Suspend Australia’s culture

“Drink within your boundaries,” said a pre-recorded Michael Clarke on the Edgbaston big screen a few moments before the match against New Zealand. It’s possible he said it before the game on Saturday as well. Clarke is currently in London, getting intensive treatment on his back. Had he been in Birmingham, he may have been powerless to stop Warner from getting in trouble.

Despite what David Gower said, Australia does have culture, and at the moment that culture is toxic.

It’s easy to overreact to a man punching an opponent a few hours after a game. Or even to take that one problem, and extrapolate it so that the system and all players are to blame. Young people today, eh. Wasn’t like this in my day. These kids are running wild.

But Warner’s punch isn’t a one off for him, and many young Aussie players are doing things that are either blatantly stupid, or amazingly unprofessional way too often over the last couple of years. It’s as if Australian cricket has turned into a giant crèche. Some of these things can be explained by Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting retiring, but it’s deeper than that, and was around even before they left.

Brad Haddin’s recall to the side, despite his replacement Matthew Wade averaging pretty much the same, shows that CA knows there is a problem. But bringing back one father figure isn’t enough, this problem runs deep.

In this team is Mitchell Marsh. Marsh arrived at the cricket academy out of shape, he was almost sent home straight away. Eventually he was kicked out for being unfit to train after a big night out. That was July last year. A few months later, in October, Marsh was left out of a Champions League match for Perth Scorchers because his 21st birthday celebrations meant he wasn’t in a fit state to play. His brother Shaun Marsh was also dropped from that game for the same incident.

Their former Western Australian team-mate, Luke Pomersbach, was in trouble during IPL 2012 when he was detained by police for alleged assault. The case was eventually settled out of court. Pomersbach has more than enough batting talent to slip into any of the three Australian sides.

Allrounder Daniel Christian was suspended after damaging not one, or even two, but three separate changerooms during the last Sheffield Shield season. Christian was fined and warned during the first two incidents, but still committed the third act.

Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja were suspended from one Test in India after they didn’t provide any plans on how they or the team could improve. Watson, the then vice-captain, left the tour straight after the incident, for the birth of his child. That followed on from the World Twenty20, where a player was heard undermining the captain George Bailey to opposition players.

Young Queensland batsman Chris Lynn was fined for attacking the alleged victim in an assault case on Twitter. Saying “She should serve 2 months in jail for her make up! #booyah”. Lynn later apologised and noted, “Violence against women is not acceptable and I’m sorry that my words could been seen to condone that.” Even Shane Warne was running around the Big Bash League, throwing balls at people and making a fool of himself.

Now there is Warner. Before last weekend, Warner’s off-field history was fairly minor. Some bad tweeting with Brett Geeves a few years back, rumours of a personal curfew, perhaps some skinfold issues and being sent home from the academy for untidiness are hardly crimes. And neither is arguing with some press on Twitter. Sure, as a contracted player he was stupid to swear, but I am sure many players and journalists have sworn at each other in bars without us ever having to know about it.

A punishment will not do. A punishment won’t stop the cause. These players have been warned, fined and suspended; they are still making mistakes, still being unprofessional and still making it harder for Australia to win matches

This latest incident is not fully known. And in some ways it’s barely an incident. It took days to hit the press. Joe Root’s jaw is undamaged. Perhaps Warner had a few too many one quid vodka and redbulls at the wrong time of night and did something stupid. But he did try to punch an opposition player. It is far worse than breaking a door in a changeroom or failing to fill in some feedback reports.

In the past, events like this happened all the time. A player gets a bit stroppy when he goes out. A young player enjoys the good life a bit much. A player is involved in a late night incident that he should’ve steered clear of. A player bad mouths his captain.

In the 1970s, it would have been sorted out, and the player would now be doing after dinner speaking about the good old days. On Sky talking about his days, which were fairly recent, Jason Gillespie said, “If you stepped out of line off the field, you got into strife from the captain and the coach.”

So how has Australia regressed since then? How is that a potential captain of the Australian team, in CA’s own words, can take a swing at another player? I don’t expect James Sutherland to be standing in the bar making sure Warner doesn’t do anything stupid.

