- The Ashes 2013
Australia sack coach on eve of Ashes
Mickey Arthur has been sacked as Australia's head coach less than three weeks before the start of the Ashes and will be replaced by Darren Lehmann.
Cricket Australia said that failures of discipline, consistency of behaviour and accountability had been the reasons behind the decision. Lehmann will take over immediately and has just over two weeks to prepare the squad for the first Ashes Test after the drastic decision by Cricket Australia's management.
He has won rave reviews for the somewhat old-school approach he has taken with Queensland since he was appointed in 2011 and is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in Australian cricket.
"The board considered him the outstanding candidate to drive the cultural change required in the team and to take it to the number one ranking in all formats of the game," said a spokesman. "No-one is underestimating the task at hand but we believe he is the right man for the job. It is up to the players to respond under his leadership and demonstrate their commitment to a successful Australian team."
But whatever the case, the axing of Arthur so close to the first Ashes Test, which begins on July 10, has left the Australian camp in a state of disarray. The squad was due to meet in Taunton on Monday ahead of their first tour game against Somerset, with some of the players having been part of the Australia A squad, some having been playing in the Champions Trophy and others having been warming up in county cricket.
The team will need to quickly become accustomed to the absence of Arthur, who was named head coach in November 2011. He replaced Tim Nielsen and the move came in the wake of the Argus Report into Australia's team performance, which was commissioned after Australia's thrashing at the hands of England in the home Ashes in 2010-11.
During Arthur's time in charge, Australia won 10 of their 19 Tests but the past few months had been especially challenging both on field and off it. The calamitous 4-0 defeat in India was overshadowed by the so-called homework sackings halfway through the trip, in which Arthur, captain Michael Clarke and team manager Gavin Dovey stood four players down for a Test for failing to complete an off-field task.
The Champions Trophy campaign, in which Australia failed to win a match, was also dominated by events away from the game, when David Warner punched England batsman Joe Root in a pub. Warner was suspended until the first Ashes Test but the incident raised questions about why a group of Australia players were out until the early hours of the morning following a loss.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here