Former Australia coach Mickey Arthur believes the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa was an inevitable result of an unwillingness to improve the culture in the country’s entire cricket set-up. The South African, now coach of Pakistan, was sacked by Australia in 2013 after a series of embarrassing standoffs with some of the test team over standards of professionalism on an ill-fated tour of India and leading up to an Ashes series.
“Unfortunately, it was always going to end like this,” Arthur wrote on the PlayersVoice website of the incident in Cape Town that led to bans for captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft.
“Despite generational change, independent reviews and too many behavioural spotfires to list, Cricket Australia and the national team had demonstrated no real willingness or desire to improve the culture within their organisation from season to season. “That could lead to only one conclusion. An explosion. A deterioration of standards that would culminate in an incident so bad, so ugly, that it would shame the leaders of the organisation into taking drastic action… ”
Arthur said the behaviour of the Australia team over the five years since he was replaced by Darren Lehmann had been “boorish and arrogant”. He had particularly scathing words for “the line”, the limits of good conduct on the pitch which the Australian team have long argued they stayed just the right side of.
“I’ve hated this talk about ‘the line’,” he wrote. “What is the line? Who sets it? Who dictates how it is enforced? It is totally different culture-to-culture, yet the Australians believe they’re the ones who should be setting it?
“That it’s okay to intimidate a person from another country, another culture, during the day and be buddies with him afterwards? Nonsense.
“The Aussies have played the victim when they deem the other team has overstepped the mark. And when they’ve been in the ascendancy and behaved badly, everything is okay because they have determined as much.”
Arthur said the ball-tampering scandal might ultimately end up being a force for good in helping prompt reform in Australian cricket. “An incident like this had to happen for the necessary cultural shift to take place. Australian cricket has been in an ivory tower for too long,” he said.
“They had to take decisive action. If they didn’t, things would inevitably return to the way they had been and another major incident would’ve been inevitable. “The job to repair the damage to the Australian cricket brand is underway.
“By doing so, Cricket Australia might just improve the tone and standard of the way the game is played around the world.”