The Roar
The Roar


Aspirations versus reality: Cricket and our national culture wars

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30th November, 2018

The Australian cricket team will get belted this summer, but they’re sure to shake hands afterwards.

Rightly or wrongly, I’m told there was a problem with our team culture. That it was ‘inconsistent’ with our national identity and ‘didn’t reflect our common values’. We needed a paradigm shift. A realignment, if you will. But was this for real, or have we simply found another theatre for our national culture wars? The battle between our aspirations versus reality?

Wait, before we jump in, let me rewind a little. What do we mean by these nebulous terms – our ‘values’ and our ‘culture’? Our culture is, by definition, a literal melange of our customs, beliefs and social norms. And, from what I can tell, we like to project ourselves as your laid-back everyman. We’re irreverent. A knockabout bloke of a country – laconic and dry and with a disdain for authority. We’re an underdog, we’ll claim; a nation built on hard work and a fair go. Righto. Let’s take a closer look…

Firstly, are we really that laid-back and irreverent? Granted, we’re no Sweden or Canada, but political correctness has been full steam ahead, only outstripped by our willingness to find offence. Has anyone else been on social media lately, or on The Roar for that matter? And what even is a safe space? We’re a pack of precious petals seeking shade from the sun.

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But we’re an underdog, yeah? So we like a good scrap? Um, no. As a nation we’ve had the highest median wealth in the world for five consecutive years now. That sure doesn’t sound like disadvantage. Hands up if you’ve ever been to India or the Caribbean – now there’s a good scrap. Pakistan can’t even pay its players.

Okay, how about a fair go? Sitting in the top ten for wealth inequality, this one becomes a tough sell. Has anyone else been tracking the plight of those poor entitled sociopaths at the banking royal commission? Cheating is endemic. Exploitation is the norm.

Right. So what is this ‘Australian culture’ thing anyway? It turns out we’re a bit mouthy and a bit highly strung. From a position of great advantage we might all take ourselves too seriously. And to hell with the rules, we’ll take any advantage we can get.

If this is the case, then what was the problem with our team culture? Seems pretty consistent to me.