Shane Watson emerges villain over 'homework-gate' fiasco
After 24 hours of the most withering abuse directed at Michael Clarke and Australia's management for excluding Shane Watson and three other cricketers from the test team, the tide turned on Wednesday with a flurry of support for the "line in the sand".
Australian cricket was plunged into crisis on Tuesday after Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja were banished from the team for the third test in India for failing to provide their thoughts on how Australia could improve.
Former test greats lined up to pour incredulous scorn on coach Arthur and captain Michael Clarke for taking such strong action for an offence likened by many commentators to a schoolboy forgetting to do their homework.
Watson, the most senior of the players and the team's vice captain, arrived back in Australia to be with his pregnant wife late on Tuesday and dubbed the punishment "extremely severe".
The 31-year-old sometime allrounder's assertion that he still wanted to play test cricket for his country was reassuring with back-to-back Ashes series coming at the end of year.
After the recent retirements of former skipper Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, the prospect of losing a third top batsman, albeit one as injury-prone as Watson, for such a trivial offence was startling to many.
Word from team management on the sub-continent that the punishment was not isolated but the culmination of a build-up of minor disciplinary issues helped start the turning of the tide.
Arthur, in his blog on the Cricket Australia website, said his team had given a fair amount of "laxity and flexibility" to the players because of their youth and inexperience.
"This decision was about sending a strong message that it is about time all players had some accountability for their actions," he wrote.
"Being late for a meeting, high skinfolds, wearing the wrong attire, back-chat or giving attitude are just some examples of these behavioural issues that have been addressed discretely but continue to happen.
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