The four suspensions in the Australian team we have seen this week could not have come at a worse time. Let me first say, that in a team environment at the highest level, one-percenters can be the difference between success and failure. Being on time for meetings, training and games was always very important when I played. It ensured a high level of discipline which translated to strong on-field performances.
I can’t see why that would have changed in the years since I have retired. Like in anything, if you let small issues slide, it can create larger, more significant problems. AMy initial thoughts are that there must be more to it, because suspensions at Test level don’t usually come from misdemeanours. If there isn’t more to it, it’s a little harsh.
All of that being said, the way these issues have been handled within the team and by Cricket Australia is a concern. Problems like the ones that have been reported in India, if those reports are accurate, should always be dealt with in-house. Overnight in Australia we saw Shane Watson arrive home after a long haul flight to get bombarded by reporters.
Although I thought he handled himself well, he was left in a very difficult position, unnecessarily. I support all of the Australian players, and I can’t see why that same support isn’t being extended by Cricket Australia at the moment, especially during difficult times like this.
Of course, all of this plays into the hands of India, but also England, whom we face next in a massive Ashes Series. To see ex-English players come out ridiculing us is embarrassing, made worse by the fact their comments are spot-on. This situation needs to be knocked on the head and there are two easy ways to do that: (1) keep issues in-house and deal with them away from the media glare (2) improve the level of support being shown to the players, in and outside of the team.
Looking ahead to the third Test, I think it could now go either way. The Australians could rally around one another and play well, or capitulate and get destroyed by the Indians. My hope is that Michael Clarke and the players selected use the criticism to bring them closer together, but there’s the real possibility that too much unnecessary pressure has been placed on the young boys, who will struggle with the weight of expectation. Either way, it’s going to be extremely difficult in Mohali, especially with India playing so well. Professional Management Group