Australian cricketers have to keep fighting

Ben Pobjie Columnist

By Ben Pobjie, Ben Pobjie is a Roar Expert

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    You got sacked Mickey, get over it. (Image: AFP / William West)

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    As I write, the first day of the third Test has been washed out, meaning that Mickey Arthur’s stern discipline seems to be working already.

    If things go to plan, perhaps the next four days will also be washed out, and the Arthur-Clarke tactics will have sparked a mighty comeback from the humiliation of Hyderabad.

    But seriously, a lot has already been written about the homework-related sackings, and there seems so little to add, except to note that the commenter on another article who referred to it as cricket’s “brown M and Ms moment” may have been right.

    Just as Van Halen used the demand for a bowl of M and Ms without the brown ones to make sure the venue management had properly read the safety requirements in their contract, Mickey Arthur and Michael Clarke might legitimately worry about the ability of a man to concentrate for five days of elite sport when they can’t take fifteen minutes out of their weekend to jot down some ideas.

    Oh and to also note that Shane Warne was a lot more likeable when he was leaping around hotel rooms with nude ladies than when he’s writing manifestos.

    What I’d really like to do here is to send a message to the Australian team, who I assume are reading this, or at least having an assistant or family member read it for them.

    And that message is: GO YOU GOOD THINGS.

    You’ve seen movies. You’ve read books. You know when the greatest moments in sport happen: when all seems lost. When your fortunes have hit rock bottom and started fracking for coal seam gas beneath.

    When everything has fallen down in a screaming heap around you and your only option seems to be to lie down and start whimpering and eating rubble.

    Ian Botham at Headingley 1981. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid at Kolkata 2001. Michael Atherton’s entire career.

    Isn’t it time we added “the whole Australian team 2013” to the list? Isn’t it time we let slip the dogs of war?

    This is not to say the players are soft, or that they haven’t been trying.

    I’m not here to join the media cabal best described as “people who make kissy faces at photos of Ian Chappell”, who can’t seem to stop going on about how David Boon used to drink so much that his square cut was actually an unusually useful instance of delirium tremens, or how Doug Walters’ batting coach was a pack of Winnie Blues.

    You know, we get it guys: Dennis Lillee never used a computer and Rod Marsh would punch you if you asked him to attend meetings and everyone who played cricket 30 years ago was just a perfectly-shaped streak of manly gristle and anti-authoritarian resentment.

    Well you know what? It’s 2013 now, everyone. Maybe we can update our world view a bit.

    Reading the sports pages these days is like being told to throw away your iPhone given how well people used to manage with telegrams. Come on.

    No, what I’m saying is, Australian cricketers, you’re in a tight spot. Nobody believes in you. They think your talents are modest, your attitude is disgraceful and your team processes are pathetic.

    The media has given up on you. Social media has given up on you.

    The Indian team is considering doing everything with their non-preferred hand just to give you a sporting chance.

    No one thinks you can win the next Test, or the one after that, or the ten after that.

    Winning the Ashes is seen as an outcome roughly as likely as the new Pope converting to Sikhism.

    According to the whole world, you’re not good enough and you haven’t got the faintest clue how to get any better.

    Well, are you going to take that? Are you going to sit there and let us all go on thinking that?

    After all the hard work and sacrifice you put in to become Test cricketers, are you going to let the public tell you that you don’t work hard enough and you don’t care about that baggy green on your head?

    Are you going to see articles titled “Poms gloat as Aussies become laughingstock” and listen to people tell you that this is a reason to change everything you’re doing?

    Are you, the Australian cricket team, going to start caring what England thinks?

    No, you’re NOT, dammit! You’re going to stick your chin out at the world, tell them to take their best shot, and you are going to FIGHT!

    You’re going to fight like Allan Border in the Caribbean. You’re going to fight like Stan McCabe against Bodyline. You’re going to fight like Slasher Mackay at Adelaide, Dean Jones at Chennai and Rick McCosker at Melbourne.

    You’re going to fight like Rocky, like Daniel-san, like Indiana Freaking Jones.

    You’re going to fight like demons.

    And the Indians will send down those fizzing grenades to spit and pop out of the dust, and they’ll prance down the wicket and crack you to all corners of the ground.

    And later the English will strut and preen and swing the ball viciously and stroke the ball culturedly and every moment from now until the end of the double-barrelled Ashes will be hard as hell.

    But you’re going to keep fighting. And you may not win this Test. You may not win another Test all year, but by God no team is going to walk off the field thinking they’ve not been in a fight.

    You’re going to fill in your wellness reports, you’re going to turn up to practice on time, you’re going to train like men possessed and you’re going to stick together like desperate fugitives huddling in a cave in the middle of a rainstorm, and every action you undertake will be directed solely at making the rest of the world regret ever looking at you funny.

    What I’m saying, team, is to hell with objective analysis and reasoned commentary.

    Circle your wagons, tell everyone else to shove their criticisms where the light metre reads “gloomy”, and tear back into international cricket like a rabid Rottweiler.

    And even if you end up getting put down, you’re going to make damn sure some legs get bitten before the end.

    Nobody believes you can do it. At one minute to midnight, it’s time to make them all look like idiots. Bare your fangs, Australia, and BITE.

