CHANDIGARH — Australia’s tour of India took an extraordinary turn today with their vice-captain Shane Watson leaving for home hours after being dropped from the team for the third Test against India along with three other key players for ignoring a team management order.
In a day of dramatic development, Watson checked out of the team hotel while the rest of the squad trained and left for Sydney, raising speculation of a revolt within the team following the unprecedented sacking of the four players.
The team management had earlier announced that Watson, pacemen James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and batsman Usman Khwaja were dropped for failing to make a written presentation on how to improve their personal as well as the team’s performance after the heavy defeat in the second Test in Hyderabad.
The Australian team management sought to downplay Watson’s unscheduled departure for Sydney. “He has not left in a huff, his wife is expecting. And that is why he has left for Australia to be by her side. The two things (returning to Australia and being dropped from the team) should not be linked,” Australian team’s media manager Matt Cenin said.
The team management had earlier not made any announcement that Watson would not be available for the entire series keeping in mind his wife’s pregnancy. Watson’s sudden departure has also raised speculation about his relationship with captain Michael Clarke amid indication that the skipper was not happy with the attitude of his deputy.
Watson later said he was contemplating his future in the game.
“Any time you’re suspended for a Test match unless you do something unbelievably wrong, and obviously everyone knows what those rules are . . . I think it is very harsh. At this point in time I’m at a stage where I’m sort of weighing up my future and what I want to do with my cricket in general, to be honest. I do love playing, there is no doubt about that, but at this point in time I’m going to spend the next few weeks with my family and just weigh up my options of just exactly which direction I want to go.
“There are lot more important things in life – I certainly do love playing cricket and that passion is still there and I feel like I’m in the prime years of my cricket career. From that perspective I still feel like I’ve got a lot to give. But from a holistic perspective I’ve got to sit down with my family and decide which directions they are.”
Arthur’s decision has been widely criticised.
Former Test player Mark Waugh said it was ridiculous to dump four players for not filling in some forms while former Aussie captain Allan Border described the punishment for the players as “over the top” and said they were being treated like schoolboys.
Bur captain Michael Clarke suggested today that the dropping of the players was as a result of a culmination of circumstances.
“I want the public and the media to understand, don’t get me wrong, it’s not just about one incident. Firstly on this tour our performances have been unacceptable and there has been some stuff off the field [that has been unacceptable] for the standards an Australian cricket team needs to present itself to achieve what we are trying to achieve … I know it is a tough day, a really tough day and it’s a tough decision, but at the end of the day if people are not hitting those standards there are going to be consequences. (Cricinfo)