Punishing four Australian players for not doing their homework is just petty

Published: 13th March 2013 04:42 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th March 2013 04:42 PM   |  A+A-

I understand what they are doing with the culture of the team and trying to climb back to No 1 in the world, although to me the punishment does not fit the crime.

Becoming No 1 is a long way off at this stage, particularly the way Australia are playing and with the issues surrounding the team.

In isolation it looks as though four players have been punished for not doing homework set by the coach, Mickey Arthur. That sounds ridiculous when the team need to win two Tests to draw the series against India. This problem simply compounds the fact the coach should not be a selector.

To me the coach of any international team is a facilitator – someone to be in the background. He is a sounding board, a confidante for the players. If a player is struggling with his technique it is up to the coach to help him. He prepares players for cricket matches. That is his role.

The homework is just the final straw, it seems. The core of the problem is the team are not playing well because of inconsistent selection and rotation of the squad at the wrong times and this has put the players under pressure.

The coach should not be asking for homework. He should be creating an atmosphere where players feel relaxed, not on tenterhooks all the time about their place. When players are relaxed they feel at ease with their game and perform at their best.

Homework is just petty and we cannot afford to lose James Pattinson or Shane Watson when the team are 2-0 down – or at any stage, for that matter.

To ask players what they think about how individuals and the team can improve should lead to a simple answer. You put players in a relaxed environment, have a couple of drinks and a laugh – cricket is meant to be fun, after all.

Some people might call this old school but sometimes the old way is the best way. When things are going wrong it is not about naughty boy nets: it is about trying to make players feel at ease.

The team have gone through a lot of issues over the past 12 months and many of the problems have been caused by the selectors. All the players are uncertain about their place in the team because of the way teams and squads have been chosen.

When players are constantly looking over their shoulder and not feeling confident of their place it breeds selfishness. That is a serious problem and runs far deeper than handing in a scrap of paper to the coach.

The management have said this is a line in the sand. The next time the coach asks them to do something, you can bet the players will listen but I am not sure that is the right way to handle the team. Is that really going to make Australia No 1 again?

What can help bridge the gap is getting the best team on the park. Forget bits and pieces players, we need talented cricketers with the right attitude. It is not about averages when picking the team.

It is about ticker and who wants to be in the contest and fight the war. This has been lacking in the selectors’ decisions.

My team for the first Ashes Test on July 10 would have five or six changes from the India series.

David Warner and Shane Watson should open. Watto is hurting now but I would like to see him be mature enough to return to the fold.

Shaun Marsh is in at three. He is a talent. Give him 10 Tests and he will perform in more than half of them.

Clarke is one of the best players in the world at the moment and I would have Matthew Wade at five with Callum Ferguson my spare batter. Moises Henriques has shown a calmness in his game in India and could improve the higher the level at which he plays.

James Faulkner is a left-armer who seams the ball, bowls well to left-handers and is a young kid with plenty of aggression in him. He performs really well under pressure. Glenn Maxwell has done well so far but could drop out to accommodate Ferguson.

Nathan Coulter-Nile has played only one Twenty20 game for Australia but bowls at over 90mph and is unpredictable. He needs to get a bit more aggression and cunning into his bowling but he has an X-factor and can turn the game with one spell. His batting is dangerous, too. Pattinson is a good young fast bowler and the last place would be chosen depending on the conditions.

Australia have time to get it right before the first Ashes Test. Injured players will come back such as Ryan Harris, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins.

They can also put this silly homework incident to bed if the selectors start trusting the players and giving them more confidence to play for their country.

Shane Warne's team to win back the Ashes this summer

1 David Warner

2 Shane Watson

3 Shaun Marsh

4 Michael Clarke

5 Matthew Wade/Callum Ferguson

6 Moises Henriques

7 James Faulkner

8 Glenn Maxwell

9 Nathan Coulter-Nile

10 James Pattinson

11 Nathan Lyon/ Peter Siddle/Jackson Bird/Mitchell Starc – depending on conditions


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