Mohali: Australian coach Mickey Arthur dropped a bombshell on Monday when he announced that the four players would not be considered for selection for the third Test.
"That's a line-in-the-sand moment. We have given these guys absolute clarity," Arthur said while making the announcement at a press conference in Mohali.
The stunning turn of events leaves Australia with just 13 players to choose from for the third Test. "After Hyderabad the whole team was really hurting, we were discussing ways of getting back into the series," Arthur said.
"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," he added.
Arthur said the dropped players failed to meet the deadline set for making the presentation and it was important to maintain team discipline by punishing them.
"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," Arthur said.
"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 think the best thing that these three days off have given me is reflection time, to reflect on how well have I been going in my job, like I expect everyone else to do when you're 2-0 down in the series.
"Myself and Pup (Clarke) came to the conclusion that we have been so focused on winning cricket games that maybe some people have been cutting corners. Perhaps there have been some soft options taken. We decided that we needed to really get that in line," he said.
Arthur said it was a tough decision to drop Watson but he had to apply the axe irrespective of how big the player was.
"I have never ever doubted, not for one moment, the drive of Shane Watson. Not for one moment. Shane Watson prepares well. He's very professional and he goes about his business in a very professional way. I've not ever been in a position to doubt Shane Watson the person or Shane Watson the cricketer.
"It's extremely tough to sit here and make that decision. I wish it wasn't the vice-captain, I wish it wasn't Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson, they are leaders within the team and are very professional with the way they go about their business. But this was a moment where we had to make a statement irrespective of who the players were," Arthur said.
"Usman Khawaja is different. This will be the catalyst I think for Usman Khawaja to realise we're pretty serious in the Australian cricket team." This is perhaps the first time in the history of the game that players have been dropped for not making a presentation and comes as a massive blow to the team, which is likely to be without wicket-keeper Matthew Wade due to injury.
Brad Haddin is being flown in as cover for Wade, who sprained his right ankle on Saturday while playing basketball.
Pattinson, who has been their in-form bowler, would be missed badly as the track in Mohali is expected to assist the seamers.
Khawaja was expected to replace Phil Hughes in the team but that has now been ruled out, providing the out-of-form number three batsman another opportunity to prove his worth.
The fourth player to be dropped, Mitchell Johnson, has not played a single match yet.
Available players: Michael Clarke (capt), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Xavier Doherty, Nathan Lyon, Brad Haddin (wk).
Story first published on: Monday, 11 March 2013 20:11 IST