AUSTRALIA will go into the third cricket Test against India without four key players who were sensationally dumped on Monday.
Vice-captain Shane Watson, bowlers James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson plus young batsmen Usman Khawaja were all told they will not be considered for selection in Thursday’s Test following their failure to complete a team task requested by Australian coach Mickey Arthur.
A defiant Arthur said the decision was a “line in the sand” move to promote the right team attitude.
Players had been asked to give Arthur an individual presentation explaining how they and the team could improve their performances over the next two tests following Australia’s humiliating 2-0 defeat in Hyderabad.
The four players missed the Saturday deadline and now have been ditched by Captain Michael Clarke and Arthur for the Test in Mohali.
“We have given the players a huge amount of latitude to get attitude and culture right,” Arthur said in a press conference.
“We believe that those behaviours were not consistent with what we want to do with this team.”
It is a bold move by the Australian team management in an Ashes year, giving selectors just 13 players to pick from for the starting 11. The decision leaves the struggling Aussies without the experience of Watson or the firepower of arguably their best bowler of the tour so far in Pattinson.
The tourists will also now have to stick with out of form batsmen Phil Hughes, who was likely to be replaced by Khawaja for the number three position.
Arthur said it was one of the toughest decisions he has had to make, but it was about creating the right team culture.
“The teams that are the best in the world have the best attitude, best behaviour patterns and a good hard ruthless culture.”
However the move drew instant condemnation from some quarters, criticised as a ‘harsh measure’ which could have immeasurable ramifications.
Former Test batsman Mark Waugh said he was stunned.
“I just want to know what would have happened if eight of the guys hadn’t filled in the form, we wouldn’t have a team for the game.
“I’ve never heard of this sort of thing before at top level in any sport.
“When you are losing there are niggling things there but they’re grown men, it’s not school boy stuff. It’s not under sixes, this is Test cricket… there would have been a better way.”
“Adults we are, not schoolboys!” blasted Bulls coach Darren Lehmann on Twitter.
While Dean Jones tweeted, “I feel it is deeper than it appears. Aust are in trouble!!”
Australia are set to take on India in the third Test in Mohali on Thursday, looking to recover from devastating defeats in the first two games.