A line in the mud: Australia’s murky alibi

Dylan Carmody Roar Guru

43 Have your say

    Over the course of the past few months, there’s been a phrase constantly uttered by members of the Australian cricket team and the surrounding support behind it.

    “The Line.”

    Nathan Lyon, Steven Smith and most recently David Warner have used this supposed ‘Line’ as a basis for their behaviour on the field.

    “We headbutt the line,” said Nathan Lyon, in a press conference before the Ashes series. It was an interesting comment that we would later find out was foreshadowing the news to break of the Jonny Bairstow incident.

    But since that comment, it has taken on a whole new meaning, especially with the recent saga of Warner and South African wicketkeeper Quinton De Kock.

    Australia, for all the talent and prowess it possesses, is a constant in the debate of sledging and the ‘spirit of the game’. To them, they play hard and they attack the batsmen as much with verbal assaults as they do with speed and pace.

    But what is to say that the Australians play cricket in the ‘spirit of the game’? Who is to say that they don’t go too far, what guides these warriors from saying something that reaches beyond the game?

    Well, the Line, of course!

    In its reality, the Line is an ambiguous moral code that Australia abides by, or so it says. Before the Line lies a variety of sledges about a batsmen’s technique, about his weight, or his hair.

    Maybe his name, or perhaps his running between wickets?

    If you decide to cross the Line, you will find…well, that depends. Sometimes, you find big send-offs as something that is crossing the line. Other times, personal sledges about a family member, or even coming into intentional contact is crossing the line.

    Really, whatever crosses the Line is up to the Australians. It constantly changes, and it always seems up to the Australian’s discretion to what crosses the Line.

    It seems that standing in the field all day, supported by ten other teammates, makes it perfectly okay to constantly taunt, abuse and attack one person, making fun of his name, running into a batsman’s face and screaming at him for running out his partner (something that would not actually be his fault), or calling him a “f**king sook”.

    That, remember, is all within the ‘spirit of the game’.

    But when said batsman, who has seen his partner and himself abused for the better part of three hours bites back and makes a comment about the abusers family, that is something that is “vile and disgusting”.

    And who decides what crosses the line? The Australians, of course!

    Sledging is an interesting dynamic. It has seemed to be a part of Australian cricket for many years, to try to put a batsman off his game and get inside his head.

    Go down to club cricket, and you will be able to hear the chirping from the boundary line. Australia, have just accepted it into their culture.

    There is this constant saying of “play hard, but play fair”, though this opens up a whole other can of worms. What is hard? Again, we are drawn back to the line.

    Now the South African cricketers have an interesting situation on their hands. They have seen how Warner reacted to De Kock’s comment, and for a nation that has so often been compared to that of Australia, do they take this sledging debate a step further?

    Will this be brought up again on the field? Warner is only one incident away from a suspension.

    Kagiso Rabada was told by the Australians that they were going to try to get him fired up enough to warrant a suspension from the ICC, so why not Warner?

    Kagiso Rabada takes wicket of Kane Williamson

    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    While many cricket commentators have lamented the fact that this saga dominated the headlines, when it should have been the cricket instead, these conversations need to be had.

    Quinton De Kock took abuse hurled at him, got called a sook, and when he finally bit back, Warner exploded and had to be held back by three teammates.

    And then, David Warner, Steve Smith and the rest of the Australian cricket team stood back, and with all their innocence and gentlemanly authority, mixed with the greatest hypocrisy that the world could see, told of the day that the Line had been crossed.

    How dare Quinton De Kock, hey?

    Rebuild announcement

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (43)

    • March 11th 2018 @ 3:20am
      DavSA said | March 11th 2018 @ 3:20am | ! Report

      These 2 teams have gone head to head for 20 years plus . Plenty said on field . Big buddies off . Warner and De Kock need to try understand that.

      • March 11th 2018 @ 3:42am
        ozinsa said | March 11th 2018 @ 3:42am | ! Report

        They both need to man up. Both sides exceeded the bounds of decency apparently. Nobody has the high ground. Given that, they should both STFU.

