Pak­istan coach Arthur plots demise of for­mer team Aus­tralia

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The merry-go-round of coach­ing jobs in in­ter­na­tional cricket in­evitably leads to awk­ward re­unions but few could be more thorny than Mickey Arthur’s en­counter with his old team Aus­tralia.

Three years af­ter be­ing sacked as the side’s head coach, the South African will hope to guide Pak­istan to a break­through test se­ries win Down Un­der, with the first match start­ing in Bris­bane on Thurs­day.

Coaches rarely get to choose the man­ner of their exit but Arthur’s dis­missal was es­pe­cially ac­ri­mo­nious, and the trig­ger for a high-pro­file sev­er­ance claim against his for­mer em­ploy­ers Cricket Aus­tralia.

He was less than two years into the post when his ten­ure be­gan to un­ravel dur­ing the 2013 tour of In­dia where Michael Clarke’s team were white­washed 4-0.

Four play­ers were stood down for a test dur­ing the in­fa­mous ‘home­work­gate’ scan­dal and months later, open­ing bats­man David Warner punched Eng­land’s Joe Root at a bar on a boozy night out dur­ing the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy tour­na­ment in Lon­don.

With team dis­ci­pline ap­pear­ing in com­plete dis­ar­ray, Arthur was dis­missed three weeks be­fore the Ashes and re­placed by Dar­ren Lehmann, who re­mains Aus­tralia’s coach.

A res­i­dent of Perth for over six years, Arthur said he felt no extra mo­ti­va­tion in beat­ing the home side.

“We just want to win ev­ery test se­ries we play,” the 48-year-old told lo­cal me­dia in Bris­bane.

But he was ag­grieved by the dis­missal and the blow smarted for years. A leak of his tes­ti­mony dur­ing his le­gal chal­lenge against Cricket Aus­tralia painted the team as dys­func­tional and riven by a per­son­al­ity clash be­tween cap­tain Clarke and vice cap­tain Shane Wat­son.

He later de­scribed his coach­ing en­vi­ron­ment as “suf­fo­cat­ing” in a book last year and said Lehmann was the ul­ti­mate bene­fac­tor of his dis­missal, given the au­ton­omy that Arthur said he per­son­ally craved but was never af­forded.

Three years on, Arthur faces an Aus­tralian team emerg­ing from an­other cri­sis but with head coach Lehmann given the chance to right the ship.

Arthur may have in­ti­mate knowl­edge of the Aus­tralian sys­tem, but the per­son­nel have changed.

Of the team he coached to a fourth con­sec­u­tive test loss in In­dia in 2013, only cap­tain Steve Smith, wick­et­keeper Matthew Wade, Warner and spin­ner Nathan Lyon are likely to face Pak­istan at the Gabba.

While coach­ing Pak­istan to a 2-0 test se­ries loss in New Zealand last month, Arthur would have noted with in­ter­est how South Africa were able to hum­ble Aus­tralia 2-1 on home pitches, with­out pace spear­head Dale Steyn and reg­u­lar cap­tain AB de Vil­liers.

He would have recog­nised the crit­i­cism that rained down on the Aus­tralian team from pun­dits and for­mer play­ers and washed away chair­man of se­lec­tors Rod Marsh and a string of un­der-per­form­ing play­ers.

Most fa­mil­iar to Arthur, how­ever, may be Aus­tralia’s abil­ity to re­gen­er­ate and come roar­ing out of the abyss. Within a year of his sack­ing, Aus­tralia white­washed Eng­land 5-0, en­joyed a rare se­ries win in South Africa and re-cap­tured the top rank­ing in tests.—Reuters

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