Monday, 28 November 2011

Mickey Arthur. The Australians are taking the Mickey out of South Africa. Literally.

Like all good South Africans who are seeking a career beyond these shores, Mickey Arthur has come up with a foreign relative to back-up his new-found allegiance.
Yes, the 43-year-old apparently has sheepish Australian great-grandfather to go with the job as Australia’s first foreign national cricket coach.
So next time you see the former Proteas coach being interviewed after a squeaky Test victory, expect to hear him referring to sheep shearing, Kyle Minogue, Dame Edna Everage and sheilas rather than braai vleis, Sonia Herholdt, Evita Bezuidenhout and poppies.
It’s a sad truth that Kevin Pietersen and the gang of Anglo-South Africans – Matt Prior, Craig Kieswetter, Jade Dernbach and Jonathan Trott to naam maar a phew – feel the need to claim some sentimental allegiance rather than just the bright new passport.
But for Mickey to take that road comes as a bit of a shock. He goes into his new job with a series against neighbours New Zealand and I guess we can expect the instant switch of allegiances to go as far as reflecting the usual Aussie disdain for the Kiwis at The Gabba this week.

The first Test starts on December 1 and Arthur is already creating waves, picking four uncapped players including three sparkling new pacemen: Mitchell Starc, Ben Cutting and James Pattinson.

His first match in charge will be marked by the absence of FIVE of the men who recently toured South Africa: Shane Watson (hamstring), Mitchell Johnson (foot), Shaun Marsh (back) and Ryan Harris (pelvis) and Pat Cummins (heel).
Arthur took his new job at a fascinating juncture – just hours after Australia had wriggled out of a series defeat against South Africa at The Wanderers, chasing down a record 310 to win the second and final Test by just two wickets.
That they eventually drew the series 1-1 and avoided being the first since Bobby Simpson’s 1970 tourists to lose in South Africa had little to do with soon-to-be-appointed Arthur, more to do with captain Graeme Smith’s bizarre field-placings and bowling changes. No disrespect meant, Biff. Obviously.
John Michael Arthur, born in Johannesburg on May 17, 1968, went to Westville Boys’ High in Durban and scored 6,657 first class runs, including 13 centuries, in a career which was mired largely in Griqualand West and the Free State. He never played for the Proteas.
It was as a coach he truly excelled, leading South Africa from 2005 to 2010, a period which saw the nation rise to the top of the world rankings in Test and One-Day cricket – but when it came to the World Cups, he never quite succeeded in helping the Proteas rid themselves of the infamous “chokers” tag.
He fell out with Cricket South Africa – most do - and eventually moved to Australia to coach the Western Warriors in Perth.

When he parted company with that nice Gerald Majola bloke at CSA, captain Biff said: "It hurts to see him move aside. Mickey was integral in bringing stability and a lot of calmness to the side and he can be proud of what he achieved."

Arthur takes over the reins of his new country insisting: ''I don't think that it will matter, me being an outsider. You get respect straight away when you actually get the job but then you've got got to earn it during your period of time. I think I've earned that with any team I've been with and ultimately you wanted to be regarded and perceived as the best for the job irrespective of your nationality.
''My great grandfather was Australian and I will be looking to get residency here, so I really do feel I have an affinity with Australia.''
Grasping a contract which will see him through until after the 2015 World Cup, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand, he enthuses: ''To be coaching a team of the ilk of Australia is something I'm very, very proud about. I think I bring an unblinkered view, a view that having coached and analysed against a lot of Australian players during my time, but also having worked in the Australian system for the last year and a half I think I have got pretty much a really good idea of where we need to go with the team and what we need to do to have sustainable success over the next period of time.
''Every team I've ever coached, I've had a view on selection. I think that gives you a lot of credibility in the dressing room.''
His role as a selector leads, of course, to the inevitable question: What to do with former captain Ricky Ponting, who scored just eight runs in three innings this month in South Africa before a defiant – and match-turning – half-century in that epic win at The Wanderers.
Arthur growled: “I'll defer that to the first selection meeting,'' before a slight contradiction of his earlier comments about being an outsider: ''It's hard coming in from the outside without knowing what's going on in the team. We need a lot of information on that, something for (chairman of selectors) John Inverarity to take up.''

As it turns out, with five major injuries and four new caps, Ponting has been selected - and is likely to play on Thursday.
Though most cricket-speaking South Africans will wish “King Arthur” well in his new job, while fervently hoping Australia lose every game against his former homeland, Mickey himself concludes: “Australian cricket is in a very exciting phase. There are a lot of good young players coupled with the legends in the senior players. Young players need to be given quality opportunities."
Lest we forget: Arthur guided South Africa to a Test series win over Australia in 2008 - the first by any team on Australian soil in 15 years and a streak of nine unbeaten Test series.

1 comment:

  1. Well if this wasn't kak funny, it'd be purely sad.

    The need to belong is truly a phenomenal thing.

    Farewell Mickey, my mate.... nee not really.