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You can still be proud of the Australian cricket team

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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    ‘I do not want to watch cricket anymore.’

    ‘How can anyone be proud of our Australian cricket team?’

    ‘This incident is emblematic of a culture that has been festering in the Australian cricket team for some time now’.

    These are all statements that I have heard on repeated occasions this week.

    Like most Australians (and cricket-lovers), I have had a deeply personal reaction to the ball-tampering scandal which has been at the forefront of worldwide sporting conversation this week.

    New information is being uncovered every day, but what is clear is that there was a discussion between some members of the Australian men’s cricket team which resulted in Cameron Bancroft taking a sandpaper onto the field, using it to attempt to alter the ball and then putting the incriminating object down his pants. This footage was captured on camera and can only be described as one of the most amateur attempts at ball tampering I have ever seen.

    I am heartbroken for so many reasons.

    It’s saddening that no one had the courage to say ‘no, this is not a good idea’. I am disappointed that Bancroft, the 25-year-old man who had only played eight Tests for his country and was struggling to retain his position, was not in a place where he felt like he had another option.

    I’m also wondering how people within that team felt like they were under so much pressure to win, that they would resort to crossing the line.

    I am sad for Tim Paine who has been named 46th captain of the Australian men’s cricket team. This should be one of the greatest honours of Paine’s life, but will always be tainted by this ball-tampering scandal.

    I am concerned about the mental health of the players involved, particularly for Steve Smith who in the space of a week has gone from a national treasure to social pariah.

    Steve Smith

    Sport is tremendously powerful and has the capacity to bring people together in a way that nothing else can. In Australia we have a deep connection to sport and to an idea that Australians play hard but fair.

    Despite conduct from the Australian men’s cricket team which has danced very close to that line in recent years, this ball-tampering incident means that the word fair is no longer appropriate and the team has well and truly crossed the line. This stain on our international sporting reputation will take some time to repair.

    There have been millions of tweets, comments and conversations about this scandal since it broke, but one thing which has been lost in the conversation is the recognition that Australia has two national teams – the men’s team and the women’s team.

    This may seem like semantics to plenty of you, but during a time when women’s sport continues to go from strength to strength our language is supremely important, because language is still being used which makes our national women’s team invisible.

    The nuance was lost in the Australian Sports Commission’s statement in relation to ‘events concerning the Australian cricket team’. Another person that weighed in was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who said ‘it seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating’.

    While one national team has been accused of foul play and has its reputation under fire, another national team continues to perform admirably as I write this article on a tour of India. One national team has not been involved in foul play and does not deserve to be tainted by allegations surrounding the other.

    Kristen Beams Meg Lanning celebrate

    After successfully retaining the Ashes last summer, the Southern Stars have just defeated India in an ODI series whitewash. Highlights from the first game included a four-wicket haul from Jess Jonnassen and Nicole Bolton bringing up her fourth ODI hundred off 101 deliveries. Bolton finished that game unbeaten on 100 and found the boundary 12 times during her innings.

    In the second game, Bolton made 84 and then a 96-run partnership between Beth Mooney (56) and Ellyse Perry (70 not out) helped steer the Southern Stars to a series win.

    In the third game, Alyssa Healy managed her maiden international century and her 133 runs helped the visitors reach 7-332. This was the Southern Stars’ first ODI total above 300 since 2012 and their highest ever total against India.

    The Southern Stars are now competing in a T20 tri-series with India and England and after a win over India and a loss to England, Megan Schutt became the first Australian woman to claim a T20 hat-trick in the third game against India, booked the team a place in the final on 31 March.

    This is a team that has continued to play cricket admirably – with joy and in the spirit of the game and deserve to be celebrated.

    So for those of you who are disenfranchised with cricket at the moment, I encourage you to remember why you love the game so much. And if you are having trouble remembering, perhaps the Australian women’s cricket team will help remind you.

    Take pride in the efforts of Perry, who has not only represented Australia at a national level in cricket, but also in football. My favourite memory of Perry will always be the 213* which she scored in the first women’s day-night Test in the women’s Ashes last summer.

    Ellyse Perry celebrates a century

    Not only was it a magnificent performance with the bat, but I also always laugh when I remember her premature celebrations after she thought she had hit up a six to bring up that double ton, only for her to be denied by the ball bouncing within the boundary and prompting her to continue to bat, bringing up her double ton a couple of balls later.

    Be excited by a future which includes women like Ashleigh Gardener, Sophie Molineaux, Tahlia McGrath and Amanda-Jade Wellington.

    Laugh along with the antics of Megan Schutt, wonder about how good Alyssa Healy’s chirp behind the stumps is and be mesmerised by an exceptionally talented batter in Meg Lanning.

    The Australian men’s cricket team may be hurting and the moment and the whole country is hurting with them. But do not forget that we have two national teams and that our women’s team is a team which still deserves your admiration and support.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (57)

    • March 30th 2018 @ 5:28am
      Chris said | March 30th 2018 @ 5:28am | ! Report

      Mary, there is one question that bothers me about the Australian Crticket team. Can you honestly say that there has never been ball tampering in the past? Craig McDermott’s statement doesn’t convince me at all. The difference is that today there are so many umpires,officals and cameras at a match and they inevitably pick up any irregularity without much diffculty!

