LONDON: After just a three-day break since England’s thrilling 14-run win over Australia in the first Test at Trent Bridge, the Ashes rivals will meet for the second of a five-match series at Lord’s today.
But the manner in which Australia competed in Nottingham suggests Ashes-holders England will not have everything go their way.
Just when Australia thought they had put the departure of sacked former coach Mickey Arthur behind them, however, the row over the South African’s controversial exit has been reignited in spectacular fashion.
Arthur, fired just 16 days before the Ashes, is taking legal action against Cricket Australia.
He is seeking up to Aus$4 million in compensation, claiming he was discriminated against because he was South African and ‘did not understand the Australian way’.
According to Australian broadcaster Channel Seven, the legal documents also reveal a major rift in the team between captain Michael Clarke and former vice-captain Shane Watson.
Watson has since been replaced as vice-captain by Brad Haddin but the all-rounder remains in the side as an opening batsman.
Wicket-keeper Haddin, whose second-innings 71 so nearly led Australia to victory in Nottingham, insisted that all was well with the side.
“The Australian dressing room is fine,” said Haddin. “I don’t know how many times we need to answer this.
“All the other stuff that we can talk about is white noise so it’s not something that has affected the side at all.”
Key among the things that cost Australia victory at Nottingham was their top-order batting.
Whether new coach Darren Lehmann can do much to improve it is doubtful, although struggling number three Ed Cowan could yet find himself dropped and replaced by Usman Khawaja.
Cook says team unity no easy task
England captain Alastair Cook said team spirit could never be taken for granted as Australia battled to present a united front after accusations of dressing room disharmony made by Arthur.
“I can only speak what happens in our dressing room and clearly last summer we had a bad experience,” said Cook.
“It shows how hard you’ve got to work at your team because a fully united team does help your cricket and we constantly have to work at it.”
Meanwhile, Clarke insisted his side were pulling in the same direction for today’s Test.
“The team is as galvanised as I can remember any Australian team,” said Clarke. “All the boys are in a really good place and we’re looking forward.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2013.
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