The drastic decision to suspend four crucial players — Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson, and Usman Khawaja has left the cricketing world at odds. Even as Cricket Australia firmly defends its disciplinary action, many greats consider it to be too severe.
Should failing to complete a task assigned by the coach/team management, meant to improve the team’s flagging fortunes, provoke such suspension? For the record, the players weren’t asked to make a detailed power-point presentation or write an essay.
Three bullet points would’ve sufficed, to be written down on a piece of paper, sent through SMS or emailed. The question though is not about the simplicity or complexity of the assignment, but about player participation in a team task.
Apparently, this wasn’t the first time that such a thing happened. Skipper Michael Clarke points out that this was actually the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
Team standards, work ethics and culture had been abused in the past too. Serial offence demands severity, lest it becomes a habit.
Not about winning
Going by their current predicament, Australia are 0-2 down, while a whitewash also seems to be on the cards. At a time when they needed to make the most their resources, they’ve thinned them down to bare minimum.
They now have only 13 members to choose their XI from. Clearly, winning or losing isn't as important to Australia board as is team culture.
Questioning the sense behind the judgment, former cricketers believe that players should be critiqued only on the basis of their on-field performances and not on their ability to think about ways to improve the team.
Playing professional ‘team’ sport though, at the highest level, in fact at all levels, isn’t just about turning up for the game, scoring runs or taking wickets.
There’s a lot of effort that goes into converting a bunch of talented individuals into a cohesive unit, which works together towards the same goal.
There are times when one doesn’t agree with the coach or captain, but you’ve got to adhere to their thought process.
Team meetings, group discussions and brainstorming sessions are a part of a team’s set-up and during these sessions, you nail down the team ethos and culture.
If you don’t live up to the standards set by the team, you not only let the team down but also show disrespect to the abiding members. If you find the standards too lofty to comply with, you should not be in that team.
This suspension might lead to a little unrest for the time being, but it will set the right precedent for everyone who’s representing or wants to represent Australia in the future.
The writer is a former India batsman