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‘Treat players like adults, not schoolkids’

Calcutta: Former England captain Geoffrey Boycott has criticised Australian coach Mickey Arthur for treating the players like “schoolchildren” and said he finds the idea of setting the cricketers written tasks as ”childlike”.

Australia have sacked four players, including vice-captain Shane Watson, for the third Test against India after the cricketers failed to prepare a three-point presentation on how they could improve the team’s performance following their defeats in Chennai and Hyderabad.

Boycott said Arthur could have spoken to the players in private rather than behaving like a “teacher”.

“It’s like being schoolchildren and giving them something to do and if they don’t do it, then just slapping them. If you feel that there is an area where they should improve, surely it is up to the coaching staff and the major coach himself, Arthur, to talk to them in private,” he said.

“I always thought that’s what a coach’s job was. I don’t like the coach-manager — you’re like a teacher,” Boycott told ESPN Cricinfo.

The 72-year-old former opener said as a coach, he would have tried to help the players with a friendly chat rather than asking them to prepare presentations.

“I would never play around with their technique or anything, but I would talk to them, I would watch them, and I would give them a bit of advice as to where they might improve. I would think that was my job,” he said.

“And if I needed to talk to them about the mental attitude to batting and bowling, that again is my job through my experience and my maturity. But I don’t think I should be setting them paper exams to ask them to write down what they think”, he said.

“I think it’s man to man, where the coach sits and talks privately to the players, saying, ‘listen, I’m here to help you. What do you think? This is what I think.’ In the end, they have to perform, they have to make runs, batting and bowling, to stay in the team or help the team. That is really the crux. I don’t like this business of setting them tasks which are very childlike,” Boycott said.

Boycott felt as a captain it was important to be sensible and professional and said if he were in Clarke’s shoes, he would have handled the issue differently.

“Clarke has to run his own team, that’s what captains do when they’re in charge. But it wouldn’t be the way I would run it, put it that way. I’ve played under a lot of good captains. Michael Vaughan was a good captain, Brian Close, Mike Brearley, Ray Illingworth — the great thing they all had in common was to treat people like adults,” Boycott said.

“In the end, you’ve just got to be sensible and professional. Some guys like to go out and switch off by having a few beers ... Everybody is different. As long as you get some sleep, and you’re ready to play ... I’m sorry, anything else is very childish and it wouldn’t be the way I would do it,” he added.

Boycott said if the decision was taken because of a series of such incidents as mentioned by Clarke then those issues should have been sorted out earlier.