Australia back on the path to grateness

Anderson and Clarke

As the overdue underdog, and without the delicate spectre of racial tensions at play, Australia’s ‘unsociable cricket’ is enjoying an unfamiliar green light.

It was with some trepidation I devoured Morrissey’s recently released memoir. As suspected, the lyrical genius enhanced his reputation as a brilliant wordsmith, and sadly, as a dull aching narcissist.

Thoughts turned to crazed couch bouncing Tom Cruise.  One can compartmentalise sufficiently to still enjoy his Les Grossman turn in Tropic Thunder, can’t they?  Or in the case of Michael Jackson, his Billie Jean pop perfection remains listenable, despite all those sordid accusations and baby dangling idiocy, yeah?

So too in cricket (and all sport), for pleasure’s sake we occasionally face the hand wringing vexation of separating the ego from the performance.

Notwithstanding, in a team sport where taking sides is half the fun, there’s little choice. So in the interests of convenience and nationalistic fervour, we conjure and project virtuous traits upon those representing our tribe, our nation.

That loveable rogue Warnie, always been a scallywag hasn’t he!  And Glenn McGrath and Steve Waugh were just steely-eyed, hard-nosed competitors.

But if we were truly honest with ourselves, it would be somewhat hypocritical to bestow undying love on the at-times seriously unloved Clarke, Warner, Watson, Johnson and Haddin should they return the urn.

Coincidentally, bar Watson, the fallible five shone the brightest in the Gabbatoir slaughter of ye Olde Enemy.  As the line-up finally threatens to settle, it will be curious to see which players, if any, capture the public’s imagination or are deemed marketable commodities.

David or ‘Lloyd’ (as in Dumb and Dumber) Warner might have a way to go to restore the blind Twenty/20 love afforded when he first burst onto our screens.  However, if the runs continue to flow as freely as his irksome banter, perhaps ‘loveable rogue’ Warner will be widely lauded once more.

And likewise the gifted yet interminably flaky ‘Johnno’ and ‘Watto’, should they rediscover a consistency greater than clotted cream.

Clarke, through weight of runs and emergent weight of character, has already silenced all but his harshest detractors.  Bruce Francis aside, the skipper’s channelling of Aunty Jack – threatening untold pain on Jimmy Anderson’s effing arm – was by and large treated with a degree of mirth by anyone with a scintilla of testosterone circulating their body.

The Daily Telegraph cheerleaders have also taken their cue, seeking to emulate the worst of the British tabloids in granting Jonathon Trott a deplorable send-off. The Courier Mail’s jingoistic Broad crusade was just as maddening.

Besides the odd angry tweet directed at ‘smug looking Haddin’ and Johnson’s early profligacy, a buoyant ‘stick it up ‘em’ undertone has pervaded.

Under the old school Darren Lehmann’s watch, the revived unity and bullishness which helped wrest the impetus in Brisbane, combined with some peeved Poms, will see the envelope pushed further towards the red zone in Adelaide.  Like it or not, the ugly Australian is back, no longer resigned to meek defeat.  And in considering the Aussies’ golden eras of the modern age, for better or worse, playing nice is not how it rolls best.

To most average punters, who place winning above world peace, it hardly matters how or by whom the job is executed.  Though strangely it did not so long ago, when a domineering Australia’s belligerence reached its zenith in the infamous Sydney Test against India in 2008.

Ah yes, it’s all about circumstances.  Here we can hark back to Bodyline, among other heinous wrongs, to justify our means.

With a mandate to get mad and get even, the assertive Aussies’ oft maligned core may not steal hearts, but they just might pinch the Ashes.


About Jeff Dowsing

Washed up former Inside Sport and Sunday Age Sport freelancer. Now just giving my stuff away to good homes. Not to worry, still have my health and day job. Published & unpublished works fester on my blog Write Line Fever.