Culture is not an easy thing to fix. But this has happened under CA’s watch. It has happened after their Argus review. It is effecting their marketing off the field. It is effecting their performance on it. They must find the problems and fix them.

A punishment will not do. A punishment won’t stop the cause. These players have been warned, fined and suspended; they are still making mistakes, still being unprofessional and still making it harder for Australia to win matches.

Ex-cricketers were quick to abuse Pat Howard and Mickey Arthur for treating players like school kids. But they’re acting like them, consistently. It’s time for CA to look at the what is wrong with their current crop of cricketers. Or what is wrong with CA itself. This is a team that is losing on the field, and losing off of it.

This is 2013, if you want to be the best team in the world, you can’t afford to be anything but professional. South Africa is the best side in the world, they are the best behaved, led, managed and performed in the world. Their players don’t get caught in scandals, their team just works as hard as it can to win every match. They even managed to improve while their was a scandal around their board.

This Australian set up is not behaving, the leadership is not around, the management is not working and the team is not performing.

Point no. 4 on CA’s new strategy for cricket to become Australia’s leading sport is, “Provide world-class leadership and management and unify Australian Cricket”. This is the time when CA proves that is not some lip service that looks good on a plaque in their offices.

Clarke has not attended any of Australia’ games in this tournament. The only cricket he has attended was Shane Warne’s charity match on Sunday in the Cotwolds, a couple of hours from London. Warner was also there.

After Warner’s twitter moment, Clarke said to the press, “Davey has great potential to be a leader of the Australian cricket team, he’s a wonderful guy, he’s a wonderful player, I know he’s learnt from this”. That was only a few weeks back.

Whatever Warner did learn, it didn’t seem to help him early Sunday morning.


11 thoughts on “Suspend Australia’s culture

  1. Fred T says:

    Great piece. Just a pity you didn’t make a final decision on Warner. Rightly you say that fines and slaps on the wrist aren’t working any more. He has to be sent home doesn’t he??

  2. davender says:

    Hmm !!!! Expected more criticism from Jarrod of CSA management considering his recent outbursts against BCCI. However, you have instead risen up to the defence of James Sutherland , Pat howard and Micky Arthur. Pro establishment much !!!

    In my opinion David warner is going through a crisis of confidence and hence started overreacting to stuff. If he stood up for Hashim amla then it is a great story but considering the current anti warner stand in the media don’t expect it to be highlighted much.

    What is more interesting to me is the similar career trajectory paths of David warner and the player he was quite often compared with Virender sehwag. Both are similar confidence players and have a similar technique of see ball hit ball. Surprisingly, warner has a more tighter defence and hence should have a better record than Viru. However, except T20 Viru has a much better average than warner in both Test and ODI’s. Warner is becoming more and more like Viru Lite these days.

    Still he is young and can come back stronger. My thinking is that he has been on the road for quite some time now and missing home and friends and family. He flew some friends to the IPL as well. Such a long time on the road may have also affected his judgement. Certainly a point to be considered.

    Well a certain Ricky ponting took good beatings in bars and come out of it stronger. Hope the same with Warner.

    • Jrod says:

      Davender, CSA is Cricket South Africa, and did you even read it, I blamed them, questioned their leadership and suggested it had happened on their watch. I mean really, the words are all there, all you need to do is remove your head from your ass and read it all. Tim May has quit, it was in the news, you could have read that as well. If you wanna be a smart ass, at least follow the news a bit.

      Ben, there is one massive difference, if every team is unprofessional, then it doesn’t matter as much if Australia is. But Gary Kirsten and Andy Flower have moved cricket on, and Australia acting like they were before, and I’d argue far worse in the last 12 months, is no good. I’d also argue that the team of five, and ten years ago were in many ways far more professional than the current lot. I don’t think that in any previous generation, no matter how drunken, Watson would have been allowed to come out and make a play for his team mates position so often without having his head pulled in. But you’re right about the commitment to winning, that is a big issue. The two truly national teams, cricket and swimming, both acting like babies.

