Aussie cricketers are serial bad sports
I’m not the most patriotic chap. I was, but not now. I question why, too. Then Perth reminded me. Punter shouting abuse to the sideline at the departing batter. A captain? Foul. It embarrasses me and is not what I want my son to see.
I recall Neil Harvey criticising the Waugh era Australian team for their attitude. But I don’t hear much else. And he copped flak for it, too.
News readers smirk at the sledging topic, others stay silent, many have no idea what you’re talking about, others don’t care. The CA states restraint of sledging is ‘damaging’ to the Aussies game. This final one is the most disturbing.
What has become of us between Harvey’s innings and the now?
The Aussies claim it as competitiveness. “It’s tough out there,” they say. All those childish protests. Most will bring up examples of others’ poor behaviour quick smart. “They did it so I can too,” they claim.
There’s also, “It’s just a bit of fun.” True, who would deny a bit of a hassle or some verbal tactic, some game, but where is the line? The Australians don’t really know, nor care.
We all still bleed over the body-line mythology. Why? Poor sportsmanship.
Yet the Australians are serial offenders of poor sportsmanship: the under arm ball; Dennis Lillee kicking Javed Miandad; Boof Lehmann’s foul racist slur; Slater in the umpire’s face; Healy running Lara out knowingly without the ball; Steve Waugh’s perpetual mouth.
Then there’s McGrath; the ultimate. Crankiness and spite was his norm, pursed evil lips cursing away constantly, at times physically confronting. One could go on and on.
As a child, I was a pretty bad sport, but it was worked out of me by my parents – I doubt it is by most parents – and watching the behaviour of good sports, mainly the Windies.
On YouTube there is footage of Lillee bowling at Viv Richards and the comparative attitudes are clear. Lillee bowls four bouncers in a row – no problem from me – and after one delivery he does a rather odd aggressive run down the pitch. His inner angst lit up in neon. After every bouncer, Viv, no helmet, just turns, struts away and smiles – his own psychological game on Lillee.
Then Lillee bowls him. Viv immediately turns and walks, not a millisecond of hesitation, takes the defeat with up most grace. It’s beautiful. Lillee runs to the stumps to kick them. Viv’s cool is what I want my son to see. Greats being humble.
Is it now engrained in Aussies? In World War I, an English journalist wrote that Australian soldiers, “Had learned already to look at our men with the curious, half-pitying look of a higher, happier caste at a lower.” Has this grown under our skin, and turned us into loud mouth smart arses?
This is no attack on Australian larrikinism by the way, I like that. However, it’s being replaced by pretentiousness and bitterness, which I don’t like.
In their history, the West Indies faced blatant racism. If ever a reason to be bitter and mouthy, that would have to be the one. Yet somehow, used to the folly of primitive bigotry, they played with dignity, and like the cliché states, “Let their cricket do the talking.” And did it talk. It’s a highly admirable attitude.
I’m not that admirable, nor is Australia’s foul mouthed aggression, and it’s a shame that to show your child an example of how to behave you can’t really point at your own national team – or yourself for that matter – and say, watch.
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