More like a state of mass hysteria, filth and fury

Kersi Meher-Homji Columnist

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    State of Origin Game I, 2011.

    Thank goodness it is over, I said to myself last Thursday. The super-hyped State of Origin rugby league series was over. But is it? The Maroons coach Mal Meninga is trying to keep the embers burning with tasteless remarks on tasteless remarks.

    “It was a victory against the very rats and filth that tried to poison a monumental team with lies, personal attacks, arrogance and disrespect”, to quote Meninga’s recent newspaper column.

    We have heard of sore losers, but a sore winner?

    I am typing this away with a helmet (the ones jousters wore in Ben Hur and El Cid, not what batsmen wear today) and silver body armour. My passport and visa to an unspecified country are in my bag.


    Because I’ll be attacked by every true blue Aussie! My nationality will be questioned despite my knowing the batting average of Don Bradman and gulping down three cans of beer in a session.

    May I be bold enough to ask an ignorant question? Why this mass hysteria about State of Origin matches?

    They are not internationals but only between two States of Australia: Queensland and New South Wales.

    Still, Australians go ‘Lady Gaga’ during those three matches, which go on for weeks (and seems to me to be forever).

    There are previews, reviews, analyses, parades before those matches and “rats, filth and fury” after.

    And over 50,000 spectators purchase tickets for each State of Origin match weeks in advance.

    I agree, the best players in the country participate in these matches and the standard of play is very high. The last hurrah for the legendary Darren Lockyer added a sentimental aftertaste.

    But a Sheffield Shield cricket match between the same two States barely attracts a crowd of 250. Probably, with Test stars included, it may attract 5,000 in four days.

    But 190,000 spectators watching a total of four hours of three State of Origin matches is beyond belief. Especially the media for promoting a semi-domestic tussle into a do or die death defying mega event.

    To me, it is mass hysteria.

    I recall a Doris Day and Rock Hudson movie in 1950s in which a medicine was promoted so vehemently that the demand was in millions despite the medication not even being manufactured, let alone tested by the Therapeutic Drugs Administration.

    I realise Australia also stops working during Melbourne Cup in November, but the horses come from many countries which makes it an international gala event. Also, it is an occasion to dress up and hat up, making it a social extravaganza.

    If not international, why not make State of Origin a national competition by including all or most States of Australia? If I lived in Victoria, I would be livid.

    Melburnians, where are you? Sydney and Brisbane are having a picnic and you are grounded.

    Over to you, review committee chief Greg McCallum, and you Roarers, too.

    Kersi Meher-Homji
    Kersi Meher-Homji

    Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.