The failure of four members of the Australian cricket team to do homework set for them by the Australian Coach led to their suspension before the third Test in India, and sparked public outrage and jokes at the expense of the team on the internet. Having lost the first two test matches in Mohali, according to ABC News, Coach Mickey Arthur asked players including James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Johnson and Vice-Captain Shane Watson to prepare a 3-point presentation on what they could “mentally and technically” bring to the team to get through the remaining Test matches. After the quartet failed to do so, Arthur cited a “breach of team discipline” as the reason for making the players unavailable for selection for the upcoming Test. The ABC reported that Shane Watson then left the tour most likely as a result of “injured pride”, as well as to be with his wife who was due to give birth, and was said to be contemplating his future in cricket. Sports bloggers and other sportspeople expressed outrage online at the homework debacle. Former England skipper, Michael Vaughan tweeted an image of Bill Gates next to a screen that reads “Why I should be the Australian Cricket Team’s PowerPoint Coach.” According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a number of media outlets are poking fun at the notion of standing down four players over a homework task in a time where the skills of the team are vital, and have questioned the relevance of written homework tasks in a sport setting. One source suggested that Arthur’s actions have taken the Australian team from “on-field embarrassment to off-field crisis”; another quoted Shane Warne tweeting that it is beyond the scope of the role for a coach to be involved with selecting players, and the Captain should have had the final say. Former domestic and Australian cricketer Brett Geeves reported to the ABC that he too was chastised for not completing homework when he was playing in what was “only a week opener” for Tasmania, and it had a detrimental effect on his morale as well as that of remaining teammates.
However, former cricketer Geoff Lawson told the ABC that it is Arthur’s job to prepare his team for winning, and as they were not, he would have been under “tremendous pressure” to “get the job done”. Captain Michael Clarke told the Sydney Morning Herald that he “completely endorsed” the coach’s decision, stating that players failing to reach necessary standards set for them, whatever they were, is “unacceptable”.
As professional sportsmen, the four suspended cricketers have been criticised for not taking seriously a task that was set as part of their employment. While an “aggrieved” Watson returned to India for the fourth and final Test, sports blog ‘The Roar’ has revealed that after the cricket team’s “disastrous tour of India”, the National Selection Panel is set for a “ruthless clean-out”. The Panel will reportedly become a three-person panel again, with Coach and Captain to be “demoted”.