Of course, if you’re supposedly a vital member of the side you can ignore him but he won’t have the clout to discipline you because he needs you if he wants to win games and hold his job.
That would seem to be the explanation for the homework incident, where a five minute task that might be useful getting everybody’s minds on the job after a break is ignored because four blokes don’t feel it’s important.
On that basis, I’d have to applaud the decision to terminate the contract, and would definitely endorse the choice of Darren Lehmann as Arthur’s replacement because if the current lot won’t listen to an Australian who’s had an extended run at the highest level and showed himself to be reasonably astute in the coaching department there isn’t much chance they’ll listen to anyone.
So I’d like to be a fly on the wall when the Ashes squad sits down at Taunton later today and Lehmann starts laying out the way things are going to operate from here on. Hopefully it’ll be a case of This is how things are going to be rather than Look fellas, I hope all this is all right with you, but I’d like to...
It’s not as if these things are rocket surgery. Ten Tests where we need to take twenty wickets and score more runs than the opposition. There are procedures that need to be put in place, of course, practice routines, training drills, all the nuts and bolts stuff, but that’s not rocket surgery either.
What really needs to be cemented in place is a team mind set, and that’s where the rules, and a bit of arrogance comes in. This is the Australian team. Traditionally, we’re hard bastards in baggy green caps. Second best is not acceptable. That sort of mentality.
Something like an Ashes tour, where one presumes the transport arrangements involve a team vehicle that’ll shuttle back and forth between accommodation and venue, as well as between venues, would seem to be the perfect opportunity to build a competitive unit. Leave the wives, girlfriends and families on the periphery while the job gets done and no fraternising with the enemy.
Remember, in an era when anything you do can appear on Twitter within minutes of it happening, team protocols are there for a reason, and must be adhered to. If that involves appointing a committee who’ll sort out a social itinerary that’s loaded with interesting activities in reasonably secure locations, go for it. You can have a reasonably good time, bond as a unit and, hopefully get that urn back sooner rather than later.
And if there’s anyone on board the bus who isn’t prepared to commit themselves and follow the team protocols, send them straight home.