    • March 11th 2018 @ 5:41am
      Basil said | March 11th 2018 @ 5:41am | ! Report

      And who decides what crosses the line….?

      erm …the umpires + match referee?

      running into a batsman’s face and screaming at him for running out his partner…?
      erm …don’t think the running into the face actually happened…

      Fact is the Saffers aren’t exactly lily white themselves, many have form in regards to verbal and physical intimidation of opponents -most recently v the Bangles(the bullies!)

      There is no need to embellish, it makes your article less credible.

      • Roar Guru

        March 11th 2018 @ 1:19pm
        JamesH said | March 11th 2018 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

        Exactly. Isn’t it remarkable that the line generally seems to coincide with what the ICC believes is acceptable and what is worth a sanction?

        De Kock has form, he’s not some innocent victim in this. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing.

        It kinda feels like a bunch of Warner-haters already had these articles 90% written and were just waiting (~3 years, lol) for him to step out of line again so they could hit Ctrl+V.

        • March 11th 2018 @ 3:24pm
          Vic said | March 11th 2018 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

          The hypocrisy of the Australian cricket team when it comes to so called sledging is laughable. Firstly, it is a mostly Australian problem most other teams don’t sledge normally, believe it or not.
          Warner incessantly carried on about de Kock’s appendage and supposed other inadequacies (strange subject for a supposedly heterosexual male, but there you go). De Kock gave a one liner about SBW’ apoendage. Mrs Warner’s name, alleged behaviour or alleged love interests were not mentioned. Warner exploded. I can only surmise that Warner feels quite hard done by when thinking of SBW’s appendage. If he is so insecure that his wife’s past alleged relationships is a source of anger to him, I suggest therapy. If the appendage is the problem, I suggest surgery.
          At the moment he has a bigger problem on his hands – ball tampering

          • March 11th 2018 @ 6:10pm
            Mitcher said | March 11th 2018 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

            “most other teams don’t sledge normally, believe it or not.”

            Patently untrue.

            • March 12th 2018 @ 12:33am
              Ex force fan said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:33am | ! Report

              Look up sledging on Google and 95% will involve at least one Aussie player. Also what is more personal than to ask someone how is your wife and my kids….or every time I f$&$ your wife, she gives me a cookie. The Line does not exist. For me sledging is poor sportsmanship.

          • Roar Guru

            March 11th 2018 @ 10:43pm
            JamesH said | March 11th 2018 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

            Literally everything you just wrote is made up nonsense. Just pure fantasy. Unbelievable.

            I suppose all those other incidents where players get demerit points in matches not involving Australia are just misunderstandings, then? Poor fellas, being lumped in with Warner. Fancy that!

            The ball tampering allegation is a beat up, BTW. Warner has been playing with strapping on his hand for months because he’s carrying an injury.

    • March 11th 2018 @ 8:22am
      Basil said | March 11th 2018 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      Moderators, why are there two Basil’s on this site?

    • March 11th 2018 @ 8:46am
      Simon said | March 11th 2018 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      Yeah or how about don’t slut shame a woman who’s not even involved in the game? What De Kock said was horrific and some of the reaction to it in South Africa has been really reflective of a culture that does not hold women in high regard.
      So yeah, I think there is a line and I think it did get passed. It’s the same in a group of friends. You might rub someone for a rubbish haircut etc but when you include racism or sexism it’s usually a step too far, I don’t get how that’s been so hard for the media to fathom

      • March 11th 2018 @ 10:12am
        Jacko said | March 11th 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        Simon the SA press say Warner attacked QDKs family…QDKs sister has slammed Warner for his comments yet you believe Warner was just saying cricket stuff and NOTHING personal yet you believe QDK called Warners wife all sorts of things…because Warner said so…..You are turning up the volume when Warner speaks to a press reporter and turning it down to mute when anyone else is giving their side.
        It shows very clearly that ANY sledging should be banned. What offends 1 man may not offend another but who are you to decide what offends someone.
        Its verbal abuse and that should be banned

        • March 11th 2018 @ 11:57am
          Nudge said | March 11th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          QDKs has admitted guilt about his comments to Warner. Warner has not admitted guilt to saying anything about QDK’s sister. If Warner had said something about his sister, and refused to admit guilt like De Koch has, De Kock and South Africa would rightly be crying from the rafters.

