The Australian team management's shocking suspension of four key players on disciplinary grounds on Tuesday got the backing of their bosses even as captain Michael Clarke put up a bold face, saying that the dumping of the quartet will not lead to a backlash.
Even as the cricket fraternity continued to react with shock and dismay at the unprecedented sacking, Cricket Australia put its weight behind the team management which is struggling to put together a team for the third Test against India beginning Thursday with just 13 players to choose from.
CA officials held a teleconference with the team management to take a briefing following Monday's events which saw a miffed vice-captain Shane Watson leaving for home hours after his sacking, raising speculation of a revolt within the squad.
"We had a discussion so we could be fully updated on the issues surrounding this event and allow board members to ask questions of the management. The board is completely supportive of the actions taken by team management," CA Chairman Wally Edwards said in a statement.
Watson and three of his colleagues -- pacemen James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson, and batsman Usman Khawaja -- were axed from the team for the third Test for ignoring a team management order.
The four players were dropped for failing to make a presentation on how to improve their personal as well as the team's performance after the innings and 135 runs defeat in the second Test in South Indian city Hyderabad.
Clarke continued to talk tough and said disciplinary breaches could not be tolerated, while maintaining that he had the respect of the players who have been suspended.
"I don't think it will have any impact on my friendship with the four guys because I know I've got the respect of those guys and they know how much I respect them. That's probably why I feel comfortable fronting players on these issues", he said.
"I think it would be easy to walk away and let things slide. But they know how much I love playing for Australia like they do," Clarke said.
"They know how much I want this team to have success and achieve what I think we can achieve. And you know what? They want the same. There's only one way you get there. It takes the whole team pushing in the same direction. This is not about the individual player. The whole team sits on this level. These are our standards. If you're not hitting it, there's going to be consequences."
Clarke said making the presentation was not a big deal and the players should have provided the feedbacks.
"It wasn't a big ask. You let the team down, you let the head coach down. That's unacceptable," he said.
The captain said unavailability of four players will be a good opportunity for others to prove their worth.
"It has huge impact on the team for the third Test match.
But it's why you pick a squad. It gives somebody else an opportunity. And that's the biggest risk in this game. You give somebody else an opportunity and you might never get another chance," he said.
Clarke said he has no doubt about Watson's abilities and he was sure that he will comeback to the side as his deputy.
"A lot of people will ask about Shane Watson and the vice-captaincy. I absolutely believe he can bounce back from this and be the Australian vice-captain again.
"Watto is one of the best players in the world when he is at the top of his game. We didn't consider the names of the individuals when arriving at this decision but made a call in the best interests of the team," he said.
Cricket Australia general manager Pat Howard felt that there were loopholes in country's cricket system which is the reason for not being able to get the best out of Watson.
"I am not going to get drawn into that any more but there are failings in the system in that we are not getting the best out of Shane -- that's our fault," Howard was quoted as saying by the Australian media.
The Michael Clarke-Mickey Arthur Bombshell
First Published: March 12, 2013, 2:58 pm