Monday, 24 June 2013

Pretty Boy Or The Boof(head)?

Will Boof be a grinner?
Mickey Arthur is believed to have been sacked. James Sutherland and Pat Howard will hold a press conference in the next few hours to confirm the sacking. Darren Lehmann, having just finished a stint as the Australia A coach in England, is short priced favourite to take over the role.

If so, he'll have a tall order to overcome the damage of Arthur's reign in the short term. Not only will the players have to learn to trust again, they'll have to learn they are trusted. Instead of the boys they have been treated like, they'll have to stand up and be men under Lehmann's leadership. Watch the big role Brad Haddin plays now!

The intoxicating question is not how the players make the transition between coaches but rather how Michael Clarke does. The Aussie skipper, who started his tenure with great style and support for his players has become increasingly under the spell of his coach and many thought his unqualified support for Arthur during Homeworkgate won him no friends among his players, especially the senior men. Having cast his lot in with the former coach and his management approach, transition will be hardest for him, particularly in keeping credibility with his men.

What next?
Already becoming an outsider in his own team because of injury, what appears to be a very positive move for the team, may not be so for the Skipper. There is the added conundrum of how the new age Clarke will fit with the old school Lehmann. Its a clash I'd back Lehmann to win.

The constant demands of a back that will find it hard to stand on the field during four and five sessions of an English innings, won't be the only pain Clarke will be suffering during these twin Ashes series. The start of Clarke's response came as Sutherland and Howard were drafting their announcements when he released a statement announcing his resignation as a selector. If the determined structure of Australian cricket, post-Argus, is to continue, then does Clarke's resignation invite Cricket Australian to withdraw his commision as their captain? Perhaps Clarke's own days are numbered? 

Ian Chappell, amongst others, has objected to the view which prevailed among his former captains on the Argud review, although soon to be returning delegate Mark Taylor recanted last summer, now convinced the Aussie skipper was losing the trust of his players. It's hard to rally, them against us,  when you are one of them.

The news only underlines further the gulf between the oldest of cricket's foes. Despite losing in the final of the Champions Trophy, England have had an outstanding preparation for the real business of the summer and will Kevin Pietersen returning, full of strut and eager to smash the Australians, they are fit and firing. In contrast, Australia has been failing in just about every game since March. The bowling looks competitive but the batting looks more likely to collapse than Kim Hughes' bottom lip. The encouragement comes only from the Australia A performances, all be it again opposition which would be hardly likely to worry most grade sides.

The winter post midnights over the next few months now have a bit more spice.