The firing of Mickey Arthur was hailed yesterday as the wake-up call Australia so badly needed to fight for the Ashes against England.
Darren Lehmann was appointed the new coach of Australia on Monday ahead of the first Test in Nottingham, England, on July 10 following a series of embarrassing on and off-field incidents.
“This should bring a sharp focus to the players who enter this series as rank outsiders,” Daily Telegraph chief cricket writer Malcolm Conn said. “The sacking of Mickey Arthur as coach is the wake-up call Australia desperately need a fortnight from the Ashes.”
Arthur himself was treated well by the Australian media, with the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) noting he “took it on the chin” and the Telegraph calling him a good coach.
“His failing was that he was too nice a bloke,” the Sydney daily said. “This is the fault of the players. They are either not good enough, not working hard enough or both.”
The Sydney Morning Herald said the South African, Australia’s first foreign coach, had “paid a heavy price for Australia’s recent inept performances,” noting they had not won a game in more than four months.
The Australian treated Lehmann’s appointment as “a good decision,” but added “not even England ever sacked its coach two weeks before an Ashes series. We are now what England was, and they’re laughing.”
Former Test fast bowler and now commentator Geoff Lawson said Arthur’s sacking came as no surprise.
“It doesn’t come as a surprise given the India homework affair and the Champions Trophy,” Lawson told ABC.
Vice captain Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja were all disciplined during the tour of India this year after failing to submit feedback that was requested by team management.
“It seems Arthur had lost the respect of the players. In another sport he would have got sacked a long time ago,” Lawson said.
Captain Michael Clarke’s decision to stand down as a selector was also greeted as a positive.
“It will free Clarke of an unnecessary burden, allowing him to focus on his batting and leadership,” Conn wrote. “As Australia’s only world-class player he must succeed at both if Australia are to have any hope of regaining the Ashes.”
However, serious questions remain, the Herald said, notably “the parlous state of Australia’s batting stocks.”
“If this is not the worst Australian squad ever to set foot in England then it is certainly the most disorganized,” it said.