It was a slip of the tongue, but Ricky Ponting inadvertently summed up the mood as Andrew Symonds' family and mates, from the cricket…
It’s time for Cricket Australia to do something for the fans – because we are hurting. Ever since the Cape Town scandal, I’ve been dirty about cricket in general.
Not because I don’t love the game – far from it, I live for the game.
It’s because we’ve lost a part of our innocence, and the pride of the baggy green has been shattered. The media blowout, the comments on social media and just the continued disappointment deep down. It’s like a form of loss.
I don’t mean to heap more criticism on the players who made the terrible decision to tamper with the ball. They are young, talented and decent blokes – all of them. Let them have a second chance and let’s forgive them.
What the fans of the game need is a form of release.
We need to stoke the fire of pride and reconnect with everything that is beautiful about Australian cricket. Not just the old game, but the emerging one that is about fairness, inclusion and pride in the baggy green.
The game has changed forever, so why not embrace it and wrap this new spirit up into one filled with pride and emotion.
We need a big brand campaign that breaks fan tension and reminds us of why we love cricket. A campaign that lets us celebrate, but also helps us heal, move on, and look forward to the big summer ahead.
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So, stick with me here, what about building a campaign around ‘You’re the voice’ by John Farnham.
During the 2013-14 Ashes, I was lucky enough to be on a tour to Adelaide with 18 Poms and one other Australian (maybe unlucky?). The DJ at a packed pub put it on after Day 1 and the crowd went mad.
With replays on the big screens and the momentum the Aussies had in the series, many of us were in tears, just swept up in the moment. The feeling that nostalgia has a way of teasing out of you.
Here are the words and how I’d use them to build an emotive piece:
We have the chance, to turn the pages over (we have the chance to move forward, despite recent controversy and pain)
We can write what we want to write (we choose now)
We gotta make ends meet, before we get much older (we need to shake hands with our fellow competitors – to meet them on friendlier terms)
We’re all someone’s daughter (support women’s cricket – montage of great players)
We’re all someone’s son (The memory of Phil Hughes and the up and coming youngsters who are the future of our game)
How long can we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun? (Use the metaphor of looking down a raised cricket bat – flashback to great knocks, players, moments).
You’re the voice, try and understand it (I am cricket, you are cricket. It’s not one player – it’s an entire nation)
Make a noise and make it clear (let’s support our team and the beautiful game of cricket)
We’re not going to sit in silence (montage of great moments in Australian cricket)
We’re not going to live with fear
And so on…
Next time you listen to ‘You’re the voice’, have a think about how good it would be. If I had time, I’d knock out a teaser video but I need to knock out dinner.
Another thing to consider is distilling the ‘big issues’ into part of the campaign marketing mix. For now, let’s call it the three values of the baggy green:
We believe in a type of cricket that is competitive but fair. We respect our fellow players and do what we can to display sportsmanship at all times.
Cricket is a game for every brother and sister across our great land. We don’t discriminate against any form of gender, race or religion.
We hold the baggy green at the highest level. When you play for Australia, you represent the entire country, and all its sons and daughters, both present and past.
These values could be a new pledge all the players take at the start of the season and one that filters down to grassroots. It could be spoken by people of different ages, gender and backgrounds.
Bottom line is, I really hope Cricket Australia does something beyond a bland summer cricket campaign that is designed for sales with has zero emotion.
Let us release the tension and pain that has built up, from the loss of Phil Hughes, to the scandal that has rocked the baggy green.
Build an entire campaign that gives back to the fans and tells them CA is listening. Create something beautiful, memorable and emotional.
We need it now more than ever.