      • davender says:

        Ha,Ha ! Got another reply but not a pleasant one. Anyways,thanks !

        My beef was that the words against CA ( not CSA earlier typo sorry) were there but not personalized abuse like in the case of Sreenivasan. I would like to know why Pat Howard has constantly failed in his role of high performance manager and the teams performance is constantly going down. Why is Sutherland given such a long rope when all this is happening under his watch ? What role have Michey Arthur and specially Clarke played in the team culture erosion and in the early retirement of Hussey and the sidelining of Katich. And last but not the least May resigned just a week or so back while as you rightly pointed out these things have going on for quite some time. So even if he has resigned this culture was developed during his tenure and you could have taken him to the task for negligence of duty.

        Also as have earlier pointed out that I am a fan of yours and hence expect a more unbiased viewpoint from you that you should take on all the wrongs in the cricket world not just the BCCI.Not being a smartass in any way for that matter just my opinions.

  3. Ben says:

    Aussie sport has always been linked with drinking, scandals, bad decisions, occasional violence, text messages etc. The difference is in the past we were usually winning and the public didn’t care so much about the indecencies, or at least didn’t see them as systemic issues.

    I think the root of the problem (pun unintended) is a lack of hunger/drive/ambition, call it what you will. Warne, Ponting, Hewitt etc were never perfect role models either but you knew their #1 priority by a mile was winning, and it’s hard to see the same commitment in our current athletes – e.g. Olympic swimming team?

  4. davender says:

    Also would like to know the role and views of the highly esteemed Timmie may on this culture issue. So many aussie players as you have rightly pointed out are falling on the wrong path. May always had opinions on the roles of BCCI,BCB,SLC,Pk cricket boards and their domestic competitions. As a players representative his first and foremost role should have been to look after the players welfare and helped to avoid these sort of things to creep into the culture. But when he was sitting far away in the USA how could he have noticed all this stuff ?? Weird eh the player representative sitting in the USA not looking after his own union players but constantly criticizing the subcontinent cricket boards. Not much of a player representative in my opinion.

  5. Shaun Green says:

    Hi Jarrod,think you will find Chris Lynn agreed with the words you have attributed to him by retweeting a comment from a follower, rather than writing them himself. Semantics I know, But his original tweet was pretty ordinary before he took it down, so goes to your original article anyway. Cheers!

  6. Hewy says:

    ‘Marsh was left out of a Champions League match for Perth Scorchers because his 21st birthday celebrations meant he wasn’t in a fit state to play.’

    That’s not correct. His 21st was on the Friday. Marshes played on Sunday. They were suspended for a game on the Tuesday. Nothing to do with not being in a fit state to play on the day (ala Symonds/Flintoff). Not saying there weren’t issues (definitely not saying that!), just saying you probably shouldn’t suggest that someone turned up to the ground drunk/hungover when they didn’t.

    Not disagreeing with your sentiments – in fact, I’m in furious agreement.

    • Jrod says:

      Shaun and Hewy, you’re both right, although it doesn’t change the tone of my pieice, etc, etc, but I should have checked more carefully. And perhaps not written in while I was trying to write about the amtch I was at.

      Dav, blah.

  7. jogesh99 says:

    Aussies have always taken rt outside.One of your ex cricketers even got killed in a bar bash-up – unfortunate end, but not unexpected,. if the non-aussie grapevine is anything to go by.

    Warner sticking up for Amla, really!

    Warner actually does not belong, for I find that this lot of aussies are actually far better behaved than the last (Clarke as opposed to Waugh and Ponting), This breast-beating is only because you are losing. Ben nails it, if they start winning, it will be considered valid tactics and profound strategy (‘mental disintegration’ was it, till Ganguly disintegrated Waugh, then it was back yo good old Waughian Whinging).,

  8. At least the current lot of Aussie players haven’t so far been exposed hobnobbing with bookies – unlike the former Aussies and South Africans, and current Indians and Pakistanis. That’s a huge plus which should not be overlooked. Besides, Michael Clarke is a far more cultured captain than Ricky Ponting or Steve Waugh.

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