Cricket Australia’s dirty laundry is now being aired while the Australian team prepare for the second test. Former coach Mickey Arthur is suing Cricket Australia following his public sacking just 10 days before the first Ashes test. Arthur has filed proceedings in the Fair Work Commission alleging, among other things, that his sacking was unlawful on the grounds of racial discrimination.
That is, Arthur claims that he was discriminated against because of his South African background and because of a perception that he didn’t understand the “Australian way”. He also alleges that he was not supported by Cricket Australia over the “homework gate” affair resulting in four players being sent home from an Indian tour.
Arthur is claiming damages in the order of $4 million, which he estimates to be his losses resulting from the early termination of his contract which was due to expire in June 2015. Plus he wanted a further 3 years beyond that time. While damages for general protections claims are not subject to a cap, a damages award in that amount based on discrimination alone would certainly be exceptional. If a resolution isn’t reached in the Fair Work Commission, Arthur will likely elect to pursue his claim in the Federal Court, at which time he can add common law claims such as breach of contract.
The timing is unfortunate for the Australian team as documents supporting Arthur’s claim shed light on the conflict between internal team factions, particularly Michael Clarke and Shane Watson. Hardly the distraction the players need after being so close, yet so far, from victory at Trent Bridge. Cricket Australia will no doubt do its best to salvage the situation when it meets with Arthur at an upcoming case conference. Let’s just hope the Australian team can do the same at Lord’s.