Australian coach Darren Lehmann has had enough.
Not of losing (although I’m sure he feels he’s already had enough of that) and not of media attention on his players (although again, there’s been more than enough of that as well in since he took over the side in the lead-up to the First Test).
No, Lehmann has had enough of Australians fans being too nice towards their bitter rivals, and has urged Australians to give England hell as they approach our shores next summer. And in his mind, the vast majority of that attention should focus around Stuart Broa d—the man at the heart of the “walking” scandal at Trent Bridge.
“From my point of view, I just hope the Australian public give it to him right from the word go for the whole summer and I hope he cries and goes hope,” Lehmann said via Triple M.
“I just hope everyone gets stuck into him because the way he’s carried on and the way he’s commented in public about it is ridiculous.”
“I hope the public actually gets stuck into him.”
For most of Australia, the notion of making Broad’s life in Australia a living nightmare doesn’t seem all that difficult. After watching him single-handedly cost us the First Test and completely swing the momentum of the Ashes back to the home team (which as we’d soon see was pivotal in their retaining of the urn), picturing Broad as public enemy number one this summer really shouldn’t be that difficult.
However, there’s an underlying aspect of such a task that is far more difficult than just bagging Broad from the boundary line to the broadcasting box.
To get under the skin of the English, we’ve got to stand by the Aussies.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking — Dan, of course I support the Aussies. They’ve my team. They’re my country.
Then if that’s the case, we need to start acting like it.
Supporting the Aussies means more than just cheering them when we’re playing well. Supporting them — to the extent that Lehmann indirectly desires — means standing by them when they’re struggling. It means not allowing the Poms a single sniff of disunity or disapproval towards the 11 men on our screens.
England shouldn’t be able to pick up the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald or The Age or the Brisbane Times after the First Test and read that the Australian team is unravelling and fragile once more.
Regardless of what the outcome of the match might be; supporting our team and our country means not getting stuck into our own players like we would our opposition .
We can’t heckle Broad, and Warner. It simply won’t work, and it won’t get under the skin of the English like Lehmann hopes that it will.
To borrow an analogy from Queensland’s eight-year dominance in State of Origin, Caxton Street wouldn’t be such a difficult road for the Blues to travel down if every time Queensland lost a match, their own supporters turned on the team.
NSW wouldn’t have lost every series for the past eight years if playing in Queensland wasn’t such a difficult ask due to the environment that was created for them.
And while I’m not for a moment suggesting that one state’s fans are “greater” or “better” than the other, what I am saying is that that is the environment we need to set for the English when they come this summer.
Make them uncomfortable; make them think they can’t divide us. And then watch those 11 men out on the field do the rest.
Maybe it will work, and England won’t feel at all at home (which is somewhat ironic in light of the Commonwealth). But it will only work if we follow our attempts to “give the English hell” with a similar criticism and disapproval spell.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t point our shortcomings and try to address our failures. It doesn’t mean for a minute that we can’t put players under increased pressure when their performances aren’t up to scratch.
But what it does mean is that, at the end of the day, we back our players to the hilt. Both you—the reader—and I—the media—need to start there and figure out how to curb our criticism in order to best create a nightmare summer for England. And once we do, then we’ve got to go all guns blazing.
Stuart Broad shouldn’t be able to walk into a bar this summer without copping it from every direction. Though, then again, it’s not like he’d walk anyway.
94 days, England. We’re waiting…