Adelaide: Australia cricket coach Mickey Arthur has hit back at critics of his rotational selection policy for fast bowlers, saying those who question the system are either "naive" or "stubborn." Arthur was particularly incensed at claims that the rotation, which aims to reduce injuries among the fast bowlers, means Australian teams are being chosen by sports scientists.
The South African-born coach admitted the Australian selectors took the advice of scientists in weighing player workload but said claims they were picking teams was "so far off the mark it's frightening." Criticism of the rotational policy grew loudest when Arthur made the decision to omit the in-form Mitchell Starc from Australia's lineup for its Boxing Day test against Sri Lanka in Melbourne.
Starc publicly expressed his dismay at being left out of the match, which is the traditional highlight of Australian cricket's domestic season. On Sunday, Starc was forced to miss Australia's second one-day international against Sri Lanka at Adelaide because of reported soreness in a calf muscle.
Arthur revealed later that Starc is suffering from bone spurs in one ankle, was unable to bowl without pain and would eventually need an operation. He said by spreading the workload among Australia's fast bowlers, the selectors hoped to manage Starc through the team's upcoming series in India and England. Australia is already forced to contend with injuries to a number of fast bowlers, among them James Pattinson and Pat Cummins.
Former Australia fast bowler Brett Lee has been among the harshest critics of player rotation, saying constant changes to the Australian lineup suggested the selectors could not identify their best bowling attack. Arthur rejected that criticism in an interview on Sunday.
"We are very clear on who the best attack is and who the best team is," he said. "I have been annoyed and frustrated by some of the articles that are going around because common sense prevails when we pick teams. Every time we pick a team we are giving guys opportunities and we pick a team we think is the best side possible to do the job and win.
"So it's either very naive or just stubborn that people don't understand what we're doing." Arthur said the input of sports scientists was important in determining how each player's workload was managed. "They give us information and then it's up to us to make the final decision," he said. "(Captain) Michael Clarke, myself and the selector on duty make the decision based on information that we are given.
"Mitchell Starc plays in all three forms of the game and he had an ankle impingement, he's got spurs that are going to require an operation at some stage, we're hoping that will be a year down the line but at some stage it's going to give in. "There was no point in us playing him in a Boxing Day test match and risk losing him for a one-day series and a tour of India. That would have been plain stupid. We make these decisions with a lot of thought of how and when we're going to use that quick bowler.
"I really wanted to put that on record because I'm sick and tired of talking about it and I'm certainly sick and tired of seeing some of the articles that are going around in the medi