In the third and final Test of South Africas tour Down Under in 2009,Australia managed a solitary win. A big margin,a 103-run victory,balmed over the sores of a series already lost. The players retired to the SCG dressing room,opened a few bottles of champagne and postponed the highlight of the evening singing Under the Southern Cross until the very end. One team member,however,wanted to hurry the process up. His model girlfriend,he is said to have told the rest,much to their displeasure,was waiting for him outside. It resulted in this man having his throat grabbed by Simon Katich,until being freed by some of the others.
Michael Clarke should know a thing or two about not living up to protocol set by the Australian dressing room.
No one was fired,no one was suspended,no action was taken by the Australian think-tank. Today,a day when their man-management skills sunk to their lowest ebb,Clarke justified his suspension of four players (including the vice-captain) by saying that it wasnt just the missing of a self-improvement presentation deadline that forced him to do so. It shows a lack of respect to the head coach and in Australian cricket thats unacceptable. Really? Shane Warne is said to have openly disagreed with everything John Buchanan said off the field. It didnt stop him from playing on it,and playing bloody well. Clearly,there have been better ways to settle a dispute in Australias dressing room.
Bizarre is an apt way to describe the current crisis in it. Yes,they have been thoroughly outplayed in the two Tests and yes,the players havent stepped it up,but Clarke and coach Mickey Arthur have just made Indias task of wrapping up the series in Mohali so much easier. The opposition and the fans flocking to procure tickets will feel nothing but cheated at the thought of a diluted contest. But none will feel more robbed than the four Aussies in question.
All said and done,isnt it the captains job,or the coachs,to be coming up with the answers when their players who just collectively happen to have near-zero experience of playing in the subcontinent are asked difficult questions by the conditions? If not breakthrough solutions,then shouldnt they at least do their bit to uplift the morale as a young team spirals through a harsh learning curve? Not in this Australian set-up.
Here,they suspend Usman Khawaja a man with the sum total experience of six Tests and one who has only served drinks so far for not being the wise guy.
(Aditya is a senior correspondent based in New Delhi)