SYDNEY, (Reuters) – Mickey Arthur has been sacked as coach of Australia just two weeks ahead of the start of the Ashes series against England after a series of poor results and a string of disciplinary issues in the squad, local media reported on Monday.
Cricket Australia said they would be holding a news conference in Bristol, England, later on Monday, where chief executive James Sutherland would “discuss the coaching structure of the Australian team”.
Media reports indicated Sutherland would present Darren Lehmann, the Queensland coach who is in England with the Australia A team, as Arthur’s successor.
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper and other media outlets reported that Arthur had been informed over the weekend that he was being let go despite his contract running until March, 2015.
The South African – the first non-Australian coach to run the side – took over in 2011 in the wake of a review into the humiliating 3-1 Ashes defeat, the first home series loss to England in nearly a quarter of a century.
The 45-year-old had previously coached South Africa to their first test series victory in Australia before resigning after falling out with Cricket South Africa officials.
Under his watch, some initially encouraging results have given way to the debacle of this year’s 4-0 test series defeat in India and the failure to reach the knockout stages of the Champions Trophy.
It may be, however, that Arthur has paid the price as much for the off-field problems as the on-field calamities.
In what became known as “homework-gate”, Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja were dropped from the third test in India for failing to provide their thoughts on how Australia could improve in an e-mail.
David Warner’s Twitter attack on journalists did nothing to counter the impression that discipline was an issue in the squad and it was compounded when the opener hit England batsman Joe Root in a bar after a Champions Trophy defeat.
Sutherland was furious about the latter incident, which resulted in Warner being stood down for the remainder of the Champions Trophy.
The highly-regarded Lehmann, better known in cricket circles as “Boof”, was a left-handed batsman who played 27 tests and 117 one-day internationals before moving into coaching.
Australia play a four-day tour match against Somerset on Wednesday with the first Ashes test starting at Trent Bridge on July 10.