The Marsh Brothers – Shaun and Mitchell. For years, the two siblings have felt the wrath of the Australian public. Whenever the brothers have been amongst a now (almost) inevitable Australian middle order collapse, they have been the scapegoats.
The word that comes to mind when thinking about the current state of Western Australian cricket is, unfortunately, disaster.
The recent decision by the board not to administer punishment to any players other than the Marsh brothers and Nathan Rimmington is hard to understand
When senior players and coaches freely express the opinion that other players had behaved to the same, if not worse, manner than those publicly reprimanded, surely their fate must be the same.
Of the resulting loss on the field directly following the events that have since caused so much chaos, senior player Simon Katich said the team had got what it deserved. Their preparation had not, according to the former Test player, been up to standard expected of a professional outfit.
Scorchers coach Lachlan Stevens admitted afterwards that if there had been more players in the squad on the South African trip, more would have been suspended. It was only for lack of cover that those players got off the hook.
So for the WACA to suggest now that no more sanctions need be imposed, and that the players had suffered enough through trial by media and the matter was, effectively, over beggar’s belief, doesn’t it? Isn’t the media excuse always a pretty unimaginative response?
Players today grow up in the media, they are surround and involved in it on some level from an extremely early on in this digital age. This generation’s activity in social media has, more than anything else, completely changed how players and the public interact.
Players are effectively be trained to survive the scrutiny once they become professional long before they are old enough to play
Now more than ever, players are savvy and adept at engaging in and responding to most negative situations posed by the media. Even if they aren’t, enough publicists and managers are around to steer them in the right direction.
There is always enough spin to go around.
Is it me, or does it seem the WACA wants this whole business to just go away? Moving on from this and building for the future of WA cricket is essential, no question. There is a difference between moving on, however, and racing for the door.
The organisation needs take ownership of the situation, to demonstrate that it can act when it is appropriate to do so.
Strength starts at the top. Everybody involved and all those observing need to be shown what the WACA stands for. Clear direction, purpose and definitions of what will and will not be acceptable are essential for all concerned.
Still, the WACA is in a period of change. The board is new, the CEO not that long in the job and in charge of an organisation that has not won anything in recent memory. The task was big enough, without this additional headache.
But the point is, surely, that it is the perfect environment, and the easier path, to enact real change and establish a culture that is uncompromising in its pursuit of success. Equally important is that it be open and transparent, or else risk repeating the mistakes of the past.
It’s going to take some work, so start now and build for the future.
It’s also the smart option. The tough stance will be much easier to take by the media and the public, even if it proved to be a mistake, than a weak one. The WACA could be forgiven for having been assertive in its perceived attempt to fix obviously endemic problems.
It might be argued that this process has begun with the resignation of Marcus North as captain if not for the fact that even this was not handled in the way it should have been.
North’s stated reason for resigning was form, not what happened in South Africa. Really?
The first announcement after arriving back from the most tumultuous tour the team has been involved in is the captain’s resignation and they have nothing to do with each other? Please.
He had to be truthful to be taken seriously, and for the WACA to show that it takes its fans seriously. If the fans lose the passion for the game because they think those in charge take them for granted, they will walk away.
WA cricket desperately needs to be taken seriously right now.
The inarguable truth is that none of this would matter nearly so much if the team were winning. WA have not won a trophy of any sort since the Warriors beat Queensland at the Gabba in 2004 to win the domestic one-day title.
Three outright losses in the Sheffield Shield this season, and one win from two games in the Ryobi Cup, does not inspire confidence of this changing anytime soon. If this is to be addressed, the culture needs to change. If I’ve observed nothing else in all my years watching sport, it’s that.
It’s happened so many times, in so many different organisations and sports, it’s become a cliché. Players misbehave repeatedly due to lack of discipline and a breakdown in accountability.
This is investigated and if successfully addressed, culminates in a cultural shift that permeates the entire organisation. The team resets with firmly established values and boundaries that help them build towards success.
There are no quick fixes, no easy answers, so the WACA should not be acting as such. More importantly, they need to be seen to be moving forward in a direction that inspires confidence in everyone.
It seems that right now, all we can look forward to is more of the same. Mediocrity.
As a fan not only of WA cricket but also of the game itself, this is hard to swallow.