Ruthlessness comes with confidence in team’s ability

Viscount Crouchback Roar Rookie

By Viscount Crouchback, Viscount Crouchback is a Roar Rookie

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    The most peculiar moment of the Lord’s Test came when Russell Crowe, cousin of the match referee, Jeff Crowe, entered the Sky TV commentary box and proceeded to lambast the “lack of ruthlessness” shown by the Australian team in Cardiff.

    “Don’t the Australians usually have the clamp on the opposition’s throat?”, he asked a somewhat startled Shane Warne.

    Crowe, one presumes, shares the mindset of those Australians who attributed the 2005 Ashes defeat to over-friendliness on the part of the Baggy Greens. According to this theory, victory comes to those who snarl and sledge and induce “mental disintegration” in their opponents.

    It took Nasser Hussain (speaking later) to make the point that Crowe missed: ruthlessness requires a decent bowling attack. An intimidatory presence on the field requires a decent bowling attack. All the snarling and sledging in the world is utterly useless unless you have four (or better, five) chaps who can take twenty wickets.

    These Australians look relatively toothless and bland, not because they’re not sufficiently mean, but because they’re not sufficiently good.

    Equally, Steve Waugh’s players frightened the life out of their opponents not because they “looked like prizefighters” and sledged, but because they boasted some of the most magnificent performers in the history of the game.

    It was Glenn McGrath’s ability to drop the ball on a six pence for six balls in a row that intimidated Mike Atherton, not his bizarre hissy fits.

    Crowe’s comments betrayed a failure to understand the nature of sporting “presence”.

    It’s an organic process, built on success enjoyed by a group of players over a period of time. You can’t flick a switch and become ruthless. It takes an inner core of belief based on individual and collective success.

    Hayden could strut because he (and his mates) had the record to back it up. Marcus North would merely look ridiculous if he tried to do the same.

    Crowe thus puts the cart before the horse.

    In truth, the travails of Ponting’s team prove what English critics of Australian cricket maintained throughout the 1990s: that the overt aggression of Waugh’s team was a gratuitous and malign irrelevance which pointlessly besmirched the good name of cricket in general, and Australian cricket in particular, whilst maintaining no benefit to the Baggy Greens themselves.

    They could have played as quietly as church mice and would still have thrashed England throughout that period because of their magnificent bowlers.

    Mr Waugh speaks with delightful self-deprecation in his retirement, but his tactics as captain needlessly tarnished the image of cricket.

    The Australian team of 1995-2005 could have gone down not only as one of the most respected teams in cricketing history, but also as one of the most loved.

    Instead, the faint odour of barbarism will forever linger.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • Roar Guru

      July 23rd 2009 @ 9:12am
      Vinay Verma said | July 23rd 2009 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      Viscount….Prescient, Perceptive and Penetrative.

      The virtues of overt aggresiveness are overrated. Kruschev with his shoe at the UN was counter productive. And History has shown that it is better to befriend than berate.

      I recently met Brian Booth and the first thing that struck me about him was his serenity. A man without rancour and passionate about the game we cherish. It is a pity we dont celebrate role models like Brian Booth but go all agog with the other BB.

      • July 23rd 2009 @ 10:48am
        ozziejag said | July 23rd 2009 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        I can’t think who the other BB is ?

        • Roar Guru

          July 23rd 2009 @ 10:51am
          Vinay Verma said | July 23rd 2009 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Bridgette Bardot

          • July 23rd 2009 @ 11:24am
            ozziejag said | July 23rd 2009 @ 11:24am | ! Report

            What’s she got to do with cricket ?

            • Roar Guru

              July 23rd 2009 @ 11:32am
              Vinay Verma said | July 23rd 2009 @ 11:32am | ! Report

              She’s a maiden….over and out.

    • July 23rd 2009 @ 9:43am
      Brett McKay said | July 23rd 2009 @ 9:43am | ! Report

      Viscount, this takes me back to the 1989 series, where after Australia were criticised after the ’85 series for being too friendly with England. David Gower made the comment in ’89 that Border “only said ‘heads’ or ‘tails’ to me for three months”. Ruthlessness takes time, as you’ve correctly suggested.

      Vinay, I too have met Brian Booth, a couple of times, and you’re quite right about his nature; he is a true gentleman. But he’s also the first to admit that he wouldn’t have survived in today’s game because he wouldn’t have had the personality to survive the professional game. Booth himself admits that he can really only watch club cricket these days..

