Spare a thought for this bloke.
It’s not enough to put a couple of scapegoats on gardening leave. Cricket needs a paradigm shift. The culture is toxic and now is the opportunity to draw a line in the sand.
What transpired in Cape Town was a disgrace, which went against the laws of the game – and should have been against its spirit.
But this has been a nasty and spiteful series, dominated by a sledging culture, punctuated by physical clashes. And in a series where sportsmanship is already so low, to resort to cheating has been entirely within what the spirit of the game has become.
That needs to change.
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The warning signs have been present for ages.
The ‘ugly Australian’ term has been in use for many years. An unpleasant whiff of the sledge has been constantly in the air. But nothing’s been done; the spirit of the game has been allowed to deteriorate.
And eventually, inevitably, it blew up.
This nasty, win-at-all-costs mentality could have been nipped in the bud long before it got to this.
So what’s going to happen? The three central players have been given a holiday from the game for a while. But if that’s all that happens, it may treat a symptom, but not the disease.
With crisis comes opportunity. Here is a golden chance to repair the image of the game.
A chance to end the disrespect of opponents. A chance to end the sledging culture. A chance to present a likeable, friendly and sportsmanlike image to our national team, replacing the aggressive culture that has been prevalent for so long.
But it can’t come from one nation alone. The spirit of international cricket must be carried by all the nations that play it.
For years, there’s been bad blood between countries. There have been numerous incidents and the powers that be have been weak in dealing with it. Even during the current series, Kagiso Rabada was allowed to get away with a physical bump on an opponent.
But no more.
Cricket needs not just the MCC Laws, not just playing conditions for a series. It needs a code of conduct that is strictly enforced.
One where sledging is outlawed. One where ill-tempered outbursts are outlawed. One where players in the other team are treated as opponents, not enemies.
Now is the opportunity to change the game for the better. To restore the spirit of the game to that which was originally intended.
Are the cricketing authorities up for the challenge that this opportunity presents? Are they capable of restoring a spirit of sportsmanship to the game?