Australia confirm Lehmann to replace Arthur
JESSE HOGAN AND CHRIS BARRETT
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said inconsistent results and a failure to oversee discipline standards led to Mickey Arthur being axed as Australian coach and Darren Lehmann taking over.
Sutherland confirmedthat former Australian batsman Lehmann would be the national coach through to June 2015.
"The timing is far from ideal but we didn't feel we could sit back and hope matters would change without addressing issues critical to a high performing team culture," Sutherland said of Arthur's sacking a little more than two weeks out from the first Ashes test.
"It obviously isn't the type of change we want to make (16 days) out from the Ashes commencing but we believe a change is needed.
Sutherland and high performance manager Pat Howard sacked Arthur in Bristol on Sunday night with 20 months still to run on his contract.
He was appointed in November 2011 and since that time Australia has struggled with inconsistent performances and numerous off-field issues. Australia has won 10 of 19 Tests, 18 of 39 ODIs and 7 of 16 T20s with Arthur at the helm.
Sutherland said those failures were at the heart of the decision.
"This has been a difficult decision to make but one that we feel is necessary," he said.
"We are looking to establish a high performing Australian cricket team that is consistent over a period of time. To achieve that, we need all the parts moving in the right direction. Recent on-field results have been too inconsistent.
"Discipline, consistency of behaviour and accountability for performance are all key ingredients that need to improve. And we see that the head coach is ultimately responsible for that."
Arthur faced the press after Sutherland and Howard.
He accepted CA's decision with grace, saying he knew the responsibilities the position entailed.
"All I can say is I have given the job 100 per cent commitment," he said.
"If it wasn't good enough, so be it."
Sutherland admitted that Lehmann was "not a silver bullet" to fix everything for the Australian side but described him as a "force for change".
"I think Darren is the sort of leader and coach that brings people around him," Sutherland said.
With captain Michael Clarke stepping down as a selector on Monday, Sutherland said Lehmann and Rodney Marsh would make the major decisions on the selection panel, with its head John Inverarity also to be consulted when necessary.
Arthur's fate as coach was effectively sealed when batsman David Warner punched his English counterpart Joe Root at a Birmingham bar a fortnight ago.
Warner was ultimately suspended until the first Test, starting on July 10 at Trent Bridge, by CA's code of behaviour commissioner, Justice Gordon Lewis.
The Warner incident was the tipping point for Sutherland and the CA board, who were already edgy at Arthur's perceived soft stance on player discipline.
The board's anxiousness followed the 4-0 Test series loss in India last May which featured the axing of four players, including vice-captain Shane Watson, for discipline breaches.
The four were suspended for failing to complete a homework-styled exercise, with Arthur saying it was the latest in a string of smaller discipline problems.
Should bouncers be banned from cricket?