Former Australia coach Mickey Arthur (L) famously axed four players for not doing assigned homework. Picture: Getty
Former Australia coach Mickey Arthur (L) famously axed four players for not doing assigned homework. Picture: Getty

Apathetic Aussies show how little they care

HEY, Mickey Arthur. What was that you were saying about homework?

Hidden beneath the seemingly unified push to make Australia a better-behaved cricket nation lay the curious fact that when researchers were diving deep for answers to the malaise, most players were not interested - or could not be bothered - in talking about it.

Of around 150 current players sent the ethics review survey only 48 completed it.

It's not the end of the world but it's poor. So poor, in fact, the lack of response is almost as relevant as the replies because it radiates a sense of indifference to the project.

That survey, awkward as some players found it, was one of the most significant pieces of paperwork those players would receive from Cricket Australia, who deserved the decent whack that came their way.

While the results were being unveiled in Melbourne, somewhere in Dubai, Arthur would have been enjoying his breakfast bacon and eggs as if they were caviar and champers after the Pakistan team he coached finished a 3-0 T20 series win over Australia after their 1-0 victory in the Tests.

Arthur, who has done an exceptional job with a team forced to play its games abroad, was brutally sacked as Australian coach a few months after dropping four players in India for not doing team homework.

He reckoned the team was getting slack and not doing the little things that tie a side together.

His view cost him his job yet, five years later, as he celebrated in Dubai, there were signs of the old loose threads unravelling and some people who sanctioned his sacking now feel he had a point.

This time it won't cost any player anything but it does raise the question of how deeply committed the players are to the push to spring clean Australia's sullied cricketing image.

If players reckon there was an unfair win at all costs attitude coming from above in Cricket Australia, that's fine. If they thought winning bonuses were complete crap, that's most understandable.

But if you are not prepared to take a few minutes out of your day - actually your extended off-season - to vent your frustration over any of these, you wonder how deeply you really feel about them.

The survey has worked against the chances of David Warner and Steve Smith getting an early recall from their year bans despite a looming players' union protest.

Cricket Australia can point to the fact that most players who did respond to the survey agreed with the bans and if the others were so outraged about it, why didn't they say so?

Administrators can pound the pulpit as much as they like but the success of any renewed push for the spirit of cricket rests squarely on the shoulders of the players.

Passion tends to be at its strongest at the start of projects.

If player commitment is patchy now, how will it be when the battle starts?

The most significant part of the review is Australia is now a prisoner of its own improved standards.

The bar has been lifted. The standard has been set.

Now, can anybody bat?



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