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Homeworkgate Roundup

The many perspectives on Homeworkgate make for interesting reading. The affair has polarised cricket fans, though all seem to agree on one thing. Australian cricket is in serious trouble. That such an extreme reaction was taken to the problem (and what exactly the problem was has been part of the controversy) shows that either there are deep issues in Australian cricket, or they are led by lunatics. Possibly both.

Early in the piece, cricketing opinion appeared to side with the axed players. The Teesra put together a witty infographic outlining how the actions of Arthur and Clarke will weaken Australia on this tour, especially in terms of the image of disunity it presents. King Cricket took their usual editorial position, that is to mock Australian cricket wherever possible. Why should the players have been axed for not doing a simple, and seemingly over-simplistic homework task? Were they children? (As King Cricket has later argued, yes, yes they are.) Haigh on a Cricket with Balls podcast described it as a ‘hit’ on Watson, an extreme reaction to a minor issue, used for the political ends of Captain Clarke and Coach Arthur.

There is clearly more to the story than a simple punishment for not doing homework, as it originally seemed. The excellent Ducking Beamers piece on the matter suggested the move was part of a wider play to install a better culture and work ethic within a young team. Without Hussey and Ponting to provide mentoring, Clarke has had to take on a role far beyond that of captain, suggests Brettig. That it was so harsh and authoritarian was out of necessity. Coverdale developed on this theme, saying that any failure to toe the line after two humiliating defeats on tour was simply unacceptable. And lastly, both Clarke and Arthur have suggested, sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly, this is not an isolated incident. The players who were dropped may not have always been the culprits, but the team as a whole had a lesson like this coming.

One player who has emerged out of this with little credibility is Shane Watson. As the Vice Captain of the team, for him to have not fully bought in to whatever strategies employed by management suggests he doesn’t know what a VC is meant to do. They are there to be the lieutenant of the captain, enforce his will and be a link between players and management. Coverdale outlines this point of view beautifully, getting the ball rolling on the idea that Watson is a player who doesn’t pull his weight. This view is shared on A Cricketing View, where the author dissects the stats of Watson and points out how deceptively poor they actually are. Watson has done himself no credit by publicly whinging about his treatment, and speculating on whether or not he will continue to play test cricket. Given he has been one of the worst performing test batsmen in recent years for Australia and that he no longer bowls, perhaps he needn’t bother. The icing on the cake must surely be this mocking poem, courtesy of that wrong’un at long on.

And after all that, there is still plenty more on this story to read. One of the more interesting pieces of analysis comes from Raf, who argues that Clarke struggles for dressing room authority due to outdated notions of leadership and stereotypical masculinity. Charlienbaker22 has described an Australian camp that is divided, it is hard to argue with that. Firdose Moonda talks about how out of character an action from Arthur this is, suggesting he is still trying to work out the best approach for the Australian dressing room. And Hugh Fatt-Barstad, well, I couldn’t quite decipher his thoughts on this issue but the piece is pretty funny.

My personal view is that one person has come out of this affair very well. James Pattinson was one of the players banned, and has also incidentally been one of the better Australian players on tour. He is a young man compared to Watson and Johnson, and is a certain selection for the 4th test. More to the point though, when axed, he immediately fronted up and apologised for not taking the exercise seriously. His skills as a bowler have endeared him to the Australian cricketing public, and his willingness to swallow his pride will do him a power of good with Clarke and the selectors. He will have learnt a lesson about jumping through hoops from this, but unlike Khawaja, he will get many more opportunities to play.

4 thoughts on “Homeworkgate Roundup

  1. I haven’t had time to write anything and I’m still not totally sure where I stand, apart from to say that I really agree with you about Pattinson. A really mature – and, I feel, genuinely contrite – response. He will go far.

  2. An interesting point raised by Michael Jeh, I think, was that the players wouldn’t dare to miss a sponsor’s function, or anything else that pays their bills. Watson might cash in at IPL for a few more years, if he gave up Australian/test cricket (the former might follow the latter as was seen with Hussey), but he would probably realise that his sizeable wages stemmed from being an “Australian cricketer” not from being “Shane Watson.” If he doesn’t want to buy into what Arthur/Clarke/Howard want an “Australian cricketer” to be, then someone else probably will, and (hopefully!) Watson will discover that very few players transcend their current position in the cricketing world.

    As a sidenote: Warne would be an obvious exception to that last sentence, but even he is finding out now that “Shane Warne the cricketer” is not immortal.

    • I suppose a comparison for the potential freelance career could be Chris Gayle. Like Watson he found himself out of favour with the administrators, and chose to go it alone. His performances in the various leagues were very strong, and he probably made a lot of money, but my understanding is that his popularity at home nosedived. He is now back in the WICB fold.
      In terms of a media profile and career after cricket, it is probably very important to perform for your home country, over and above performing for whatever corporate entity in whatever T20 league you play for. People don’t create legends out of players in teams they have no sentimental attachment to, that only comes from the sense that the player is playing for you. If Watson wants to be remembered, and I get the feeling that the idea of legacy is very important in Australian cricket, now is the time for him to get something great done. Otherwise he will be just another failed allrounder, another guy who wasn’t Keith Miller.

  3. Pingback: Watson falls on his sword, new Vice Captain needed | Lines on Grass

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