the mirth at Australia's expense also returned: "... the idea of a three-point presentation to solve Australia's woes is cricket's equivalent of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic."
Booth continued: "Australia just ain't that good any more. Coaches are supposed to manage crises, not exacerbate them."
Former quick Damien Fleming joked about the saituation. Photo: Getty Images
At least some Australians were laughing along.
Age senior writer Greg Baum tweeted: "P Hughes lucky. Every time he went to write something, he cut it."
Former Test swing bowler Damien Fleming added: "On a positive note Ed Cowan's presentation has just been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize."
Ridiculous ... Shane Warne had his say on Twitter.
And journeyman all-rounder Theo Doropoulos noted: "John Inverarity was my high school headmaster. Not once did he threaten to drop me for not doing homework during my 5 years at Hale. #Legend."
"This feels like a seminal moment in Aus manliness," The National's Osman Samiuddin said on Twitter, looking for feedback from the paragons of hirsute Australian cricket macho, Ian Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh.
Chappell's mild response may have disappointed Samiuddin.
The alternative? 'Old-school' Queensland and Brisbane Heat coach Darren Lehmann favours a less academic approach to coaching. Photo: Getty images
"It is surprising and if it's team spirit they are trying to build, I'm not sure this is the right way to go about it," Chappell told Cricinfo.
More recent Aussie cricket heroes did not hold back.
"I don't see the logic in this. It's way over the top," former Australian captain Allan Border told Fox Sports. "It seems too strong a measure for coach and captain to take."
Mark Waugh was even more blunt: "I've never heard of anything so stupid in all my life. It's not under-6's – this is Test cricket."
Queensland coach Darren "Boof" Lehmann, who favours a less academic approach to preparing players, tweeted: "This is so wrong. Adults we are, not schoolboys. Please let's act properly and make good decisions in India. Need these boys playing. What are we doing? Cricket?"
Former middle order Test batsman Damien Martyn agreed that the players should be punished, but told Channel Nine on Tuesday morning that "missing a Test match is just too extreme".
He suggested that they should have been heavily fined instead, and Arthur's punishment was hurting the rest of the team.
Former Test spinning great Shane Warne said that the captain should run the team. He tweeted: "Ridiculous what's happening."
But captain Michael Clarke, a close friend of Warne, completely endorsed the shock decision.
"It's a tough decision but at the end of the day if people are not hitting those standards there are going to be consequences."
He said that players should have been focused on doing whatever was necessary ahead of a series-deciding Test match.
"If you can't do as you're asked by the head coach … it's unacceptable."
Coach Mickey Arthur appears determined to make the decision a turning point for the Test team, thrashed twice in India in the past month.
"It's buy-in time … if you don't we're not going to achieve our goals as a team."
Arthur has his supporters.
Brydon Coverdale of Cricinfo also supported the sackings.
"Mark Waugh says this is not schoolboy stuff. It's not Under-6's, he says. That's right, you're a grown man with your own brain and you get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, at least, to play this game. You're a professional. So why haven't you acted like one?"
On SEN radio, AFL figures David Parkin and Kevin Bartlett, both former coaches, agreed that the measure was necessary.
Parkin said he would have done "exactly the same thing" as Arthurs.
Bartlett said the suspended quartet had "thumbed their noses" at a "not unreasonable request".
"I applaud the decision. Finally a light might have been switched on..."
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