Image courtesy of: Daily Telegraph Australia
Australia have widely been regarded as the underdogs heading into this year’s Ashes series
Australia national selector John Buchanan has admitted that England hold the edge going into the first leg of the back-to-back Ashes series later on this year since the national team has been deeply scarred by the numerous controversies they have been involved in lately.
Australia opening batsman David Warner is currently being investigated by Cricket Australia for breaching rule 6 of Cricket Australia’s Code of Behaviour after lashing out against two News Limited journalists, Robert Craddock and Malcolm Conn, on Twitter over an article which attacked the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Craddock did not reply to Warner’s tweets, but Conn engaged in a prolonged verbal argument with Warner.
In March, Australia axed four players during their four-Test series against India after they failed to complete an assignment set by coach Mickey Arthur.
Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson were axed after they failed to come up with three ideas on how they and the team could improve on their performance against India.
Arthur and captain Michael Clarke later revealed that the four players were dropped as they had started to develop bad habits since the start of the tour, including not being punctual to team meetings, talking back in a disrespectful manner and wearing the wrong uniforms.
Buchanan is unsure whether Clarke and Arthur’s plan to axe the four players was a “masterstroke”, but he remains convinced about the fact that Australia have literally handed England the edge going into the Ashes series in July.
“At this point it could be a masterstroke or it could be the reverse and I don’t think it will be anywhere in between,” Buchanan told The Telegraph. “There is a very clear message there. Whether that is the right message or whether it has been delivered or arrived at correctly will show in terms of whether it brings about a change in the way this Australian group gel together or signify an end to what has been going on before. It will continue to ferment and there is only one loser if it goes wrong and it will be the coach.
“I definitely think it has provided some advantage to England but time will tell. There is a lot going on aside from this one issue. You have a new coach, new selectors, people leaving and arriving and a range of players coming in and out of different teams. What happened [in India] is a product of all that.
“I don’t think there will be sufficient time for them to bed down before they get to England but it could be a masterstroke. This is about more than 10 [Ashes] Tests. This is about establishing a new team culture and fabric, a new way of being part of an Australia team that will be there for as long as Clarke and those he hands over to last. The last culture was started by Stephen Waugh when he took over as captain and lasted until Ricky Ponting finished as captain.”
Buchanan believes there is a growing trend of selfishness in the side as players seem to be concerned about being dropped if they fail to perform to the standards that is expected of them.
Since the start of the 2012-2013 season, Australia have used 36 different players across all three formats and Buchanan feels that this is the key reason as to why the team culture is diminishing at an alarming rate.
“You cannot develop a team culture with so many people coming and going all the time irrespective of the format,” Buchanan said. “It must create a lot of uncertainty in the group and with uncertainty comes less trust, less honesty and less compliance. Players look after themselves more.
“My view is the quality of Australian players is there to still be at the top of the tree. It just may mean that when you haven’t got greats in the side you might not crush teams as quickly as before. With the talent they have, they should still get results but to me there is stuff going on that is not quite right and they are all searching for what that is. In the meantime that is creating uncertainty around those who are playing and those not being selected.”