Clarke 620 image.Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland says the Australian team culture now is unrecognisable from the one he left in the wake of Mickey Arthur’s sacking, adding that he is “very comfortable with our legal position” in relation to the ex-coach.
Sutherland arrived in London in the eve of the second Test at Lord’s and said the explosive contents of Arthur’s court documents – including claims of infighting between Michael Clarke and Shane Watson and allegations of racial discrimination – were irrelevant to Australia’s Ashes campaign.
“I left the team three weeks ago. I had been back in Australia. I spent the morning catching up with everyone around the hotel and it’s a different place, it’s a different team and I’m really excited about the place this team is in,” Sutherland said.
“What I’ve seen in the last few days, I think, so what. It doesn’t mean anything right now.”
Arthur is suing Cricket Australia for up to $4 million after he was sacked in the aftermath of David Warner’s bar altercation with England batsman Joe Root.
Asked specifically about what had been done to patch up the relationship between Clarke and Watson, Sutherland said: “I would be aware of 10 per cent of what’s happening and I think it’s entirely inappropriate for me to speculate and talk about how adults work through the situation and get on with it.
“It’s not just … one or two relationships,” Sutherland added. “I’m talking about the whole team environment. We’ve got a team that’s galvanised and very, very focused and it showed in their performances at Nottingham and will hopefully continue to show for the rest of this series. You can see it in the way they’re moving around the hotel, you can see the way they’re walking onto the ground.”
Sutherland described the leaking of the documents as “an unfortunate distraction”, and refused to comment on details of the case “except that we are very comfortable with our legal position”. Nor would he comment on whether Cricket Australia had invoked a termination clause in Arthur’s contract, which had two years to run.
Previously, at a press conference in Bristol on the day Arthur was replaced by Darren Lehmann, Sutherland stated that Cricket Australia would meet its responsibilities to the sacked coach.
“Mickey’s got a contract that has details which are private but there’s terms about that we need to meet and we’ll certainly meet all our responsibilities to Mickey,” Sutherland said at the time.
A statement from Arthur and Harmers Workplace Lawyers this week confirmed proceedings had been filed in the Fair Work Commission “for being sacked and scapegoated. The grounds include racial discrimination”.
Arthur said he was shattered that the documents became public.
His biographer, Neil Manthorp, has since said the 45-year-old was always going to find it difficult to succeed in elite Australian sport. “I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone to hear that he was told he didn’t understand the Australian way,” Manthorp said.
Warner this week said he carried guilt about his role in Arthur’s ousting and was determined to be a better team man in the wake of his suspension, which ultimately cost him two Ashes Tests because of a lack of match practice.
“I saw the comments and that’s good. I had a couple of conversations and he’s said he’s remorseful,” said Sutherland, who at the time described Warner’s punch as despicable.
“I’ve said at the same time that it’s great to show remorse. What you have to do is back it up with actions and you don’t back it up with actions over a couple of weeks, you need to back it up with actions for a couple of years and that’s what we’re looking for from him.
“We’ll back him 100 per cent. He’s done the crime, he’s done his time. He’s got to fight his way back. We all want him to have success. We’ll all support him in whatever way we can to fight back but he’s got to back that remorse up by his actions and be true to what he said.”
Sutherland denied that the public airing of the dressing room dysfunction under Arthur was embarrassing for Cricket Australia and rejected the suggestion that CA could have avoided it by handling his sacking better.
‘‘It’s easy for you to say that, and it’s easy for you to say that and write that when I don’t have a line of defence,’’ he said. ‘‘All I ask is that you be a little bit sensitive to the fact that I can’t come back at you because of the position I’m in right now with legal proceedings pending.’’
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.