Ashes 2013: Michael Clarke called Shane Watson 'a cancer on the team' alleges fired Australia coach Mickey Arthur

Leaked documents for unfair dismissal case  reveal full extent of the split in Australian camp

Cricket Correspondent

Australia’s quest to regain the Ashes was severely disrupted yet again yesterday when court papers revealed a split at the heart of the team. The former coach Mickey Arthur, who was sacked two weeks before the series began, has alleged in a claim for unfair dismissal that the captain, Michael Clarke, told him that senior player Shane Watson was “a cancer on the team”.

The tourists, who lost a thrilling first Test by 14 runs in Nottingham on Sunday, have been beset by dressing-room discord for months. They hoped that the astonishing removal of Arthur and his immediate replacement by Darren Lehmann would right the listing ship.

It appeared to have worked and their obdurate performance at Trent Bridge, allied to regular briefings that they were all friends together have been persuasive. But Arthur’s incendiary statements in a submission to the Fair Work Commission in Sydney have put the focus firmly back on relationships in the team, especially between Clarke and Watson, with the second Test  beginning at Lord’s tomorrow.

Arthur, a South African, is claiming A$4m (£2.44m) from his former  employers, Cricket Australia, and one of several grounds for his complaint  alleges racial discrimination. He has also stated that CA did not support him last year when he dropped four players from a Test match for failing to fill in a team questionnaire, an affair which inevitably became known as “Homeworkgate”. Watson was one of the disciplined players.

It was an open secret that Clarke and Watson were not bosom pals but since Arthur was removed from his post they have been intent on showing the world that they can at least rub along. For most of the match in Nottingham they stood next to each other at first and second slip, though there was an eloquent moment late in England’s second innings when neither moved for a catch as the ball flew between them off an edge from Stuart Broad.

Arthur claims in the documents lodged by his lawyers and obtained by the Australian TV network Channel 7, that he was “the meat in the sandwich” between conflicting camps. According to his statement, the Clarke and Watson factions in the dressing room were constantly at loggerheads.

But the former coach also suggests that he was discriminated against because he “didn’t understand the Australian way”. His employers decided to sack him following the incident during the Champions Trophy last month when the opening batsman David Warner punched the England batsman Joe Root in the face in a Birmingham bar hours after the sides had played each other.

In his court submission, Arthur states that it was Watson who told him what Warner had done, although the player has denied doing so. Warner was banned for two matches, fined A$11,500 and is currently on secondment with the Australia A team in southern Africa so he can have time in the middle.

The emergence of Arthur’s  detailed claim was deeply embarrassing for Australia and may unravel the good work that appeared to have been done since Lehmann took over. It was certainly the last thing they would want as they try urgently to regroup after their heartbreaking loss at Trent Bridge.

Clarke said yesterday when he fulfilled a sponsor’s engagement at a London hotel: “First, I’m not going to get involved in it, the most important thing is that we as a team are as focused as we can be on Thursday. We’ve obviously got a huge game in front of us, the boys are feeling great, as we showed in the last Test match we’re here to fight and do as well as we possibly can in this Test series, and I think we showed that the other day.”

Nor was his vice-captain, Brad Haddin, who replaced Watson in the position, eager to comment on the latest revelations.

“For legal reasons I can’t go into it,” said Haddin. “All I can say is that it’s pretty obvious where the team is going, that’s as plain as the nose on your face. All the other stuff we talk about it is white noise. It hasn’t affected the side at all.”

Arthur himself, who is on holiday in his native South Africa, was aghast that the documents had been placed in the public domain. He had been hoping that his negotiations with CA could be kept private.

“I am extremely upset and disappointed that confidential documents appear to have been given by others to the media,” he said in a statement issued through his lawyers. “The matters raised by my application to the FWC concerning issues within the Australian cricket team are very sensitive, which is why I was at pains to keep them confidential, especially at this time. I have kept them confidential, unfortunately others have made them public. I want to stress how important to me the members of the team were, and still remain to me. The welfare of the Australian cricket team is utmost to me.”

There is much sympathy over the way in which Arthur was treated,  although it was becoming clear that some members of the team had not responded to his methods. But he was shown scant understanding by Shane Warne, the former leg-spinner, who told Sky: “It sounds like sour grapes to me and it’s pretty disappointing. He should have been grateful for the opportunity to coach the Australian team.”

When Clarke and Watson emerge from the Long Room tomorrow all eyes will be on their every move.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments