Ashes 2013: Australia coach Mickey Arthur shocked by sacking

 

Mickey Arthur has told BBC Sport he is shocked to be sacked as Australia coach just 16 days before the start of the Ashes series against England.

The South African, 45, faced criticism following poor performances and disciplinary issues within the camp.

He has been replaced with immediate effect by Australia A coach Darren Lehmann.

"It was a shock, yes. It was a surprise, but that's the world we live in," Arthur told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I certainly don't want to start pointing fingers. The buck stops with me, and I was very clearly aware of that.

"I've got to set the standards. If things go wrong on your watch, you certainly pay the price. It's a tough pill to swallow but that's ultimately what I signed up for.

"I think we've got a wonderful young group of cricketers, who are still learning their trade and they will be very inconsistent for a while yet, but there are some very good young players.

"My relationship with the players was outstanding. I thought we were very close to getting it right.

"If the players perform I honestly don't see why they can't win the Ashes."

BBC Sport's Alison Mitchell spoke with Arthur, who succeeded Tim Nielsen in 2011, earlier on Monday. She added: "It came as a bit of a bolt from the blue.

Analysis

This is extraordinary. It seems crazy in cricket circles for this decision to be taken now with 16 days to go to the Ashes. But this has been waiting to happen. The disciplinary record of this Australian team is chaotic, going back to India, and the Champions Trophy has been a bit of a disaster with David Warner punching Joe Root and lots of other things besides.

If this happened to a struggling Premier League side, they would get rid of the coach and sort the dressing room out. It doesn't happen very often in cricket. If it is Darren Lehmann that replaces him, I would argue that makes Australia a stronger team. He is hugely respected all around the world, and has been coaching and in the IPL. He played for Yorkshire for 10 years, and it might just be what Australian cricket needs to galvanise them with what appears to be a pretty chaotic Ashes campaign about to start.

"Arthur was told just last night that he was out a of a job and he feels somewhat let down by Cricket Australia and a bit of a fall guy."

Lehmann played 27 Tests and 117 one-day internationals for Australia between 1996 and 2005.

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, said on Twitter  that his former Yorkshire team-mate Lehmann "will get them right".

The first Test against England starts on 10 July at Trent Bridge but Australia face two four-day warm-up matches beforehand.

The first is against Somerset, starting on Wednesday, 26 June and is followed by a game against Worcestershire from Tuesday, 2 July.

Arthur coached Australia to 10 wins and six defeats in 19 Test matches.

Mickey Arthur factfile

  • Born: 17 May, 1968 in Johannesburg
  • Major Teams: Griqualand West, Orange Free State, South Africa A
  • First-class batting record: 6,657 runs at 33.45
  • Teams Coached: Griquas, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Western Australia, Australia
  • Test record as Australia coach: W10 D3 L6

The latter stages of Arthur's tenure were beset by problems on and off the field.

In March 2013, four players - vice-captain Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja - were dropped for the third Test of the tour to India for failing to submit presentations on team strategy.

All-rounder Watson returned to captain the side for the fourth Test in place of the injured Michael Clarke, but defeat in Delhi saw Australia lose the series 4-0.

In May, opening batsman David Warner was fined £3,700 (AU $5,750) for posting abusive comments to journalists on his Twitter account.

Warner was later suspended until the first Ashes Test, and fined £7,000 (AU $11,500), for punching England's Joe Root in a bar following Australia's defeat to England in the Champions Trophy.

Another loss in the third and final group game against Sri Lanka ensured that Australia finished bottom of their group in the Champions Trophy.

Arthur hit 13 first-class centuries in a 15-year playing career with Griqualand West and Orange Free State, before moving into coaching following his retirement in 2001.

Australia Ashes Tour itinerary

10-14 July: 1st Test, Trent Bridge

18-22 July: 2nd Test, Lord's

1-5 August: 3rd Test, Old Trafford

9-13 August: 4th Test, Durham

21-25 August: 5th Test, The Oval

He was in charge of South Africa from 2005 to 2010, leading them to a first series victory in England for 43 years and a maiden series win in Australia.

Following a fall-out with the national board, Arthur quit the post in January 2010 and later coached Western Australia.

Despite Australia's recent on-field problems, Arthur recently claimed that his side had "the best bowling attack in the world", and would put England under pressure in the Ashes.

"England are a very good cricket side but I would like to see how they handle pressure for a sustained period of time," he told Test Match Special.

"I honestly believe we can win the Ashes - we have the best all-round bowling attack in world cricket."