I have played a lot of cricket and not everyone in the various dressing rooms I was part of got on. Mickey Arthur, the former Australia coach, has reignited the row around the team by revealing, albeit inadvertantly, that captain Michael Clarke and Shane Watson don’t get on. But then Shane Warne went on the record about how he didn’t see eye to eye with Adam Gilchrist and it didn’t stop them being crucial components of one of the greatest ever cricket teams.
There were different factions within the Australia team and Arthur could not cope with that. He did not manage the system in a way in which he could get the best out of his players. But it saddens me that he has felt the need to say all these things. Everyone has the right to have their day in court but it’s strange because he was so dignified in his press conference after he was sacked.
He was talking about how, as a South African, he was racially discriminated against because he “didn’t understand the Australian way”. So what is that exactly? For me the Aussie way is all about “mateship”– that’s how we fight and it’s the way we went to war. It’s sad that when you’re in trouble, you throw out the race card.
The thing to remember is that all the boys have to respect each other as cricketers. That’s a big part of our psyche as Australian players. Clarke’s captaincy has not been great off the field, and the boys have been playing up and have shown him less respect than they should have. Now that may be all right if you happen to be superstars but this lot are average at best. They need to smarten up their act.
Watson is a bit of a loner, but then Don Bradman was, too – not that there’s any comparison! Watson doesn’t say much, but then neither did Steve Waugh. Watson’s behaviour is a bit different, and that means he is slightly misunderstood. But the other players should be able to cope with that. You don’t all have to be full-bore mates to head in the right direction.
Having said that, from what I’ve seen in the first Test all these guys seem to be enjoying each other’s company and it was not like that when they got beat four-zip in India, let me tell you. There were smiles on faces at Trent Bridge and the body language was Test-class, not just first-class. It looks like the guys are starting to relish their work.
We can go out at Lord’s with confidence high
We can take a lot of confidence to Lord’s today, more than England can, in fact. We opened up a few cracks in the England unit. Our bowling was a bit better than theirs, the catching was fantastic. We got more out of the match at Trent Bridge than England did and we’ll be going to Lord’s with a bit of a swagger.
To put your helmet on and walk down those stairs and out through the Long Room, past all those members giving you a big cheer, life doesn’t get any better than that. That’s the ultimate as a cricketer.
We’ve only lost twice in 120 years at Lord’s and if we can get off to a good start today then I don’t think we’ll lose this time. It’s always been a happy hunting ground for our batsmen, and if it’s a sunny day and England decide to bowl first, they won’t want to be out there too long because of all the hard yards they had to put in during the second innings in Nottingham.
A note of caution for the home side: I would worry for England if Jimmy Anderson breaks down. They can’t afford too many injuries because they’ve got a couple of young guys in the top six, there’s no one anywhere near as good as Graeme Swann in the spin department and there’s not much on the bench when it comes to the fast bowlers either.
The England hierarchy have got to be careful with the management of their players. You saw how it could all go wrong with Kevin Pietersen’s knee injury in New Zealand earlier this year. And there’s no doubt that Anderson will be feeling it after his marathon spell on that final day.
Clarke should review he how uses his reviews
As for the Decision Review System, Clarke has not used it well and he needs to work out a better system. But then he’s not the only one – Roger Federer has said he has no idea how to use the challenges in tennis.
What does need changing is this: if the bowler challenges an umpire’s decision when he gives the batsman not out and DRS shows that the ball was just flicking the stumps but not enough to be certain one way or the other, the original decision should stand but the bowling side should not lose one of their referrals. That’s not fair.
Another thing that’s not acceptable: if an umpire has a bad game he simply shouldn’t play in the next Test. Both the umpires at Trent Bridge had shockers. If I make a pair as a batsman, am I coming back in the next game? No, I’m not. How many times have those two guys at Nottingham stood in an Ashes Test? This is something different, this is good versus evil. This is tribal.
Was Swann really spraying deodorant on his hands?
Finally, I think everyone is getting a bit self-righteous. Should he walk, should he not walk… We all need to take a big breath. But, having said that, players really should not be spraying their hands, like Swann has been filmed doing. What’s he up to? I remember back in 2009 some England players used lollipops to shine the ball and help it swing.
Now they are claiming that Swann has been using deodorant to dry his hands but towels do that job just as effectively, don’t they? Whatever he was doing, he was trying to do it surreptitiously, and you can see Stuart Broad giving him a funny look. For me that’s against the spirit of the game.