    Ben Pobjie
    Ben Pobjie

    Ben Pobjie is a writer & comedian writing on The Age, New Matilda and The Roar, whose promising rugby career was tragically cut short the day he stopped playing rugby and had a pizza instead. The most he has ever cried was the day Balmain lost the 1989 grand final. Today he enjoys watching Wallabies, Swans, baggy greens, and Storms.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • March 15th 2013 @ 7:24am
      Lukeling said | March 15th 2013 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Great stuff Ben! Love the Van Halen reference.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/the-roar/id327174726?mt=8].

    • Roar Guru

      March 15th 2013 @ 8:37am
      JGK said | March 15th 2013 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      The current XI can start their Daniel-san training in this test with the 12th man.

      “Max on, Max off, Max on, Max off”.

    • March 15th 2013 @ 11:47am
      kid said | March 15th 2013 @ 11:47am | ! Report

      Ben, if I heard this from Clarke and Arthur we may have a chance. Unfortunately the us against them mentality doesn’t work when its captain/coach against players. Clarke should be out there saying “we are not changing the team. These ARE the best players in australia and we’re going to proove it!” Then head back to the rooms and tell the boys look I’ve put my reputation on the line for you boys lets do what we need to to win.

      A little eye of the tiger montage later and we’ve got the ashes back…simple.

      • March 15th 2013 @ 2:50pm
        Brian said | March 15th 2013 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

        This is the problem there is no consistency. Only 3 players have managed to play the last 7 tests and one of them is Cowan.

      • Roar Guru

        March 15th 2013 @ 11:55pm
        Mick Gold Coast QLD said | March 15th 2013 @ 11:55pm | ! Report

        “Then head back to the rooms and tell the boys look I’ve put my reputation on the line for you …”

        … at which the kiddies will first consult their tweetie closest friends to find out if what Clarke just said is a good thing or not. I’m fairly sure “reputation” has too many syllables for them to digest independently.

        I do like the headline “Australian cricketers have to keep fighting”, to which I’d add “… anyone who is so presumptuous as to tell them what to do anytime, anywhere.”

        I believe the solution is to name everyone Co-Captain and encourage their opinion on who should play. Recommended phonetically that is – I’m not sure many of them could accurately spell out the name of each team member, especially those not in their gang. If they don’t get their besties selected they can pack up and live in another hotel or duck over to Goa for a few nights on the turps, to recover from the deep personal insult.

        They’d do well to follow the lead of their Vice Captain (absent overseas) and form cliques and conduct political wars between factions within the team. Feet stamping, toys-from-cot-throwing and phone calls back home complaining to mummy are sooooo disrespected these days by those awful cricket officials and administrators.

        Mind you – pay day should never be disturbed by any of these changes. They must be paid what their contract says they are worth, on time, or else we’ll also have a self esteem epidemic breaking out.

    • March 15th 2013 @ 12:25pm
      Adrian said | March 15th 2013 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

      there is no mungral in the aussie creicet team any more now that siddle is a vego not a pie eating fast bowler clarke still looks like a kid how gels his hair who could follow that example lets see who has chest hair in the team make him captian and undo a few buttons on his shirt

    • March 15th 2013 @ 12:29pm
      Bearfax said | March 15th 2013 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

      Well if the in-fighting could be transferred onto the field, we’d win easily.

      The managers have forgotten one important issue here. Players are there to do their best, but its up to management to ensure they have the conditions and team tactics to get the best out of these guys. Despite all the talk, these guys, well many of them, are damn good cricketers in the early stages of their career. In a couple of years we’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about. We should expect with such an inexperienced side that we’re in for potential floggings.

      Cricket Australia and the management group didnt prepare these kids for this series, instead giving them almost no time to acclimatise to the weather, pitches, bowling style etc. They should have been there a month before having ODI games or many non test games to acclimatise to conditions unlike any elsewhere in the World. But they just threw them in there without appropriate preparation. And now they are playing school teacher and not giving each of them the support and encouragement they need.

      With the right management, Australia should be closing in on India by this and the next test. After the first test, management showed its lack of confidence and support, except for its favourites, by dumping players looking for experience. The result was a worse result. Then the heavy chastisement for a minor issue, disqualifying four players, one the vice catain now considering his future, before the 3rd test. Great encouragement, great people skillss, great management yeh. No wonder the players are ‘talking back’. They’ve lost confidence in a management who are supposed to be there to support them, but arent, and are in fact criticising players openly, ignoring their own responsibility in this debacle

    • March 15th 2013 @ 12:52pm
      Mango Jack said | March 15th 2013 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

      The last time Aus were in this position, early 80s, they convinced a reluctant Allan Border to take over as captain. Never a great tactician or media performer, he had the qualities they desperately needed. He was as tough as teak and led from the front like some old fashion British army sargeant. Beligerent, uncompromising, he inspired a group of novices and turned them in to a winning team. Taylor then added the tactical nous to turn them into a world-beating one.

      As much as I admire Clarke for his batting prowess and ability to stay the distance, I don’t get the sense this team gels around him. We need someone who insipres as much fear as respect (who can forget Capt Grumpy’s spray against McDermott??).

      I just don’t know who that someone is?

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