Sacked coach Mickey Arthur has returned fire at Australian vice-captain Brad Haddin, describing the veteran's scathing critique of his regime as a cheap shot and his presence in the Test team as "unsustainable".
The bickering within Australian cricket continues to be a strange sideshow to the main event, which starts at the Gabba on Thursday.
Brad Haddin (R) speaks to coach Micky Arthur while batting during an Australian nets session at Adelaide Oval in January 2012. Photo: Getty Images
Arthur took to the airwaves in Perth to respond to Haddin's claim that the former coach's insecurities led to an uncomfortable culture in which players were "jumping at shadows".
Haddin was recalled as vice-captain before the last Ashes, before Arthur was sacked, to address an alarming lack of leadership and resilience after the team's spectacular unravelling in India.
"Brad for a long period of the time wasn't part of the team. So for Brad to say those things is a little bit naive. Brad wasn't aware of the direction I was taking the team," Arthur said on Fairfax Radio in Perth.
"Brad was one of the senior players who lost his place, was left out for a young guy like Matthew Wade to come in for us to build a brand that was going to be sustainable over a period of time, because at (age) 35 the brand wasn't going to be sustainable with Brad Haddin keeping wicket."
Haddin said Australia under Darren Lehmann has a renewed belief and confidence, and is unrecognisable from the tense unit he rejoined as a replacement for the injured Wade after four players were suspended in Mohali earlier this year.
Cricket Australia waited until three weeks before the next series, the Ashes in England, to terminate Arthur's contract, blindsiding captain Michael Clarke.
Players have since been unanimous in their endorsement of Lehmann's more relaxed style, and the turmoil of the past eight months has been replaced by optimism despite the three-nil defeat in England.
Arthur was adamant most players were secure in their roles during his tenure and defended his management of the team.
"A couple of them that were jumping at shadows were the guys who weren't doing what was expected, those were the guys trying to take short cuts," said Arthur, who was appointed in the aftermath of the heavy 2010-11 Ashes loss and the subsequent Argus report.
"You don't come in and mess with a culture that has been successful... (but) the cycle had turned, we had lost a lot of experienced players, which meant we needed to create our own brand, our own culture, and put in place a sustainable value system that any player coming up from state level could walk straight in and feel comfortable and know what is expected of them.
"I did that job to the best of my ability, I can look back on my time there and say I gave it an almighty crack. If that crack wasn't good enough, I can live with that, but I did try to get Australian cricket back to where it deserved to be."
Haddin's break from international cricket began when he left the 2012 tour of the West Indies to be with his seriously ill daughter. He was overlooked for Wade at the start of the following summer. Since his return he has broken Rod Marsh's record for most dismissals in a series, in England, and he almost batted Australia to victory at Trent Bridge. The 36-year-old will play his 50th Test against England in Brisbane.
"I gave Brad a huge amount of support, we gave him time, we told him exactly where he stood," Arthur said.
"I'm bewildered and disappointed by his comments."