More Mickey mouse games in the world of Australian cricket as Arthur seeks hefty compensation from Cricket Australia.
Reports have emerged from the seven network that Australia's former coach Mickey Arthur is suing Cricket Australia for £243,000 for wrongful termination. The documents filed, also shed more light on the disharmony in the Australian camp, something many observers has suspected for a while.
The nature of Mickey Arthur's departure and the events that led to it meant that the South African coach was bound to come back with a body blow of his own at some stage. However no one expected it to be in such dramatic fashion with allegation of discrimination based on his nationality and other revelatory facts about divisions in the Australian camp.
The documents reveal a rift between Michael Clarke and Shane Watson. Arthur is quoted as saying Clarke thought of Shane Watson and his influence on the squad as a "cancer". It also cites Shane Watson as the whistle blower on the Warner-Root incident. Without access to the documents it's difficult to know what to make of the situation. But whether it affects the Australians ahead of the 2nd test at Lords on Thursday, is the most pressing question.
Is Australian cricket in turmoil?
At Trent Bridge, Australia surprisingly bowled out England in the first innings for 215. England won the match in a contest that was a lot closer than many predicted. The sacking of Mickey Arthur a few weeks before the Ashes and the scrutiny it brought towards Australian cricket, did not affect them. In fact, far from hindering them, it reinvigorated their efforts. Regardless of the merits of Mickey Arthur's claims the nature and timing of his actions could be seen as distracting to Australian preparations for the second Test. Much like last week however, such distractions are more likely to bring the players closer together. The rift between Kevin Pietersen and a few team mates last year was resolved without incident and was in fact followed by a historic test series victory in India.
Personal differences are a lot easier to resolve when the Ashes are at stake. There appeared to be very little evidence of disharmony amongst the Australians in the first test, if body language is anything to go by. Whilst it's easier to mask feelings in press conferences, I doubt the acting abilities of Watson and Clarke are good enough to keep hidden on the field for an entire Test match.
It's thus difficult to accept that the latest revelations will significantly affect Australia's preparations going into the Lords Test match. Instead, I suspect the discovery of Ashton Agar and his heroic innings of 98 batting at number 11 is one of the many positives Australia will be looking to take into the next Test match. Should the pitch at Lords be even remotely better than what former Mark Butcher called "a Dog" at Trent Bridge, then there could be a very even contest on offer. The sheer brilliance of James Anderson in particular saved England in the first test, however the Australian pace attack arguably looked better as a unit. Stuart Broad and Steven Finn managed only 5 wickets between them in the match with both returning very expensive figures in the first innings. Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson on the other hand took 10 and looked more threatening throughout the match.
Usman Khawaja is favourite to replace Eddie Cowan who was the worst culprit in the Australian top order in succumbing to pressure. His dismissal to part time spin of Root in the second innings was a nail in the coffin moment for him. If the top five do remotely better than they did in the first test, the strong bottom order could insure that the second Test is an even closer contest. Only time will tell if another incident sandwiched between the second and third Test, ignites yet another "Australian turmoil" outcry. Not from me.
What now for Mickey Arthur?
A five year successful stint with the South African side could well be Mickey Arthur's only positive note on his CV as he begins job hunting for another International coaching vacancy. His reign as Australian coach appears to have been riddled with numerous faux pas both in the public eye and bhind closed doors. Something which I'm sure he's aware of. Regardless of how he was treated by Cricket Australia, building a balanced relationship with the players and bringing them together is something he didn't quite manage very well in his tenure down under.
Every coach has to deal with difficult characters, that's a fact. How he/she deals with those characters however separates a good coach from the bad. Andy Flower's handling of the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Graemme Swann and Stuart Broad over his tenure has been exemplary. His treatment of them, all with different personalities, accordingly is something Arthur could do well to learn from. Flower's air of authority stems from his self assured, calm and measured demeanor. The players trust his judgements because he never makes them without extended thought and consideration for all concerned. It is unlikely, were Flower the coach of Australia the disciplinary situation would've escalated to such a point. The poor handling of that whole affair could well mean that we don't see the South African coach in another high profile job for a while. Perhaps a stint in Zimbabwe or Bangladesh could be in order, somewhere his "rule with the iron fist" style is more suited. He's got to go over the divorce proceedings with Cricket Australia first. Australian cricket therefore may not be in total turmoil, but cricket Australia's decision not to sign a pre-nuptial agreement with a certain South African groom, could prove very costly.