Arthur shocked by Australia failings
Australia coach Mickey Arthur questioned his world number one team’s ambition and character after their NatWest Series defeat against England.
An exasperated Arthur wants answers, with a much-improved performance in the dead rubber still to come at Old Trafford - where Australia must try to avoid a 4-0 trouncing on Tuesday.
He led a team meeting of frank exchanges and “home truths” after Australia - still top of the International Cricket Council one-day international rankings - had once again been outplayed by England on the way to an eight-wicket defeat at the Emirates Durham ICG.
“I’m disappointed and really shocked,” said the South African. “We haven’t played anywhere near our real potential.
“We haven’t found a way to put England under any sort of pressure, and that’s really disappointing and infuriating me a bit.
“We’ve been outplayed. We’re better than that - that’s the really disappointing thing for me.”
Arthur, whose team will be back to take on England next summer in the Investec Ashes Series - as well as the rest of the world in the 50-over ICC Champions Trophy - insists he cannot fault their preparation, only their uninspired performances once they take the field.
“The players are putting in - there’s absolutely no issue with that. We train and we train incredibly well,” he said.
“I thought our preparation leading up to the first ODI was as good as I’ve ever seen a team prepare. We were ready. We were 100% ready to go.
“The disappointing thing is not seeing anybody transform training potential into something substantial in the middle.”
After three successive defeats, it appears Australia are close to crisis time.
“I’ve had a real good meeting with the team, a tough meeting, a hard meeting,” said Arthur.
“We spoke some home truths, I think. I want to see how they respond on Tuesday. I’m looking to see how they stand up, how they respond to that.
“I’ve said it all through our home summer - there’s just something missing (with the 50-over team). I’m not sure what it is. Is it character, is it ambition? I’m not sure - there’s just something clearly missing.
“I’ve challenged the players, I’ll always be honest and I’ll say it how it is. I’m really looking for a response on Tuesday.”
Arthur is hoping at least one of Michael Clarke’s team manages to raise his game sufficiently to stop England winning their 10th consecutive ODI.
“I want to see a bit of mongrel come Tuesday, I really do. I think we’ve been a bit submissive this whole series,” he said.
“We’ve allowed [ourselves] to be bullied, and we’re better than that. I’m so disappointed, very disappointed.
“I’m talking mental toughness, I’m talking presence. I don’t think we’ve had a presence this series.
“I’m talking absolute presence when batters are out there, like the presence our Test team had against India.
“When we walked on that field there was body language. We were strong, we were decisive - there was that presence. But we haven’t had that presence in our one-day side.
“It’s something we’ve been fiddling with, trying to get, and we just don’t seem to have the answers at the moment. I’m searching, I’m looking for those answers.
“I’m looking for that guy who’s going to stand up and change the game.
“I want to change momentum in a game, and we seem to be a little bit submissive - we haven’t stood up and we haven’t grasped an opportunity like England have.”
Arthur retains faith in his team, and admiration for their methods and talents, but is scratching his head as to why they are not being turned into runs and wickets.
“It’s certainly not a character assassination of our team. I know those guys are bursting a gut to go out and do well," he said.
“For us as management, it’s about finding that balance between their talent and performance - somehow they are just not transforming that. That is what is perplexing me a little bit.
“Again, hats off to England, they’re outstanding - but they’re only doing the basics well.”