Calcutta: For Mickey Arthur, the “line-in-the-sand” moment arrived on Monday morning, but well-placed sources of The Telegraph are surprised that he acted so late.
In their view, coach Arthur and manager Gavin Dovey should have disciplined some of the players, not necessarily the quartet (vice-captain Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja) stood down for the third Test, much earlier.
Also, surely not in such an extreme manner.
One learns that there had actually been “numerous instances” of players either being late for team meetings or late to catch the team bus or skipping sessions with physio Alex Kountouris.
That, too, right through this season.
It's because of this backdrop, perhaps, that there's been no support for the quartet in the media back home.
Being late for team meetings, in particular, is a strict no-no and the manager is expected to take the player(s) to task.
This Reporter recalls at least a couple of instances where even somebody of Sachin Tendulkar’s stature quickly ended a one-on-one to be in the team room a good five-six minutes before the meeting.
That’s showing respect to the coach, the team and, above all, the game.
Obviously, Dovey has been found wanting. In any case, being Steve Bernard’s successor, he’s had big shoes to fill.
Only Arthur can answer why he didn’t put his foot down months ago, but when he (belatedly) raised the issue with Michael Clarke, he found the captain on the same wavelength.
Both felt that enough was enough and a firm message needed to be conveyed, more so after two poor performances in succession.
Little surprise, then, that Cricket Australia (CA)’s board of directors have strongly supported the action initiated by Arthur. It’s inconceivable that such a big decision would have been taken without chairman Wally Edwards’ knowledge.
A CA media release, put out on Tuesday afternoon, quoted Edwards as saying: “We had a discussion, so we could be fully updated on the issues surrounding this event... The Board is completely supportive of the action taken by the team management.”
The directors had a teleconference with the team management. It was an opportunity to ask whatever questions they wanted to after a day of stunning developments.
As things stand, Arthur’s hands have been strengthened.
Meanwhile, one understands that Khawaja had been told that he’d be playing in the third Test and, so, being stood down has left him as “devastated” as Watson.
“Watson didn’t take it well and went home... Khawaja has been as devastated, finding it hard to cope with the disciplinary move,” one of the well-placed sources revealed.
The Islamabad-born Khawaja was to have taken Phil Hughes’ place. The last of his six Tests was back in December 2011.
Johnson and Pattinson have taken the one-Test punishment in their stride, publicly at least. In fact, the former has gone to the extent of telling the media that he “deserved” it.
Politically very correct at this point in time.