There is a great scene in Mike Judge's 1999-film Office Space where protagonist Peter Gibbons is reprimanded by his boss for failing to include a cover sheet on the report he filed. His six managers mean he gets the same reprimand over and again. Each time his argument that he 'forgot, the report is done, and it won't take long to sort a new cover sheet' is ignored. Eventually, he just stops caring.
It came to mind when news broke that Australia are dropping their best bowler, vice-captain and two leading reserves for failing to submit to management three points on how they and the team could improve.
Despite the lavish salaries and lifestyles cricketers enjoy these days, it's managerial and not player power that defines the era. It is clear in this case like it was with the KP fiasco last summer.
Perhaps these management tasks matter. It's possible Mitchell Johnson had crucial insights on the technical failings of his team's top-order but he's more likely to have made a difference with his left-arm slingers. On the field James Pattinson looks one of the world's brightest fast-bowling prospects; he's certainly Australia's best bowler. Is that not enough?
Iain O'Brien put it best when he Tweeted: “What if those 4 Aust players were training/netting/gyming – making themselves better personally - & didn't have time to “form fill”?”
In a managerial era such commitment doesn't count unless it's demonstrable through means acceptable, and accountable to those up top. In Britain this means NHS nurses are told they don't care unless they fill out the appropriate forms “proving” they've paid attention. In the Australian cricket team this means players must 'take responsibility' and be 'more professional' only by completing the tasks set by managers reading the latest in business leadership. It's less a case of empowering people than it is about infantilising them.
Drop Shane Watson for his failings as a batsman, not as an administrator. Else, treat him as a child and he might just stomp off home.