Former Test captain Ricky Ponting says Cricket Australia made a mistake in hiring Mickey Arthur as coach in 2011, claiming he didn't have the personality or style needed for the team. The South African, the first foreign-born coach of the Australian side, was sacked just 16 days before the start of the Ashes in England last year following a shambolic series loss to India. He was replaced by Darren Lehmann.
Lehmann, a former colleague of Ponting's, turned Australia's dressing room and demeanour around and went on to lead the Test team to a 5-0 whitewash of England in the Ashes series on home soil. "Mickey might be one of the great cricket coaches in the world, but he wasn't the guy, the personality, the coach that Australian cricket needed at that time," Ponting, who played under Arthur, said in a television interview to be aired on Saturday.
"We needed to bring the old, hard-nosed Aussie way back, and that certainly wasn't the way Mickey was trying to coach our team."
On the India tour, Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja were all disciplined by Arthur after failing to submit feedback requested by team management. They were axed, with Watson controversially sent home.
Ponting, who retired from international cricket in December 2012, also let rip at Cricket Australia over its handling of the so-called "Monkeygate" affair in 2008 that prematurely ended the Test career of flamboyant all-rounder Andrew Symonds. At the time, Symonds accused India offspinner Harbhajan Singh of racially abusing him during the fractious Sydney Test.
Harbhajan, himself no stranger to controversies, was banned for three matches by the International Cricket Council, the game's governing body. But his ban was overturned on appeal, leading to acrimony among players of both teams.
Ponting suggested the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India influenced the decision and said the lack of support for Symonds by Cricket Australia left him disillusioned. "I knew how powerful Indian cricket was -- everyone did," Ponting said.
"But at the same time, I know how powerful racism is in society as well.
"And I know as an Australian cricket captain, or a member of society in Australia, I have to do whatever I can to make sure that doesn't happen anywhere around me.
"I was told every day, every week by Cricket Australia that we had to stamp it out of the game.
"And (when) it did (happen), I had to make a stand against it.
"I followed the instructions to the letter. I did everything I was expected to do. I know there are a lot of administrators in Cricket Australia who can't say the same thing.
"And that was the start of the end for Andrew Symonds. His career spiralled downhill after that because I know for a fact that he didn't feel like he could trust the people he needed to trust."