AAP: Australia coach Mickey Arthur said on Monday he felt gutted after telling four players including vice-captain Shane Watson they had been stood down for selection for Thursday’s third Test.
Test quick James Pattinson and squad members Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson have also had a line put through their names for failing to do their homework by making a presentation to the coach on how the team could improve following last week’s heavy loss in the second Test in Hyderabad.
Australia were also thrashed in the first Test and Arthur set a deadline of Saturday night to receive the feedback.
Arthur said some players had come to his hotel room and made in-person presentations.
Others had left notes under his door and some had sent emails or SMS phone messages.
“Shane was going to talk to me today about it, as was James Pattinson apparently,” Arthur said.
“Mitchell and Usman forgot about it.”
Arthur said the purpose of the exercise had been to make the players have a look in the mirror and examine how the team could improve.
“We have spoken to the four guys individually and we presented it to the group,” Arthur said.
“They are absolutely gutted, as I was having to deliver a message like that. “We were all gutted by it, but this is the expectation if you want to play cricket for Australia.
“Those four players unfortunately did not meet my requirements so those four are not available for selection for this Test match.
“Although this incident might seem very small in isolation this is a line-in-the-sand moment for us as a unit in our quest to become the best in the world.
“This has been the toughest decision that myself, manager Gavin Dovey and captain Michael Clarke have ever had to make. “But the ramifications for that within out teams structure and the message that it sends to all involved in Australian cricket is that we are pretty serious about where we want to take this team.” Watson (77 runs at 19.25) has been in poor form anyway.
But as one of only four squad members with previous Test experience in India, the 31-year-old’s presence is vital to the side’s hopes of drawing the series and retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
“I wish it wasn’t the vice-captain. I wish it wasn’t Shane Watson,” Arthur said. “But this was a moment where we had to make a statement irrespective of who the players were.” Arthur said he hadn’t thought about whether Watson’s position as vice-captain would need to be reassessed.
The coach and selector denied Australia had given up on trying to square the series two-all by dropping Watson and Pattinson, who is the team’s leading wicket-taker in the series with eight.
“Not at all. We’re certainly not sacrificing any series,” Arthur said. A team spokesman said Watson was heading home to Australia for the birth of his first child.
Asked if Watson would be available for the fourth Test in Delhi on March 22, the spokesman added: “At this stage that is yet to be determined.”