Mickey Arthur reveals Aussie attitude problem


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The Independent Online

Mickey Arthur, the Australia coach, has warned his players they must raise their game if they want to become the top-ranked Test team once more.

Preparations for the third Test against India, which was due to begin today in Mohali, have been overshadowed by the turmoil within the team which has dominated the headlines in recent days.

Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson were told earlier this week they would not be considered for the match after the team management punished them for failing to make a presentation on how the side could improve after the heavy defeat in the second Test.

Vice-captain Watson has since flown home to be with his pregnant wife, hinting he is now considering his future with the national team.

Australia's captain, Michael Clarke, suggested the sanction was imposed for more than one breach of discipline, while Arthur expanded on the decision in his blog: "Being late for a meeting, high skinfolds [body fat measurements], 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 No 1 in the world, all players need to raise the bar and lift their game," he added. "If not, we must be content at being No 3 or 4 or 5 in world cricket because we won't get any better. The players won't learn and we'll continue a vicious cycle.

"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."

The former South Africa coach admitted the past two days had been the toughest of his 11-year coaching career. "The media reaction to this decision was like none I've seen in my coaching career and has certainly divided opinion," he said.

"It is a strong message to everyone in Australian cricket that if you want to play...then we demand excellence. 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."