Champions Trophy: Has Aussie attitude ever been so poor?

Standards in the tourists' dressing room have been slipping for ages, but they haven't been this low since 1987

After the heavy Ashes defeat at home two years ago, Australian cricket gave itself a jolly good talking to. This is quite the fashion in modern sport when teams lose and in this case took the form of a Performance Review known as the Argus Report after the chap who chaired it.

In view of recent events culminating (or culminating so far anyway) with one of their players throwing a punch at an English opponent in a late-night cum early morning Birmingham bar its findings have assumed a new pertinence. Among the major issues identified by Don Argus and his panel of experts in September 2011 was the team’s culture.

They found that the attitudes reported by its witnesses were quite different from those needed to be successful at elite level. “Remedying these issues,” it said becoming fortune’s hostage, “is clearly critical and requires immediate and concerted effort.”

The success of this endeavour can probably be judged by the latest crisis to strike the Australian team. David Warner’s errant punch – he failed to make full contact – may suggest there is work still to be done.

Argus, a former mining tycoon and one of the most deeply respected businessmen in Australia, made several recommendations and added: “To reinforce this direction, the selectors including the captain and head coach must ensure the right people are in the team in terms of skills, attitude and character.”

Three months ago on a tour of India, four players were dropped from a Test match because they had failed to fulfil obligations imposed on them by management. It became known as the homework fiasco.

On this tour, Michael Clarke, their captain and best batsman by an outback mile has yet to play a game because of a chronic back injury. They are desperate for him to regain fitness. It is one thing after another and on the field the team struggles and looks short of class.

Doubtless another panel of experts sitting in disciplinary mode will decide shortly if Warner should be further punished for his latest misdemeanour. As an interim measure he was dropped from Australia’s team for their Champions Trophy match against New Zealand.

He has previous of recent vintage. It was only three weeks ago that he was up before the beak and fined for an expletive-ridden Twitter rant against an Australian journalist.

Whatever the outcome of the deliberations – and being sent home from the Ashes is possible – it is pretty clear that Australia are in a mess. The other day in these columns it was possible to observe that they were up the creek and might soon lose the paddle.

That moment may have arrived when Warner stepped over to Joe Root in the Walkabout bar, lending a different dimension to the whole idea of going walkabout. In less than a month Warner and Root are, or were, supposed to be rivals in the most enduring and evocative of all sporting international sporting contests.

In a brief, terse statement about Warner’s “unprovoked physical attack” the England and Wales Cricket Board said portentously that they “have concluded this is a matter for Cricket Australia and have no further comment to make.”

Perhaps they will keep as schtum as they managed during the Kevin Pietersen imbroglio last year which would be like a double vow of silence. But the brevity of their statement, making it clear where any blame lay, was to ensure that the series itself will start and continue amid greater strain and tension than it ever has.

During the perpetual analysis and the quest to find out what really happened in the Walkabout, blow by blow as it were, there was the usual censorious muttering about the presence of professional sportsmen in a public bar in the wee small hours.

In Root’s case he had been on cricket duty permanently since early May when he captained England Lions against New Zealand. Either he had been preparing for a match or playing one.

True, this is in the middle of major tournament but hours earlier England had enjoyed a significant win against their oldest rivals and had five days before their next match, two of them off the training treadmill. He is 22, a beer or two seemed in order without the threat of sanction or a biff on the nose.

What Australia do now and where Australia go is fraught with difficulty. They can hardly invoke Argus mark two. They could wrap Warner across the knuckles again but that would not address the core of the trouble.

In 1987 when Australian cricket seemed to be deep in the mire after losing the Ashes for the second time they gazed at their navel for a bit. It worked but only because it was accompanied by the emergence in rapid succession of hard-nosed and extremely gifted players.

Allan Border was the first and his part in the revival and the dominant years that followed is too easily overlooked now. But when he sat on the Argus panel he could at least say he had seen it all before.

Australian cricket, like its English counterpart, is under threat from football codes, in this case Aussie Rules and rugby league.  Like cricket in England, however, like cricket everywhere it retains a perversely quaint status in the eyes of the nation at large. Hitting opponents in bars is not part of that culture. In the case of David Warner that may have to be considered.

Ashes dust-ups: When the rivalry goes too far...

1932: Bodyline

England captain Douglas Jardine devised controversial tactics to combat Donald Bradman. His bowlers, in particular Harold Larwood, bowled fast, short deliveries which bruised Australia's batsmen. The ensuing outcry reached governmental levels.

1971: Snow bowling

England bowler John Snow was warned for pitching balls in short after striking Australian batsman Terry Jenner on the head in Melbourne. Snow was jostled by a fan and had bottles thrown at him.

1977: Botham v Chappell

Ian Botham struck Ian Chappell in a Melbourne bar after Botham became angry at Chappell's criticism of England. Chappell chased Botham around a car park, although details are disputed. The duo came together again in 2010.

1979: Lillee's bat

England captain Mike Brearley objected when Dennis Lillee walked out with a metal bat in Perth. Umpires eventually allowed him to continue.

2005: Ponting outburst

Australia captain Ricky Ponting snapped following a run-out by substitute Gary Pratt at Trent Bridge, screaming and swearing at England's dressing room, accusing them of using a specialist replacement.

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker