Australia coach Mickey Arthur has called on his team to show some “mongrel” against arch-rivals England as they bid for a consolation victory in a lopsided one-day series.
The tourists — the world’s top-ranked side in 50-over cricket — head into Tuesday’s finale at Old Trafford having already lost the five-match campaign at 3-0 down after a trio of crushing defeats was interrupted only by Wednesday’s total washout at Edgbaston.
Australia’s latest loss saw them suffer an eight-wicket thrashing at the Riverside here on Saturday when, albeit in bowler-friendly conditions, they were restricted to a modest 200 for nine, having collapsed to 96 for six.
“I want to see a bit of ‘mongrel’ come Tuesday, I really do,” said Arthur. “I think we’ve been a bit submissive this whole series,” the South African added. “We’ve been allowed to be bullied, and we’re better than that.”
For Arthur it is the comprehensive manner of defeats by 15 runs, six wickets and now eight wickets that has been tough to take.
“I’m disappointed and really shocked. We haven’t played anywhere near our real potential and that could be to the fact that we haven’t been allowed to play to our potential or haven’t grasped the moments when they’ve been there.
“We haven’t found a way to put England under any sort of pressure and that’s really disappointing and infuriating me a bit,” he said. “We’ve been outplayed. We’re better than that. That’s the real disappointing thing for me.”
Arthur insisted his remarks to reporters were no more severe than what he’d already told his players, who so far this series have been bested with both bat and ball by England.
“I’ve just had a real good meeting with the team, a tough meeting, a hard meeting,” Arthur said. “I spoke some home truths, I think. I want to see how they respond on Tuesday. I’m looking to see how they stand up, how they respond.”
Australia have struggled to get enough runs on the board or make significant inroads with the ball into an England line-up where they believe the lower-order batting is vulnerable.
“I’m searching, I’m looking for those answers, I’m looking for that mongrel, looking for that guy who’s going to stand up and change the game,” Arthur said.
“We’re looking for the guy who’s going to take responsibility and say ‘I’m the champ, I want to change momentum in a game.’ We seem to be a little bit submissive, we haven’t stood up and we haven’t grasped an opportunity like England have .We’ve spoken at length that if we can get them three down we’re into [Craig] Kieswetter, then we’re into [Tim] Bresnan,” he continued.
“Well, we’ve seen Kieswetter bat once at Lord’s and we haven’t seen Bresnan bat yet. And yet our batters, who are world-class, seem to be getting out and put under the pump. Again, hats off to England, they’re outstanding — but they’re only doing the basics well. Cricket’s about basics — we’ve got to do the basics better, we’ve got to be nailing those basics,” he added.
However, Arthur insisted: “I’m not having a character assassination of our team at all. I’m looking for answers that are going to strengthen our team and lift our team again. It’s certainly not a character assassination of them.
“I know those guys are busting a gut to go out and do well. For us as management it’s about finding that balance between their talent and performance but somehow they are just not transforming that.
“That is what is perplexing me a little bit.”