Australia's tour of India went frombad to worse today after four players, including vice-captain Shane Watson, were shockingly axed from the team for breach of discipline.
Watson, pacers James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson and young batsman Usman Khwaja have been dropped for the third Test after failing to make presentations in a team meeting as instructed by the management.
"This is a line in the sand," coach Mickey Arthur said while making the announcement in Mohali. The Aussies will now have just 13 players to choose from with star pacer Pattinson missing from the equation despite the pace-friendly conditions.
The quartet, along with the other team members, had been told to make presentations after the heavy losses in the first two Tests. The four will therefore not play in the third Test starting on Thursday.
Team manager Gavin Dovey was present with Arthur when the stunning annoucement was made.
"Players were asked to outline three points on what they bring to the team by email or in person, and given five days to complete the task," Dovey said.
Arthur said the move is meant to maintain discipline in the team.
"Unfortunately four players didn't comply with that. We pride ourselves on attitude. We have given the players a huge amount of latitude to get culture and attitude right," Arthur said.
"We believe that those behaviours with what we want to do with this team, how we want to take this team to be the best in the world, teams that are the best in the world have best attitudes and best behaviour patterns and a good, hard, ruthless culture.
"I believe those four players unfortunately did not meet my requirements so those four are not available for selection for this Test match," he added.
Arthur said to become world-beaters, the Aussies will have to fall in line when it comes to discipline.
"We have given this team a huge amount of time to buy in with what we want to do for the Australian cricket team. We have given a vision to these guys that is spelt out.
"We've given an expectation that is spelt out and although this incident might seem very small in isolation this is a line-in-the-sand moment for us as a unit in our quest to become the best in the world," he said.
Arthur said even skipper Michael Clarke feels that it was time to crack the whip in what has been a thoroughly disappointing series for the team from Down Under.
""I think the best thing that these three days off have given me is reflection time, to reflect on how well have I been going in my job, like I expect everyone else to do when you're 2-0 down in the series.
"Myself and Pup (Clarke) came to the conclusion that we have been so focused on winning cricket games that maybe some people have been cutting corners. Perhaps there have been some soft options taken. We decided that we needed to really get that in line," he said.
This is perhaps the first time in the history of the game that players have been dropped for not making a presentation and comes as a massive blow to the team, which is likely to be without wicket-keeper Matthew Wade due to injury.
Brad Haddin is being flown in as cover for Wade, who sprained his right ankle on Saturday while playing basketball.
Pattinson, who has been their in-form bowler, would be missed badly as the track in Mohali is expected to assist the seamers.
Khawaja was expected to replace Phil Hughes in the team but that has now been ruled out, providing the out-of-form number three batsman another opportunity to prove his worth.
The fourth player to be dropped, Mitchell Johnson, has not played a single match yet.
Available players: Michael Clarke (capt), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Xavier Doherty, Nathan Lyon, Brad Haddin (wk).