      • March 30th 2018 @ 5:56am
        Bamboo said | March 30th 2018 @ 5:56am | ! Report

        I doubt any ball tamperer of any nation waits until international honours to give it a crack for the first time.

      • Columnist

        March 30th 2018 @ 8:08am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | March 30th 2018 @ 8:08am | ! Report

        Chris, I cannot honestly say anything about. I have no idea. But I am truly devastated.

        • March 30th 2018 @ 3:03pm
          Chris said | March 30th 2018 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

          This has been going on for ages. Since time immemorial! I can even remember old Dennis Lillee messing around with the ball using his sweat and maybe a few creams and/or pink zinc to get that extra zip. No living Australian captain since Bill Lawry, Bob Simpson, Ian Chappell & Co. has publicly condemned this act. They are all hiding. Hence,the inference is that these guys got caught and didn’t do it discretely enough!

          • March 30th 2018 @ 4:23pm
            Bob Pacey said | March 30th 2018 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

            Steve Waugh has.

            Michael Clarke has.

            Ricky Ponting has.

            But apart from those, sure you’re right.

      • March 30th 2018 @ 12:27pm
        JVGO said | March 30th 2018 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

        Well if you are going to extrapolate that the men have been tampering with the ball forever you can just as easily extrapolate that the women’s team are just as likely to do it. They play with the same type of ball I believe. They come from the same country. The only difference is their gender. Let’s put 30 cameras on them and follow the fielders and bowlers for a few hours the way the Saffas did.

    • March 30th 2018 @ 6:13am
      Zane said | March 30th 2018 @ 6:13am | ! Report

      Just because Smith and Bancroft apologised to the nation doesn’t mean we are back to normal. Not in my book.
      We can forgive but not forget.
      They are still cheats and the stain on Australia as a cricketing nation will probably never wash away.

      • Columnist

        March 30th 2018 @ 8:10am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | March 30th 2018 @ 8:10am | ! Report

        Zane, I absolutely agree with that.

        But I respect them tremendously for coming out and speaking as openly as honestly as they did.

        • March 30th 2018 @ 10:05am
          Mick Gold Coast QLD said | March 30th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

          … one week later, after they were caught.

          This was not a spontaneous action by naive amateurs. These galahs are millionaires who treat the dollars as applause, they will have discussed their cunning plan for days prior to the event and convinced themselves of their cleverness.

          This speaks far more accurately of their mindset than does lining up later to cry for mummy when they got found out. That does not signify honesty, candour or courage.

          They have the innate skill, grand training facilities, exceptional professional assistants, superb recovery regimes, the best seats on the plane, a mountain of money and a proud legacy presented to them by their predecessors. Not any more – it is now looking a bit scuffed and bedraggled after their indifference to its value.

          They even have professional “media managers” to prepare their groveling excuses and victim-hood statements for other media to gasp and OMG and tear up over, as they all set about the next phase together, of rehabilitating their image – their image – in preparation for another crack.

          These blokes deserve no respect for what they have chosen to do.

        • March 30th 2018 @ 3:26pm
          Blue said | March 30th 2018 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

          Did they have a choice? No.

    • March 30th 2018 @ 6:20am
      Chris said | March 30th 2018 @ 6:20am | ! Report

      Has any former Australian Cricket captain come out to criticise or condemn Smith’s actions? The silent ones, I dare say, have done the same thing when they were playing…

      • March 30th 2018 @ 6:50am
        Duncan Smith said | March 30th 2018 @ 6:50am | ! Report

        It’s probably because they have more class than to join in the mass pile-on that has happened this week.

      • March 30th 2018 @ 10:14am
        George said | March 30th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Off the top of my head, Waugh and Clarke and Ponting.

    • March 30th 2018 @ 6:52am
      Duncan Smith said | March 30th 2018 @ 6:52am | ! Report

      As long as they play like “gentlemen.” The girls would never sledge, would they Mary? Hope not!

      • Columnist

        March 31st 2018 @ 9:02am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | March 31st 2018 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        Duncan, if you listen to female cricketers interviewed, sledging is often a topic that comes up. Sledging is also part of the women’s game but apparently not to the same extent that it happens in the men’s game. Men and women play the game differently – it’s clear when you watch it on television. The game is not the same.

    • March 30th 2018 @ 7:29am
      Yawn said | March 30th 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      What a passive-aggressive article. If it wasn’t for the Men’s cricket team, there would be no womens cricket team.

      • March 31st 2018 @ 4:17pm
        Ben said | March 31st 2018 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

        Amen to that! Why are our most privileged, also our most ungrateful.

    • March 30th 2018 @ 7:41am
      Pete said | March 30th 2018 @ 7:41am | ! Report

      “Australia play hard but fair.” That is simply untrue and the last week has just amplified how incorrect that phrase is.

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