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HindustanTimes Wed,24 Sep 2014
Caught at silly point
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 12, 2013
First Published: 22:31 IST(12/3/2013)
Last Updated: 22:33 IST(12/3/2013)

Sitting on the bench is not something that any self-respecting sportperson would fancy. They would like being sent off the playing arena for a penalty even less.

After being dropped for Australia's third test match against India, cricketers Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja have suffered the ultimate humiliation of not being allowed to play at all.

Despite their talent, they have been reminded that they are ultimately dispensable. Ever since the news of their omission has been made public, the Australian side has started to resemble a warring family, which even when invited to dinner, is not able to keep its domestic bickering off the table.

For his part, Australian coach Mickey Arthur has said that the dropping of the four players was the toughest decision he and captain Michael Clarke have ever had to make. The principle that influenced Arthur and Clarke was a lack of discipline rather than any obvious lack of form.

After two colossal defeats at the hands of a rejuvenated Indian team, all the Australian players were asked to prepare individual presentations, enumerating three points or plans that could help their team pick up the pieces. The four dropped players had failed to comply, and as Arthur has said himself, it was time to draw "a line in the sand."

While many have compared the Australian coach's actions to that of a school headmaster, his decision does seem to be more in line with corporate practices. One can perhaps argue that boardrooms and dressing rooms are interchangeable, but putting the onus on a presentation rather than a player's performance could prove counter-productive.

By dropping key players like Watson and Pattinson, Arthur and Clarke have compromised the strength of their side. Even if India were to beat the team again, the victory would need a caveat.

Coaches and players often tend to disagree. Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell might argue that such tension is the nature of the cricketing beast, but even if it's for the sake of discipline, such a move could result in an own goal.


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