  1. Jeff, like you I don’t seem to be able to come down clearly on one side or the other on this one. The Tele and the Courier Mail are idiots, but they are a minority within the general media, and as they say ‘no one went broke underestimating the intelligence of the average punter.’ Rupert’s editors would prostitute their daughters for a 1% increase in circulation. And his British papers are 10x worse as Levison showed. A long jail stretch for Brooks and her toy boy Coulson might have a calming effect internationally. Here’s hoping.
    Any linkage of the sad Trott situation to Warner’s juvenile comments and on-field sledging is clearly nonsensical. These sort of problems run far deeper and longer.
    On the cricket field, I initially thought that Clarke was being ridiculous. When you are flogging the opposition I am in the ‘point to the scoreboard’ school.
    But there seems persuasive evidence that England and Anderson dished out plenty in their dominant years, and that they targeted the debutant Bailey in the Gabba Test. If that is the case, and only those who have been on the field would know, then good on Clarke for returning serve when the tables were turned.
    I don’t get the bagging of Clarke as a person, captain or cricketer. He doesn’t do the blokey stuff, but his actions with the bat and tactical nouse speak for themselves. More power to his arm.

  2. I don’t think that I will ever be able to laud “Watto” ever again. Just completely lost me.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Well put Jeff. More than happy with the extra aggro and aggression shown in the first Test if it produces performances like that. As long as it’s within the rules and not discrimatory.

    Great to finally meet you at the launch tonight.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Ditto Jeff and Luke give me extra aggression and energy and having a fair dinkum crack
    Anderson gives it and I think was shocked at how strong and united we were in coming back and let’s not forget those mikes are meant to be off
    Is it a new dawn for Australian cricket or just a false start ? Can the bowlers get thru after having to toil on the drop in crap deck here in , Adelaide those questions and more to be answered in a stupidly short time frame in the next few weeks
    Thanks Jeff

  5. Andrew Starkie says

    Great piece, Jeff. For what it’s worth, I think India behaved far worse than the Aussies in that series eg calling Symonds a monkey; time wasting in Sydney; refusing to get off the bus; Sachin lying at the disciplinary hearing etc.

    CA needs to be very careful with the image this team is creating. Warner is a deliberate choice to antagonise England. Send him out to pressers and watch journos wind him up.

    Can Australia win this series without playing dirty? Maybe not.

  6. Thanks all – and great to chew the fat with you last night Luke.

    Will we get too caught up in the byplay or will the Poms up the ante? It’ll be interesting Andrew to see whether the Aussies have the smarts and maturity to get back down to business and focus their aggression in the right way.

    At least we have Craig McDermott back in the fold to tell the bowlers to ‘pitch it up’, (as any U12’s coach would do).

  7. I am not usually one to bag the media, but I reckon the post-match reaction to the Clarke comment bordered on hysterical. It had me wondering if the reaction may have been a little more muted had it been the “warrior” S Waugh – rather than Clarke – making the “broken arm’ comment? It was interesting that the alleged comment of Anderson’s about punching Bailey in the face (which Clarke was supposedly reacting to) were washed over.
    I am of the belief that the whole incident was at the bottom end of the scale when it comes to on-field sledging.
    On a different, but related, issue: I have also been wondering whether cricket-watchers, such as myself, are in a constant state of reflection – looking back to previous eras and pining for the good old days?

  8. Incisive stuff Jeff. Since that 2008 India test, this generation has checked its natural instincts. For me, it’s got to be related to an ACB directive in the Ashes tour that followed that Test to reign in the teams ugly image. The boys seem to have been muted ever since. At Brisbane, they certainly broke the shackles, though, didn’t they? That was as performance that sledgers like Hayden and Warne would have been proud of.

  9. Thanks T Bone – I guess the thing about sledging and playing with a bold attitude is that it’s all very easy when you have the results and the team to back it up. Credit must go to Lehmann and Clarke for pulling the team together and having a proper crack, so far. Can we withstand the counterpunch?

  10. Bernard Whimpress says

    Good piece Jeff

    Call me old-fashioned (I even use hyphens for compound words) but I prefer sides to both win and lose with grace.

  11. DBalassone says

    Great to catch up with you last week JD. Now that Australia are in the box seat in this series, I will revert to the Morrissey theme here, and ask you where is the best place for me to start with his music? Which album? Period? Smiths? Bear in mind, I am almost a complete novice (I do like “There is a Light”). My favourite songwriters are guys like Dylan, Zevon, Mike Scott, Fogerty and (closer to home) Don Walker, but I’m ready to give Mozza a go!

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