This post is about cricket and requires some background knowledge about the sport to fully-comprehend the points being made. Feel free to continue reading, of course, but caveat emptor that it may be boring or obscure if you’re not from a Commonwealth country or you are American or
American lite Canadian.
This month, the Australian men’s team have been playing a series in South Africa. Some unpleasantness occurred between the two teams in the 2nd test match around very personal comments made by the South African players about the wife of Australian batsman, David Warner (prior to their marriage, she’d had a very brief bathroom rendevous with a famous rugby player). The usual modern not-quite fight occurred in the tunnel on the way back to the changing rooms.
Australia’s team and spin machine went into overdrive claiming some imaginary line of decency or topics for “sledging” had been crossed and demanded sanctions on the South African players, particularly and suspiciously on the one player who had been causing them most concern with his skills on the pitch.
This week, whilst staring down the barrel of another test match defeat, an Australian player was caught red-handed interfering with the ball in an attempt to produce a difficult to read spin on the flight of the ball to the batsman. How blatant was the attempt? Yellow duct tape being rubbed across the ball and then the tape was stuffed into his underwear once the coaching staff tipped him off that the TV cameras had spotted it.
In the subsequent press conference the captain admitted to pre-meditated cheating but mentioned that it was a group decision of the “leadership team”. He also brought the younger player who’d been caught cheating into the glare of the camera lights to answer questions.
Back home in Australia, much angst and many pixels and column inches are being produced along the lines of “When did we become a nation of cheats?”.
Two days after the cheating scandal, the non-sports correspondents are allowed free reign on the subject, which has resulted in these two stunning examples of whataboutery;
Firstly, Ross Gittins;
To summarise both articles so you don’t have to slog through the grammar and syntax errors (they’ve fired all the sub-editors); Australian cricket is played by a bunch of cheats because of a recent federal government policy on asylum-seekers arriving by boat that you voted for (or, at least, didn’t vote against).
The Australian men’s national cricket team is loathed by all cricket-playing countries for two reasons;
- Their lack of sportsmanship. This commenced around the time of the Allan Border captaincy in the early 1980s when a win at all costs and hate the opposition attitude became the norm. At the start of this era there was probably a caveat of “within the laws of the game” applied to the win at all costs ethos but the unpleasant on-field banter commenced in earnest at that point. The current culture of the squad is a direct consequence of those years and the incremental effect during the years in between. Blatant ball-tampering to win an otherwise lost test is simply a natural extension of a psychological inability to accept defeat to a superior team.
- Their hypocrisy. The Australian cricket team would have won every Olympic gold medal in “sledging” for 40 years if one had existed. On-pitch insults have always been extremely personal in nature and topics have included the wives of the person being insulted. The temerity of an Australian cricketer claiming some moral high ground over an insult about his wife resulted in ironic belly-laughs from everyone in the non-Australian cricket world.
The way the cheating scandal was handled by the coaching team, captain and vice captain is also highly instructive; there is no such thing as a “leadership team” when blame needs to be owned. The boss is responsible, no-one else. That’s the captain of the team if the decision was made without the coach’s knowledge or the coach if it was. No ifs, not buts; own your decision and do not throw anyone junior under the bus. Be a man or step aside.
Lastly, if you are happy to throw insults around about other people’s personal lives, yet you’ve married a woman who may have previously dressed like a hooker and gave blow-jobs to strangers in toilets, shut the fuck up about “lines of decency” you silly short man.