Arthur suing saga won't disrupt Australian side

BEN HORNE
Last updated 08:48 18/07/2013
Mickey Arthur
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DISMISSED: Mickey Arthur's claim of unfair dismissal won't affect the Australian team.

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If Australia collapse at Lord's to go 2-0 down in the Ashes series, it will have little to do with Mickey Arthur's explosive claims about team disunity.

Of bigger concern will be backing up from the heartache of Trent Bridge on a four-day turnaround and learning from Australia's 2009 defeat at Lord's, which ended an unbeaten run at the home of cricket dating back to 1934.

Indications are that players are more likely to be galvanised than affected by Arthur's allegations against Cricket Australia, that centre heavily on claims of a dysfunctional relationship between Michael Clarke and Shane Watson.

Talk of tension between the pair is nothing teammates haven't heard before, and in many respects it's old news. Darren Lehmann has seen to that.

Under his watch is a new Australian team. Still far from flawless, both on the field and off, but determined to pull in the same direction to achieve success.

"I don't think the team has been in as good a place for a long, long time," said Clarke.

To help Australia regain a positive mindset following their agonising 14-run defeat in the first Test, Lehmann has called in Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne to be in and around the group.

The quartet of all-time greats virtually considered Lord's a home game throughout their illustrious Ashes careers - Australia having won 14, drawn 14 and lost only 6 matches at the historic venue dating back to 1884.

But Australia's most recent memory is a bad one, and the warning signs are there that a repeat could occur starting on Thursday.

Clarke says he's confident Australia's bowling attack is better for the '09 experience, when a wayward first session with the ball from Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle virtually cost them the match - as England raced to 0-126 at lunch on day one.

"I'm very confident we won't get a repeat of it because I know the stock I've got ... I know mentally they're ready to go," Clarke said.

"We know how disciplined we have to be with our execution. "Just the experience of sometimes not getting the result you're after and using the momentum and positives that come out of the first Test to take into the second is something that we've certainly spoken about.

"I think a lot of the guys, both batters and bowlers, would have got a lot of nerves out of their systems in the first Test match."

It appears Mitchell Starc could become an indirect victim of Johnson's poor performance at Lord's in '09 - with the left-arm quick in danger of being replaced by line-and-length bowlers Ryan Harris or Jackson Bird.

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If Australia go down 2-0 and haven't utilised Harris, it could be considered a waste given his brilliant Test record and ability to swing the ball. It's thought he'd be an ideal candidate to handle the infamous slope at Lord's.

By the same token, Bird's nagging consistency makes him the most similar to McGrath - who took 26 wickets at 11.50 to be arguably the most effective bowler Lord's has ever seen. Ed Cowan is in a selection battle with Usman Khawaja for the No.3 spot.

Likely Australia: Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Ed Cowan, Michael Clarke (capt), Steve Smith, Phil Hughes, Brad Haddin, Ashton Agar, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird. Likely England: Alastair Cook (capt), Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steve Finn, James Anderson.

- AAP

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