Mickey Arthur, the former Australia coach, has given a withering assessment of the cricket culture among his former charges, saying the “explosion” witnessed in response to the ball-tampering scandal was inevitable.
Arthur, the South African who now heads up Pakistan, was sacked by Australia in 2013 in response to the homework-gate fiasco on their tour of India followed by David Warner’s punch on Joe Root in a Birmingham drinking establishment.
Writing about the current situation in Australian cricket, which has led to three players receiving lengthy suspensions amid an outcry over the team’s general on-field behaviour, Arthur said: “Unfortunately, it was always going to end like this. 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, it would shame the leaders of the organisation into taking drastic action.”
Arthur was replaced by Darren Lehmann, who despite being cleared of an involvement in the ball tampering has since called time on his tenure as coach. The 48-year-old was to be part of a “cultural review” into the side but this will now fall on a new man, with Justin Langer expected to be a frontrunner.
How the Australia team go about their cricket from here, following an incendiary series with South Africa that has seen players on both sides embroiled in confrontation throughout, remains to be seen. Lehmann, before he quit, had held up New Zealand as the model for behaviour.
Arthur admitted to faults of his own during a three-year reign but described Australia’s recent approach as “boorish and arrogant”, while condemning a propensity to dictate “the line” of acceptability to opponents at the same time.
He added: “I’ve hated this talk about ‘the line’. 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 OK 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 OK because they have determined as much.”