Cricket Australia Items/Blogs/mickey-arthur/2012/7/13/a-necessary-evil

Mickey Arthur

Arthur: The tour we had to have

13 July 2012 10

When we look back at this ODI tour of England in a year or two, we may well say: “This is the tour we had to have.”

I’ve said publicly that I was concerned there was something missing from the ODI team during the Australian summer. While we won the Commonwealth Bank Series - and overcame two strong ODI nations in India and Sri Lanka - our performances lacked consistency.

This was underlined when we were in the Caribbean and just got over the line against an ambitious but far-from-polished West Indies outfit.

While our Test team has emerged as a relatively settled group in the last year, that exhibited good body language and a winning mentality against India in Australia, our ODI group has failed to progress.

As coaches and selectors, we must now examine the causes of this stagnation. We have an ambition to be number one in all forms of the game and clearly we won’t remain number one in the ICC ODI rankings if we keep playing like we have done over the last few weeks.

We need to find answers and turn this around quickly – starting with the ODI matches against Pakistan, scheduled for late August and early September in the UAE.

 A chance to blood young players

On the positive side of the ledger, we have blooded some young players in English conditions. These are young men that we have high hopes for both with bat and ball and they will be better for the experience.

Some of them will have more opportunity later this month to seize the red Duke ball and play some long-form cricket over here for Australia A.

That will be an important moment in their development as they learn to cope with cricket conditions that are entirely alien to those they are used to in Australia.

We want to breed hard cricketers throughout our system with the skills and toughness required to survive and flourish at the top of  international sport. Australia has prided itself on setting standards over the last twenty years and we’re not interested in mediocrity.

The fans deserve more and I’ll continue to challenge the playing group and support staff to improve every day. We have some very big challenges ahead in the next fifteen months.

Bitter disappointment

It was bitterly disappointing to sit in the changing rooms in Durham and Old Trafford, realising the series was gone and we had been soundly beaten by a well-drilled opposition.

Throughout the series, we failed to deliver match-winning batting partnerships and we didn’t take enough early wickets, in any game, to put England’s middle-order under pressure.

England played simple cricket and executed their game plan well each time. I believe we have the talent within our squad to do exactly the same but on this occasion we failed to live up to our own expectations. When you’re representing your country that is a hard pill to swallow.

As selectors, along with the rest of the NSP, Michael and I will sit down and work out our best combination for the games in the UAE over the next week or so.

We will need to understand how those calf strains sustained by Shane Watson and Brett Lee are progressing and make some judgments on personnel based on what we’ve seen here in England and what we know we’ll experience in the Middle East.

Finding answers

We’ll reconvene as a squad for short training camp in Darwin before we fly to the UAE and we’ll be working hard as a group to ask questions, find answers and make big improvements.

We need to. In my coaching career, some of the most important moments have come when the team I’ve been coaching has been soundly beaten.

It provides a moment of clarity for the player, coach and selector and can clear a path so a road map to success can be created for individuals and the team they represent.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
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