The Two Most Important Jobs in Australia

I’ve heard it said that the most important job in Australia is Prime Minister (obviously) and followed by the captain of the national cricket team (Test team, of course).  It is ironic then that the organisations that those two leaders represent are in equally shambolic states.  With performance in the outhouse, the spills have been their most spectacular aspects.

Just two days ago, Australia’s coach (thankfully not the captain) was stunningly pole axed.  Tonight, the Australian Prime Minister was toppled although that was not altogether surprising.  But this is not a political blog so that is the last mention of that, except to say that at least Australia has a cricket loving Prime Minister once again.

Back to cricket.  I noticed today that Cricket Australia CEO, James Sutherland has the full support of the CA board.  I guess that he, too, will be shafted shortly. I would also like to know why when Mickey Arthur was sacked, that Pat Howard was the one announcing it, rather than suffering a similar fate.  Surely the high performance manager could be singled out as the worst under achiever of the lot.

Australia started its Ashes campaign today playing Somerset at Taunton.  Interestingly, the Aussies have fielded three opening batsmen (if you count Watson) and five bowlers.  Also interesting, is that Chris Rogers is not playing.  Either Rogers is not in contention for the 1st Test, which I find hard to believe or he is in sparkling form and his place is already assured, which I also find hard to believe.  It is true that Rogers is in good form (in eight County matches this season he has scored 790 runs at 65.83) but it should be remembered that he is not an incumbent team member, has played just one Test and that was years ago.

There is another match before the first Test.  Perhaps we will see him in that.  One thing is sure and that is we won’t be seeing Warner.  Or Mickey Arthur.  Or Julia Gillard.

All the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men Couldn’t put Humpty Together Again

Is this the worst team ever to leave Australian shores in the quest for the Ashes?  Perhaps it is but many teams have been called that over the years and the tag is overused.  So I will stay away from it.  However, this must surely we the most bizarre lead up to an Ashes series.

In recent years, the character of Ashes tours have changed.  This is well documented and indeed, I have observed this myself in the past.  Gone are the days of playing six days a week for five months.  In recent years, the preparation has seen more and more limited overs cricket and less and less first class cricket. But this tour has been more fragmented than Humpty Dumpty.

The Ashes squad assembled in England for a few snap shots in early June.  Then some of the players went to play County cricket, some went off to play for Australia A and some (the minority), played for Australia in their doomed ICC Champions Trophy campaign.

Added to these logistical intrigues are two shambolic affairs.  First, we had the David Warner featherweight championship bar room bout but enough on that.  And today, the coach was sacked.  I have not found out the official reason but Arthur had two years left on his contract.   Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad to see the back of Mickey Arthur.  I didn’t like his methods, I thought the Homework Fiasco was a disgrace all of his making and I don’t think he understands the way Australians think.  I have said it before but I will say it again (because I am right), he’s unAustralian.  And every time I heard him interviewed, he sounded like a pompous corporate spin doctor addressing the press.  “The players as a bowling group now understand what is expected of them as international cricketers.”  (i.e. hand their homework in on time)

Perhaps it was in fact related to the Warner incident.  Perhaps, CA is trying to take advantage of “New Coach Transitional Effect”.  I see this in Rugby League a lot.  After a side has lost for three months straight and the coach has been given the full support of the board, the coach is unceremoniously dumped.  The team then proceeds to win its next match.  That is known as New Coach Transitional Effect and CA have realised that it is Australia’s only chance of a win this series.  Whatever the case, without yet knowing the reasoning, it does seem a strange move on the eve of the Ashes.  It is yet more candy for the British tabloids.

For more laughs, look at the Pakistani leg spinner Fawad Ahmed.  His Australian citizenship was rushed through and no sooner than he had become an Aussie, he left these sunny shores to join Australia A.  Mickey, in an interview with Jim Maxwell, confirmed that he thought it likely that Fawad would be added to the Ashes squad.  Fawad was then belted by Gloucester, who narrowly failed to beat Australia A, having trailed by more than 200 on the first innings.  I don’t know but Fawad and Arthur may well be on the same flight out of Heathrow.

At least Steve Smith has been added to the squad.  This is officially as cover for Michael Clarke and he will be there until at least the second Test.  But surely Australia should be planning to use Smith as the “7 minute Super Sub”!  Perhaps that was it: CA wanted Smith added to the squad to perform the Super Sub role but Arthur protested.  It was not the sort or behaviour expected from the coaching group of an international sporting team.  Therefore, the best solution was to get a coach that would.  Enter Boof Lehmann – the knight on his trusty steed.

That is correct Darren Lehmann will be the new coach.  He has just finished a successful stint as the mentor of Australia A and has been highly praised with the Queensland Bulls.  I doubt he will set any homework.  Lehmann is a players’ man, a former Australian cricketer, was ranked 25th on Warnie’s 50 greatest cricketers of all time and is very… Australian.  Whether he can put Humpty back together again in 2013 is yet to be seen but I think he might have just jumped on a losing horse.

Transportation for the Little Punk

What a scene “Australia’s next captain” has made in the past few weeks.  What a spectacle.  It’s an embarrassment to us colonials.  We descended from convicts and now one of our representatives returns to the homeland, only to show exactly why a certain penal colony was established just over 200 years ago.

David Warner is one lucky young man, indeed.  I would have had him on the first plane home.  Apparently, so too would have James Sutherland.  Economy class.  Baggage even.  Someone will have to explain to me about the judicial system in Australian cricket.  Just today I was reading a book that was set on Corfu in the 1930s.  It commented that you got three years for murder, five years for illegal fishing and executed for being a bandit.  An interesting system.

In Australian cricket, you get two matches for not doing your homework and four matches for assault.

And that was not even the start of it for Warner.  We hadn’t even stopped shaking our heads after the ridiculous Twitter episode.  Quite unbelievably, back street brawler, David Warner took on two professional journalists in…  a war of words.  What a mismatch.  I do concede that Warner did have a point in the first place objecting to his photo being used in conjunction with corruption in IPL.  That was low.  But why resolve it publicly on Twitter?  It was clumsy and ugly.  My favourite was Warner telling them to get a real job.  Coming from someone who plays a game for a living?

Warner will have to make big changes to get back in the team let alone be Australian captain one day.  Perhaps some similarities can be seen with a certain former captain who was also involved in a bar room brawl.  But that is where the similarities end.  When it came to batting, that guy was a genius.  We shall what happens to Warner.  The little convict.