Mickey Arthur has been sacked as coach of Australia just 16 days before the start of the Ashes.

South African Arthur has been the target of criticism in Australia both for the form of the team and the disciplinary issues which have dogged them in India and England.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland and team performance manager Pat Howard will hold a press conference in Bristol later today where it is understood they will confirm Arthur has been dismissed.

Queensland coach Darren Lehmann, who is in England with the Australia A team, appears to be the likely candidate to take over.

"I'm shocked at the timing [but] I would have thought he was on thin ice with the performances of the team" - Damian Fleming

Arthur was appointed as successor to Tim Nielsen in 2011 and was Australia's first overseas coach.

His time in charge has been far from easy as Australia have struggled to replace retiring stars like Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey.

Perhaps the nadir of Arthur's tenure came this March on the tour of India when vice-captain Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja were disciplined for failing to make a presentation on how the team could improve, an incident which became known as 'homework-gate'.

Disciplinary issues continued to haunt the team in England earlier this month when opener David Warner was suspended because of an attack on England batsman Joe Root in a bar.

To compound matters, Australia finished bottom of their group in the Champions Trophy after suffering two defeats, including against Ashes opponents England.

With the first Test of back-to-back Ashes series beginning on July 10, the timing is undoubtedly a surprise.

But former Australia bowler Damian Fleming felt Arthur's position had grown tenuous since the tour of India.

He told BBC Sport: "I'm shocked at the timing [but] I would have thought he was on thin ice with the performances of the team on the field in the last six months, particularly that disastrous Indian tour where we lost 4-0, but also what's been happening off the field.

"It just shows for me that they're not united and for the leadership within the Australian team, that's the biggest job, to make sure everyone's going in the right direction and that hasn't appeared to be happening in the last six months."

Should Lehmann be named as Arthur's replacement, he will take over at a key moment in Australian cricket, as they attempt to regain the Ashes having lost the last two Test series against England.

Lehmann has impressed since being appointed coach of Queensland.

Fleming said: "Darren Lehmann was a fine Australian player, they love him up in Yorkshire, he's a legend there and he's done some good work for Queensland. He took over a couple of years ago, they've won the Sheffield Shield, the Big Bash.

"He's got the blend of being a fine Australian cricketer in his own right and you don't want to get on the wrong side of Boof (Lehmann).

"The only question for him is when you are coaching a new team you want to bring in your own structures. Is he going to be able to so that 20 days out from the Ashes? I don't think so.

"But I'd like an Australian coach and particularly one who's been a fine player like Darren Lehmann."

Lehmann himself is no stranger to disciplinary breaches.

In 2003 he received a five-match ban from the International Cricket Council for a racial outburst after a game against Sri Lanka.