Aussie coach stands by suspension decision

Australia coach Mickey Arthur has no regrets over the decision to suspend four players for disciplinary issues during the current tour to India

The Australia team management caused a major stir last week when they told vice-captain Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson they would not be considered for the third Test against India.

The quartet were punished for failing to make a presentation on how the side could improve, but Arthur later revealed there were other ongoing issues within the squad that needed addressing as well, including being late for meetings and back-chat.

Speaking ahead of the fourth Test against India, where Australia are attempting to avoid a 4-0 series whitewash, Arthur stood by the disciplinary action that was taken. And he also insisted he would do exactly the same if he had to do it all again.

He told Radio Five Live: "Absolutely. I've reflected long and hard because it's been a really tough 12 days, probably the toughest of my coaching career, but at the end of the day if you asked me if I believe in what I did and would I take that decision again, along with (captain) Michael (Clarke) and our team manager, then yes we would because we believe that that was exactly what was needed.

"What we've got is a team of very very inexperienced but very talented and good young players and our leadership style had to change towards them.

"We had to demand excellence.

"We could sit and wallow in mediocrity and stay third or fourth in the world, or we could take a real paradigm shift in everything we did, put team first, be ruthless on the one percenters, be ruthless on team etiquette and basics, and we could give ourselves the best possible opportunity of winning the Ashes and getting back to number one in the world.

"And I really believe in that and if we had to do it all over again I would certainly make the exactly same decision because I'm very passionate about where Australia cricket is at the minute."

Asked whether the disciplinary action worked, Arthur said: "I've been very very impressed by the reaction of the players over the last 12 days."

Following his suspension, Watson hinted he was considering his international future as he flew home to Australia to be at the birth of his child.

However, the 31-year-old this week returned to the national fold with a "burning ambition" to continue his Test career, and in a remarkable reversal of fortunes for the all-rounder he could now captain Australia in Delhi.

That is because Clarke is struggling with a back injury, although Australia will wait as long as possible before ruling him out.

If Clarke's problem proves to be something serious, it will be major concern for Australia with back-to-back Ashes series coming up against England later this year.

Arthur is optimistic the batsman will be able to lead Australia into battle against Alastair Cook's men though, saying: "We certainly hope so. We've got a really good medical staff who know exactly what Michael Clarke needs and hopefully they can deliver because we need Michael fit and ready to go, certainly for those 10 Test matches.

"But I'm pretty sure that we have all our bases covered. He'll be looked at once he gets back to Sydney to see if there's anything extra that we need to do to make sure he's ready to go for all the Test matches."

Regarding Watson's return, Arthur insists the all-rounder has the full respect of his team-mates despite recent events.

"There's no doubt how much respect Shane Watson commands within the group of players," he said.

"Shane's vision for where he wants to go personally and as a team man, and ours, are exactly the same. There's no issue.

"We need Shane Watson fit and playing well and if we've got a fit Shane Watson it gives us every opportunity of success, which is ultimately what we're looking for."

Looking to his own future, Arthur would like to earn a new contract with Australia once his current one runs out in two years' time but knows on-field success will determine that.

The South African said: "My contract runs until the 2015 World Cup and if we haven't had success during that period of time then I'm wholly accountable for that, and then people can do whatever they want.

"But that's the way I would like it. If we're going to have success I would like it to be done my way, and if I'm gonna fail I want to know I failed giving it my best shot."



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