      • Roar Guru

        July 23rd 2009 @ 10:21am
        Vinay Verma said | July 23rd 2009 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        Brett,I think Brian Booth was being his modest self. I am sure he would have cut the mustard. I can give you countless examples of men of substance who have been able to survive and prosper in this so called “professional” age. Dravid,Chanderpaul,Sangakarra,Jayawarene,Jayasuriya,Katich,Hussey. And I wouldn’t ,necessarily,exclude Ponting. The problem with Ponting is that he sometimes wears his heart on his sleeve and that is not a bad thing. He is a tremendous batsman.
        In general I believe the modern cricketer conducts himself exceptionally well,considering the intense public scrutiny. It is all the more remarkable for people like Tendulkar where he has to disguise himself to go out in public.
        Another time and another place we should look at how players cope in the current environment…the circumstances of Andrew Symonds and Shaun Tait ..the collateral damage to ones well being….the price that an elite sportman pays.

    • July 23rd 2009 @ 12:30pm
      Jameswm said | July 23rd 2009 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

      Any opportunity to bag the Aussies, right?

      Pull the other one…bowling 6 accurate balls whilst having a joke with your opponents each ball would really build up the pressure. The Aussies carried on no more than, say, the English in the 2nd test when they were on top. Did they give it to Phillip Hughes or what?

      • July 23rd 2009 @ 4:40pm
        FIsher Price said | July 23rd 2009 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

        The point is the current Australian side can’t be as mouthy because they’ve got very little to back it up with. The snarls of Peter Siddle are ridiculous.

    • Editor

      July 23rd 2009 @ 3:58pm
      Benjamin Conkey said | July 23rd 2009 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

      Srisanth from India and Nel from South Africa immediately sring to mind, to back up your article Viscount. They carry on with garbage on the field, and only rarely back it up with strong performances.
      These are the type of bowlers that will be hit for six and still try and sledge the batsman.

      My other pet hate is bowlers sending off batsmen, who have just scored a century.

      Speaking off sledging..the “Sherminator” is in for a real tough time if he plays in the next Test. Shane Warne might not be on the field, but Punter and co will be rehearsing their lines now in preparation for Bell’s arrival to the crease.

      Someone at Cricinfo wrote a good article today..about how Australia will feel extremely comfortable with Bell and Bopara at the crease. Bell is insecure…and Bopara is brash and impatient.

    • July 23rd 2009 @ 4:48pm
      Jameswm said | July 23rd 2009 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

      Benjamin I hate any send-off, regardless of how many the batsman has scored.

      There was a great story Bill O’Reilly told once. He said he was playing against Bradman in an U20s match. On the first day, Bradman scored 240no. O’reilly then got him out right at the start of the 2nd day. O’Reilly said he won the first day, I won the 2nd, so the honours were about even!

      By the way Fisher what you’re insinuating is the Aussies or anyone else CAN be mouthy when they do have something to back it up with, which goes against the grain of this article.

      It’s also a question of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable sledging.

      For example – what about reminding a batsman he is still on 0, after he’s faced say 15 balls. “He’s still not off the mark yet, keep him on strike”. Or “this bloke doesn’t like the short ones, so rip some into his ribs”. Or “geez you wouldn’t want to get out right now, just before lunch/stumps”.

      That sort of stuff would happen in 3rd grade in Sydney.

    • Roar Guru

      July 23rd 2009 @ 5:01pm
      Greg Russell said | July 23rd 2009 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

      I would just like to say that this article cannot have been written by the real Viscount, because the word “ghastly” was not used once. However I suspect that the real Viscount entered the room just as the final sentence was being typed: “Instead, the faint odour of barbarism will forever linger.”

      I agree completely with “It was Glenn McGrath’s ability to drop the ball on a six pence for six balls in a row that intimidated Mike Atherton, not his bizarre hissy fits” and associated points.

      I wonder if anyone else wonders if Steve Waugh’s incessant talk about “mental disintegration” was just a bluff, or at the very least something that only Steve himself believed? I always found that Shane Warne’s utterances and gestures gave a much more accurate insight into Australia’s tactical planning. For example, Warne would just say things like “He doesn’t like chin music”. Great teams require simple tactics. It’s only modest teams that require complicated tactics.

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