        • March 11th 2018 @ 12:38pm
          Jake said | March 11th 2018 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

          Of course the SA press are going to say that.The Kock sister, well she wasn’t even there. How does she know what was said?
          De Kock has admitted to what he said. Is that not good enough for you? As Nudge said, if the South Africans actually believed Warner said those things they’d be whinging like kiwis.
          You’re either gullible or looking any reason to excuse the South African for abusing Warners wife.

          • March 11th 2018 @ 3:29pm
            Vic said | March 11th 2018 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

            The term “bush pig” is not known or used in SA. If it was reported, it was said by the Australians. And, having looked up the meaning, and it’s relation to women, it’s disgusting.

            • Roar Rookie

              March 12th 2018 @ 10:30am
              Pedro The Fisherman said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

              It normally means fat and ugly!
              Saved you some trouble as I know how hard reading is for you.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 12:36am
          Ex force fan said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:36am | ! Report

          Google sledging and you will see that there was never a “line”, anything goes. That is why it must stop.

      • March 11th 2018 @ 3:25pm
        Vic said | March 11th 2018 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

        What did de Kock say about Warner’s wife, please?

    • March 11th 2018 @ 9:36am
      sham said | March 11th 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      This subject has been almost flogged to death. There is no defined ‘line’ for those that say that there is then show me where this is shown in the laws of cricket. If it is ok to call someone an f…ing sook and it is ok to tell someone that they are effectively a fat heap is it ok to call Warner jockey-sized?

      We do not know exactly what was said to Warner and we do not know everything that Warner said to De Kock but to draw some imaginary line is absurd.

      So it is not ok according to some to involve family but what about a close friend? And how closely related do you have to be? How about a cousin is that ok? And why would it be ok to make highly personal comments about the fact that Warner is a very short, tiny man is that ok?

      In a previous post in another thread some objected to me describing Warner as jockey-sized. I got the response I wanted – it proved my point. No one really thinks that the line drawn by the Australians is really OK they are just using motivated reasoning. They support the Australian cricket team in a mindless way.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 12th 2018 @ 10:31am
        Pedro The Fisherman said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

        A cousin is not OK. They are family.
        Pretty simple really!

      • March 12th 2018 @ 6:24pm
        Leonard said | March 12th 2018 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

        About “is it ok to call Warner jockey-sized” – if that’s meant to imply jockeys’ courage is in proportion to their size, then let the moron who said that be strapped onto a fractious horse who’s then given a giddy-up and see how he feels.

        Pound-for-pound, jockeys face more danger of death every time they saddle up, more so than a tail-ender facing the fearsome Windies pace attacks in the 1980s.

        And if Warner (or anyone) gets upset at being called “jockey-sized”, maybe he or they should retire. Or point out that short guys make the best openers.

        (Yes, I know what it may refer to.)

    • March 11th 2018 @ 9:40am
      Arcturus said | March 11th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      Don’t care anymore. Sick of cricket. In no other sport do the protagonists behave so appallingly. Boycotting the game from now on.

      • March 11th 2018 @ 9:47am
        Josh said | March 11th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        Hahaha what are you talking about? There’s way more confrontation in all four of our football codes, it just doesn’t get blown up to the same proportions by media. You should probably stop reading about the game and just watch it, there’s a great test match going on

        • March 11th 2018 @ 9:53am
          Arcturus said | March 11th 2018 @ 9:53am | ! Report

          Footy code protagonists don’t stand around for hours verbally abusing each other. They’re too busy running, passing, getting into position what have you. Maybe I’m naive but we used to have cricketers we looked up to. Now they mostly seem a pack of A-holes. Hope you enjoy the game.

          • March 11th 2018 @ 11:27am
            Josh said | March 11th 2018 @ 11:27am | ! Report

            This team is the same bunch of blokes who were prepared to jeopardise their careers in order to get Sheffield Shield and female players and a fair pay deal last year. I’ve never looked up to an Australian team more

          • Roar Rookie

            March 12th 2018 @ 10:32am
            Pedro The Fisherman said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:32am | ! Report

            One word … Hopoate!

    , , , ,