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CA shuts down letter leak issue
- JOHN BUCHANAN CONTROVERSY
I don’t think our players needed that (communication) to produce their best... They do anyway...- Glenn McGrath
It (the note) surprised me a bit, but I share an excellent relationship with the coach and trust his judgement - Matthew Hayden

Hobart, Dec. 20: Treating the incident as something strictly between a coach and his players, Cricket Australia (CA) isn’t launching a probe into how John Buchanan’s rather scathing note to each player, after the fourth day in Adelaide, became public.

“For CA, the issue is closed... In any case, the communication was from the coach to his wards... Now, CA is just keen that everybody stays focussed on the third Test (in Melbourne from December 26),” informed spokesman Jonathan Rose, when asked if CA had a reaction.

That’s understandable as Australia trail 0-1 in the four-Test series and keeping the matter ‘alive’ is bound to cause more harm.

However, even if CA had no comment, senior pro Matthew Hayden responded this evening.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the world record-holder had this to say in Brisbane: “If there are areas that need to be sharpened, we will do so... Of course, it (the note) surprised me a bit, but I share an excellent relationship with the coach and trust his judgement.”

[Apparently, everybody expressed “surprise” at the coach’s outburst.]

Though Glenn McGrath wasn’t in Adelaide — in fact, he won’t have a role in this series on account of fitness — he is learnt to have reacted thus in Sydney: “I don’t think our players needed that (communication) to produce their best... They do anyway... John does come up with a different view every now and then and, while we may not necessarily agree, he is good for the team.”

Buchanan, by the way, had slammed his batsmen at a Media conference following stumps on Day IV. Specifically, he labelled their effort “immature,” not hiding his annoyance at Steve Waugh and Co. being dismissed for 196 in the second innings. That allowed Team India a target of 230, which was achieved in the final session on the fifth day.

The coach has a penchant for addressing notes to his players and, once in a while, an unintended party is the ‘beneficiary’. Indeed, in his first season (1999-2000) as coach, one such communication (which listed Australia’s strategy) even found its way into the New Zealand camp. The Hamilton hotel’s bell desk was responsible for that mix-up.

This time, there’s speculation that a wife/girl-friend is the source of this embarrassing leak. The notes had been slipped under the players’ doors.

The following are extracts from the hand-written communication:

“Boys, I’m so disappointed with the soulless, un-baggy green and immature performance today (December 15)... I question: What progress have we made as a team, as individuals' My feelings, while heightened by today’s inept display, have everything to do with you as persons first, family men (for most of you) second and players third.

“In the lead-up to this game and up till tonight, the issues that have dominated conversations, priorities and, by definition (I may well be correct), your attention/focus/clarity — deal-making; sponsors; Tug’s (Steve’s) farewell to Adelaide; helmets; what the Media is saying about you...

“About this time, four years ago in Hobart, Gilly (Adam Gilchrist) and JL (Justin Langer) responded to a no-win situation (against Pakistan) with courage, conviction and a toughness of character and concentration that is the pure fabric of the Australian cricket team...

“Today, the only similar response I saw was from Willo (the injured Brad Williams) — bowling, batting, throwing himself at mid-off! What has happened in the interim'”

Later, Buchanan spoke about “sacrifice of self, sacrifice of family, sacrifice of money-making ventures and, ultimately, the sacrifice to establish the best legacy for Australian cricket.”

Incidentally, the note included: “I, like all the support staff, respect who you are and what you have achieved... We are always in awe of what you do. We couldn’t wish for greater success to be bestowed on you as a team, as individual cricketers, as people and as family men.”

Buchanan signed off emotionally — “I love each and everyone of you but, like my own family, you thrill, you frustrate, you anger...” Actually, it’s a brilliant exit line.

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