After Australia were routed in the first two Tests against India, the entire cricket fraternity was busy suggesting ideas that could help them make a comeback in Mohali. Some said that Watson should open with Warner while others felt that Usman Khawaja should replace Phillip Hughes. Peter Siddle too has struggled to find his momentum and it looked quite probable that the selectors might include Mithchell Johnson. Australia needed to strengthen their pace attack, as their best bowler in the series – James Pattinson needed support at the other end. However, even in their wildest thoughts, no one would have thought that Australia will not be playing any of these four players in the Mohali Test.
As they say, nothing is certain in cricket except its uncertainty. While experts and cricket enthusiasts were busy making these predictions, Australian coach Mickey Arthur too wanted to know what went so terribly wrong. As Australian cricket is witnessing its transition phase, Arthur wanted the boys to pass through another test. So he asked them to suggest three points each which could enhance the team’s and their individual performances. Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja didn’t find this exercise worthy enough which led to their ousting from the third Test.
I wonder what made Arthur come up with such an ‘axe-traordinary’ idea. "I wanted three things - a lot of guys came to my room and did a presentation, a few guys have written fantastic emails, some guys put notes under my door, it was their preference. As a leadership group, Michael Clarke, Gavin Dovey and myself made these decisions together. We as leaders feel we need to project a united front and we need to be ruthless if we want to achieve our objectives," Arthur clarified when asked about his so-called idea. We all know that the Australian management is very serious when it comes to rules and regulations, but is axing all these players a solution that could help them make a comeback in the series?
Shane Watson has been a wonderful ambassador for them and to drop him when he is available is a big call. He is low on confidence in the series and all he needed was a little backing from his team. Arthur’s decision would have only rubbed salt in his wounds. If he is selected for the fourth Test, we can imagine what kind of a mindset he will hit the field with.
While Mitchell Johnson could have turned around things for Australia, the absence of Pattinson and Shane Watson is something which will hurt them the most. They haven’t put a foot right so far in the series and this shocking decision has only added to their woes. The Mohali Test will begin on March 14 but the question is whether Arthur has already made it 3-0? And in case if that happens, will Australia play the fourth Test without a coach?