Australia coach Darren Lehmann has been successful because his administrators have adopted the South African way in running the team, says Mickey Arthur.
Arthur, who coached both South Africa and Australia, says that when he coached Australia, he pleaded for the autonomy that he had while leading South Africa. But he never got it. But when Lehmann was appointed, the mindset shifted.
Lehmann replaced Arthur as coach of Australia on the eve of the 2013 Ashes series in England following a turbulent time in charge of the Aussies.
In a new book, Whitewash to Whitewash, by ESPNcricinfo‘s assistant editor Daniel Brettig, to be released on Wednesday, Arthur says he was unable to assert enough authority as coach.
‘I felt with Australia I never had the freedom to do it [my way], simply because I always felt suffocated,’ Arthur says. ‘There were so many people touching the team and I wanted the freedom to run the team the way I knew I could, and I never, ever felt I had that freedom.
‘When I ran South Africa there was a selection panel, but I would pick teams and had a lot more freedom. At CA [Cricket Australia] I felt that with every decision we were going to make I had to make five phone calls to five different people, whereas with South Africa I just made my decision, put it in my report and told the board at the next meeting.’
He says that he made this point many times to performance chief Pat Howard, the man who ultimately informed the coach his services were no longer required.
Arthur was hurt by his dismissal, but now believes that it led to Australian cricket’s recent successes. Howard is nowhere near as hands-on with the team and the selectors as he was during Arthur’s time, trusting that Lehmann is in control.
‘I’ve spoken to a lot of people and they say Pat’s hardly ever around now,’ Arthur says.
‘When I was there, he was there every minute of every day. Everything I wanted is what Darren has, and Darren’s now running it the way I ran South Africa, and I’m really chuffed for him because that’s the way it should be.
‘I missed that because everyone was trying to find role-definition and clambering over each other to find their sense of authority. The roles were all blurred and intermingled. The one thing the sacking did was that the roles then got clearly defined, because they realised that mistakes had been made. I was the fall guy for Darren to get total autonomy over the team, which is great, because that’s how it should be.’
Arthur coached South Africa from 2005 to 2010, leading them to a first series victory in England for 43 years and a maiden series win in Australia. He quit in January 2010 after a fall-out with the national board. He was appointed Australia coach in November, 2011, but reportedly had a difficult relationship with some of the players.