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"Maybe the punishment didn't fit the crime": Mickey's 'Homeworkgate' regret

Cricket

Former Australian coach Mickey Arthur has made a frank admission about the ‘homeworkgate’ saga that led in part to his sacking, conceding the punishment might have been too harsh.

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Arthur, who will coach Pakistan in the three-Test series that starts tomorrow in Brisbane, was axed by Cricket Australia on the eve of the 2013 Ashes.

The South African’s dismissal came shortly after handing down suspensions to Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja and James Pattinson – who were all stood down from a Test in Mohali.

The quartet failed to provide Arthur with written feedback on how the team could improve.

“I would do a couple of things differently, without a doubt I would,” Arthur told Fox Sports.

“The constant thing that always plagues and plagues me is around Homeworkgate. Would I have handled that differently? I guess I might have.

“Probably not suspend four guys … maybe the punishment didn’t fit the crime.”

However, Arthur reiterated his explanation that a “significant stand” had to be made.

“Discipline was not where it should be,” he said.

“We wanted to try and create an environment of excellence.”

Arthur shared a laugh with his successor Darren Lehmann, captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner yesterday at the Gabba.

He also hoped to catch up with Michael Clarke, noting his relationship was “soured” by legal proceedings Arthur launched against Cricket Australia.

Leaked documents at the time detailed allegations Clarke had called Shane Watson a “cancer”.

“I reached out to Michael because I felt an obligation to Michael,” Arthur recalled.

“Pup and I had a really good relationship. Our relationship was really solid. Obviously, around the time when I went through the legal issue, there was that stuff that came out which soured our relationship.

“But we’ve spoken through that.”

THE BEST OF FOES: Michael Clarke and Shane Watson during training for the 2015 World Cup final. Photo: Rick Rycroft / AP

Former teammates Michael Clarke and Shane Watson. Photo: Rick Rycroft / AP

Josh Hazlewood noted this week the team had “a different culture now and … things have improved a lot” since Lehmann’s appointment.

Khawaja, meanwhile, bears no ill will towards Arthur, saying yesterday it was “water under the bridge”.

“It was so long ago … I let go pretty quickly,” Khawaja said.

“I’m not spiteful or revengeful.

“Mickey is a very good guy. He was very nice … I’m not the kind of guy who holds onto grudges. If I get into a fight or get angry with someone, I’m over it like that.

“I’m sure if I see Mickey, there would be no issues.”

Khawaja’s mistaken identity

Fresh from becoming the first Australian to post a day-night Test ton, Khawaja will be a key player in the Brisbane clash.

As well as pitting him against his former coach, it also sees him clash with the nation he called home before shifting from Islamabad to Sydney at age four.

“My parents are Australian but they’re also very Pakistani … when I talk to my parents, I still at times try to speak Urdu here and there. It’s not as good as them but they can understand what’s going on,” Khawaja said on Tuesday.

“I was born there, so it’s a very close part of me.

“I have glimpses of memories of our old place and what not, but nothing too circumstantial.

“They were there for 30 years but now they just want me to do well and want Australia to win every single time, no matter who we’re playing. There is no allegiance conflict at all.”

The classy left-hander, who recently hit career-best form with a magnificent century that delivered Australia victory over South Africa in Adelaide, is now among the nation’s most high-profile Muslims.

But not everyone in Brisbane, the city Khawaja has called home since 2012, knows him well. The Queensland captain had an awkward case of mistaken identity when he encountered a locked door on Tuesday at the Gabba.

“I was just waiting and the Queensland Cricket lady came down,” Khawaja said.

“She was like ‘oh, you need the locker rooms open?’ I went ‘yes please’ and she started walking to the Pakistani change room.”

I’m not a big one in believing in form and I know how quickly things can change

Khawaja has reached three figures in his past three matches – twice for the Bulls and once for Australia. That includes two pink-ball tons.

“I’m not a big one in believing in form and I know how quickly things can change,” he said.

“It’ll be a nice challenge to (face Pakistan’s attack) in conditions that are suited and friendly to fast bowling.”

Warner “had no idea” who Renshaw was

David Warner is the oldest member of Australia’s Test side but the vice-captain says the onus is on him to adapt to – and learn from – Matt Renshaw.

Warner’s new opening partnership with 20-year-old Renshaw, who only recently moved out of home in Brisbane, had a false start in Adelaide.

Warner was unable to open the batting in Australia’s first innings, having been off the field late on day one.

Their first stand lasted 64 runs before Warner was run out following a mix-up between the wickets, and the NSW opener is keen to improve on that mark in Brisbane.

Warner is still learning about Renshaw, admitting he had “no idea who” the Middlesbrough-born batsman was prior to his call-up.

“I have to learn to adapt to the way he plays and he has to adapt to the way that I play,” Warner told FIVEaa.

“The way he plays… it’s a method that works for him.

“The beauty … is if I get on top of an attack, he might get the loose ones and he can start playing a few shots.

“Him leaving the ball on good areas may actually relay a message to me that there’s a bit of movement in the wicket and I have to start respecting it a little bit more and watch it closely.”

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Renshaw in action in Adelaide. Photo: Michael Errey / InDaily

Warner, fresh from scoring a record-breaking mountain of runs in the recent ODI series, vowed to adopt a more conservative approach in Tests.

“I haven’t been as patient… balls I’ve been playing at, I probably shouldn’t be,” he said.

“There’s probably been a bit more movement in the wickets as well … I should be trying to rein it in a little bit.”

Renshaw is also trying to find the right mix between patience and aggression.

Khawaja cautioned it was wrong to label Renshaw a nurdler.

“It wouldn’t be surprised if he turns into a really good limited-overs player, T20 player. When I was young, I was sort of pigeonholed in the same category around his age,” Khawaja said of his Queensland teammate.

“There’s no reason why a batsman of his quality won’t develop.

“He’s very assured of himself – in a good way, not in a cocky way at all. He knows his gameplan, he knows what he needs to do.”

-AAP

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