A week can be a long time in cricket, though evidently not long enough for Mickey Arther to argue his case for continuing as Australia's coach.
While the Champions Trophy was a dismal tournament for the Aussies, it is arguable whether it was much of a marker for the upcoming Ashes. With Michael Clarke having been out through injury and others in the one day squad not staying on, there was about to be a change of playing personnel in any case. So to ditch Arthur at this stage suggests that results were not the only problem. Then again, the shenanigans of homework-gate during the recent series in India were evidence already of serious differences of approach in the camp.
There has been a fundamental suspicion about coaches in the Australian game - typified by Shane Warne's well-known remark about them being useful only for travelling to games in. But when world-beating players were ten a cent that attitude was easier to justify. Frankly, they could have had Kylie Minogue in charge and taken the field doing the locomotion, but England and the rest would still have taken regular poundings.
In 2013 Australia are not a great side. There are some decent players but very few world-beaters. In that context, if his crime was attempting to unpick the current status quo then Micky Arthur might have cause to feel a tad aggrieved. The plus point for Darren Lehman, his successor, is that things can hardly get any worse for the team.
No room for English malaise
Despite Australian woes, it is still not entirely clear that the Ashes will be completely one-sided. England, after all, still seem to have issues of their own to resolve. Dispensing with Nick Compton for the warm-up against Essex may be better than making a change at the top of the order mid-Ashes, but if Kevin Pietersen's injury makes a re-appearance there will be have to be some shuffling in any case.
And with Graeme Swann's fitness obviously still a source of anxiety too, there may also be a need to consider a replacement in the spin department at some stage. Monty Panesar remains the obvious choice for tests, with James Tredwell perhaps too much of a one-day specialist in the eyes of the selectors. But Simon Kerrigan at Lancashire will push hard to get his name in the frame.
Potential injuries aside, Alistair Cook's captaincy remains relatively untested, especially in England. And there is arguably too much reliance on Jimmy Anderson when it comes to new ball wickets.
Beating New Zealand in the summer's early tests was all very well but England will do well to be on their mettle against their next opponents. Cornered koalas might not be quite as dangerous as cornered tigers but they can still give a nasty scratch.
Vive le cricket Francais!
Having rolled down to the South of France for a week (and nearly rolled off the tarmac at a windy Perpignon airport), an absence of cricket is entirely to be expected. It's more Vin Rouge than Vingt-Vingt, which is altogether not such a bad thing.
But being in France does rather beg the question: what has happened to French cricket? Not the state of the national side (currently in Europe's second division with Gibraltar and Israel) but the game involving a hoard of close fielders all aiming to strike the batsman's legs with the ball.
I spent countless hours as a child in the '80s tonking a tennis ball to the other side of the garden and debating the precise rules around a bowler passing the ball to another player who was better placed to deliver it to the batter. Yet I cannot recall having seen the game being played for donkey's years.
It is not obvious to conclude that this reflects a growing interest in real cricket. But given the gradual deconstruction of the game into its base elements via the IPL, it may be time for the French version to make a comeback. Half a dozen players, no pitch necessary and little need for protective equipment: add in Chris Gayle, a few cheerleaders and some cheese and wine and France will become the cricketing centre for the next decade.
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- Graeme Swann
- Kylie Minogue
- Monty Panesar