Mohali: Australia's preparations for the third Test at Mohali starting Thursday have been thrown into disarray with news that four leading players have been omitted from the team owing to disciplinary reasons. Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja have been dropped from the squad for the Mohali Test after failing to meet a deadline of Saturday night to provide feedback to coach Mickey Arthur on how Australia can improve after being hammered in the first two Tests.
According to reports from the touring Australian media contingent, Arthur had on Tuesday requested the players to present three ways in which they and the entire team could improve. Barring the four aforementioned players, all of Australia's squad replied via email or SMS or on letters submitted to Arthur under his hotel door. This left a frustrated Arthur, who set with skipper Michael Clarke and team manager Gavin Dovey, to term it a "line-in-the-sand moment".
"After Hyderabad the whole team was really hurting, we were discussing ways of getting back into the series," Arthur was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. "We were particularly aware of where we were as a team and how we were going to get back. I asked the players at the end of the game to give me an individual presentation. I wanted three points from each of them technically, mentally and team as to how we were going to get back over the next couple of games, how we were going to get ourselves back into the series.
"Unfortunately four players didn't comply with that. We pride ourselves on attitude. We have given the players a huge amount of latitude to get culture and attitude right. We believe that those behaviours with what we want to do with this team, how we want to take this team to be the best in the world, teams that are the best in the world have best attitudes and best behaviour patterns and a good, hard, ruthless culture. I believe those four players unfortunately did not meet my requirements so those four are not available for selection for this Test match.
Watson and Pattinson featured in the Chennai and Hyderabad Tests, while Khawaja looked set to replace the struggling Phillip Hughes in Australia's batting order for the third Test. Watson has struggled so far, scratching together just 77 runs in four innings. Pattinson was Australia's best bowler in Chennai with a five-wicket haul, but managed just two wickets in the second Test.
This news comes as a major blow for the tourists, who trail India 2-0 and need to win the third and fourth Tests to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Australia are already in personnel trouble with Brad Haddin called up as back-up for wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, who injured himself playing basketball over the weekend.