Cricket Australia Items/Blogs/mickey-arthur/2013/3/13/we-need-to-raise-the-bar

Mickey Arthur

We need to raise the bar

13 March 2013 212

To say the last couple of days have been challenging would be an understatement.

When we sat down as a leadership group and made these tough decisions I knew it would polarise public opinion, but internally I certainly know we’ve made the absolute right decision.

This is a line in the sand moment. A point we’ll look back on in a couple of years’ time when we’re back to number one in the world and say was a defining moment.

The last week and a half since the end of the Hyderabad Test has been the toughest in my 11 years coaching.
The media reaction to this decision was like none I’ve seen in my coaching career and has certainly divided opinion.

Some people have commented it’s been one of the biggest stories in Australian cricket for a decade or more.

Let’s be absolutely clear.

The decision to suspend Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja for not adhering to a team request is the defining moment, but it has been a culmination of lots of small minor indiscretions that have built up to now.

Some people may ask why it was left to get to this point, such an ‘extreme measure’.

We have given lots of latitude and flexibility with a young and inexperienced squad.

We know it’s going to take time for them to grow and mature, but there is only so long the leadership group can hold their hand.

This decision was about sending a strong message that it is about time all players had some accountability for their actions.

Being late for a meeting, high skinfolds, wearing the wrong attire, back-chat or giving attitude are just some examples of these behavioural issues that have been addressed discretely but continue to happen.

If we’re deadly serious about getting back to number one in the world, all players need to raise the bar and lift their game.

If not, we must be content at being number three or four or five in world cricket because we won’t get any better. The players won’t learn and we’ll continue a vicious cycle.

It is a strong message to everyone in Australian cricket that if you want to play for the Australian Cricket Team, then we demand excellence and corner-cutting, taking short-cuts or arriving with a bad attitude will no longer be tolerated.

We want to be the Spanish football team, Manchester United or McLaren of world cricket. The absolute pinnacle where high standards are not expected, they are second nature.

Australian cricket fans deserve nothing less. It is a privilege to wear the Baggy Green.

We now must look ahead to the Third Test.

There is no denying we have a mountain of work to do and to stand four players down knowing how much is on the line ahead of this match I think shows just how disappointed we’ve been.

It’s going to be far, far from easy but our new goal is to try and level this series and somehow manage to take the Border-Gavaskar Trophy back home with us.

People will say we’re kidding ourselves and there is no doubt it’s going to be a big ask, but now is the start of that turning point where we take our on and off field standards as high as we can.

I hope you’ll ride out that journey with us.

Mickey Arthur

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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