Lessons from 'Homework-gate'

Is the modern cricketer over-coached and under-assertive?

Self-governance doesn't come easy, nor is willful participation in the attainment of a common good easily instilled. Building and sustaining sports teams then is a task that is pulled simultaneously in as many directions as there are participants in the activity. Gideon Haigh in The Australian writes about the modern culture of coaching and the over-reliance of players on structures of support, at most times at the cost of a player's individuality. The Michael Clarke-Mickey Arthur-engineered  'Homework-gate', the author suspects, may be a step, although a little off-kilter, in the direction of a more direct relationship between the great game and the men who play it.

Yet that Watson was among the do-nothings is not remotely surprising. Probably more coaching and management resources have been poured into him than any cricketer of his generation - for the dividend of two centuries in 40 Tests.

He is a handsome player of abundant talent. He is also wealthy, pampered, immature and self-involved. That's what a life in modern professional sport can make of you.

In his favour, Watson is not lazy. Indeed, Arthur went out of his way to praise the vice-captain's work ethic: "Shane Watson prepares well. He's very professional and he goes about his business in a very professional way." But only "his business"; nobody else's.

Something similar applies to the other three players suspended: Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja and James Pattinson. All have been made to feel special from youngest days. All have grown accustomed to having things done for them, to giving only of their abilities and little of themselves.