Brand Bland – Why is the Australian cricket team unpopular?

Was it just me, or were you increasingly aggrieved by those merciless TV ads as the summer of Ashes discontent dragged on? You know the one’s – Vodafone, VB, the bloody Colonel.

Over after over. Session after session. Day after day.

While a guest spot on The Gruen Transfer is perhaps beyond my capabilities, my brand research appraisal would decree this season’s advertisements, collectively, as “shit”.

They are hardly worthy of Superbowl-unveiling status, though the marketeers probably think so.

Clarkey’s “dongle”. Ricky’s multivitamins. Mitchell Johnson sporting Santa hat, tattooed and topless. Shane Watson tonking nanna over the fence.

Previously we’ve had M.Clarke catching a tennis ball – in his jocks. Andrew Symonds showering in a car wash. Watto tweeting Brett Lee re “pony with pads on”. And M.Johnson continues to espouse the amount of Gatorade required each day (heaps, incidentally, if the other mob are making 600 regularly – er sorry Mitch).

It seems a long way removed from AB and Thommo flashing a glance at a bikini-clad beauty while sharing an icy cold XXXX on the beach. Or DK Lillee flogging us carpet and upholsteries.

All harmless advertorial shtick – if you’re winning. But when unpopular, and losing (read: having your ass handed to you), these ads become yet another sharpening stone for the knives of national embarrassment. Knives currently being plunged into the first XI, and beyond.

These sponsor-fed annoyances, trivial as they may be, are only one aspect of why the national cricket side, and their popularity, is currently on the nose. This peculiar under-current has been brewing a number of seasons.

In the wake of the recent Ashes humiliation, the obvious retort is that a few wins, or at least some gutsy efforts would solve all the problems. Yet I’m not sure it’s that straight-forward with our current lot.

So why is there a general lack of affection for, or rapid-fire willingness to bake the Australian cricket team?

Has the general marketing of the sport, including the overt sponsor-led rubbish, contributed to this malaise? Is it another of the many balls Cricket Australia has dropped of late? Or is it more explained by the current set of particular personalities?

In recent years, much of our enthusiasm has seemed forced or feigned. With ground announcers now blasting our ear drums (that’s you, Schebeckster), enthusiastically introducing the “Australian Cricket Team”, there seems more a duty-bound golf-clap response, than the genuine earthy roar of a home side breaking through a footy banner.  The kids in Bay 13 will always make some noise, but that’s a rite of passage when you’re a sixteen year old misfit with a hipflask and a fake ID.

Is there a certain “elitism” still attached to the national cricketers? That they are “up themselves”, or that “cricketers are wankers?”. Do their robotically scripted interview responses grate us?  More genuine noises have come from the camp in recent days, albeit too late. Just quietly, I still declare that Ricky Ponting is deceiving us all – there’s been an uncanny negative correlation with the improvement of his hairline and the side’s fortunes. Like many before him, perhaps a follicular sponsorship stream will fund Ricky’s retirement kitty.

Are Australian cricketers more prone to the microscope with just eleven of them at any one time, as opposed to over six-hundred AFL /NRL footballers running around any given weekend? It’s a whole country of vindictive fingers, not just club allegiance fingers, pointed at fewer identities.

Do we want our hero’s to be of a “bloke’s bloke” mould? Are we lacking players with a bit of genuine mongrel? Is this all Shane Watson’s fault? Is Michael Clarke’s “extravagant lifestyle”, at least the publicised one, and ex-girlfriend, still symbolically annoying us?

Indeed, in this progressively glamour-page tabloid universe, does the presence of the WAGS irritate us? Isolated, dolled-up and aloof in V.Beckham mould, perched in the grandstand equivalent of the velvet roped-off VIP room.

Not to mention, the blokes themselves. Pre-Ashes, a select group modelled with Zoolander panache in Sport and Style magazine. Does the whole “man-scaping” routine not wash with the typical cricket audience?  When an athlete sports an arm of ink, do they have to back it up? Do we just want our blokes scoring runs and taking wickets, and maybe sporting a ‘tache here or there – and not just during Movember?

Is it the team’s actual on-field inconsistency that frustrates us most? Does our dissatisfaction with the selectors, coaches, or Cricket Australia itself, filter down to hurting the popularity and likeability of the players – despite the majority of them probably ticking the “good bloke” box.

Does fall-out remain from CA wiping the metaphorical backside of Lord Lalit and co. in the Andrew Symonds saga? And the seeming priority to respect the almighty rupee? Among this burgeoning Indian influence, do we sub-consciously begrudge the ridiculous IPL salaries on offer – for a meaningless six week hit and giggle, while our Test side, the beacon of our game and our history, continues to suffer.

Do we think the current lot are just not worthy of wearing the baggy green? Or that the older players should “do the right thing” and move aside as we yearn for something new? At a time when the first XI does not pick itself, do we want all the national representatives proving their worthiness at Shield level among the other hopefuls?

The team’s churlish behaviour of recent years is doubtlessly a contributor. From Watson’s giddy school-girl reaction over Chris Gayle’s wicket; to the brouhaha with any sub-continent team; the skipper’s growing tempestuousness in the field; and the notorious sledging of yesteryear. When you’re being belted, admittedly it’s a fine line between being aggressive and “getting up them”, or looking the fool for doing so when you’re on the canvas.

Are they then on a hiding to nothing, Matthew Knights-style, following the end of a golden era? As supporters, we’ve had our two decade umbilical cord of success savagely cut. Are we expecting too much?

Is it because we no longer have a cult hero, or genuine superstar, or more importantly, a superstar with the “people’s touch?”. As a regular viewer of World Series Classics on Foxtel, not only is it the best cricket I’ve seen this Summer, but it highlights the lack of characters in the current game.

In the opposition camp, Graeme Swann proves that an actual sense of humour, and characters, can still exist in professional sport. In an otherwise boring world of spin-doctored meaningless media grabs, I certainly don’t begrudge him leading the sprinkler dance, spruiking “today was hangover day”, or churning out Tony Greig impersonations that would put Billy Birmingham to shame.

Further to, is it that we don’t feverishly dislike the current set of Poms to fervently get behind our blokes? As much as the Barmy Army may progressively annoy, do the English players have to be that real bunch of “Pommy bastards” to elicit unconditional zealous support for our own team?

It’s easy to cast K.Pietersen as the arrogant villain, Collingwood a pest on name alone, and Jimmy Anderson a surly sulk. But the rest of them, from the skipper down, are remarkably inoffensive (or South African). As much as it pains to say, we probably like a few of their blokes more than ours. And for the ladies, I’m sure they now reserve a special place for Chris Tremlett – he of comic book super hero jaw-line, and build, I presume carving as much success off-field as on.

Maybe it is all about winning, consistency, and showing some fight, but when you’re on the receiving end, and the sporting landscape around you is changing, how do you market your charges, or let them be marketed, appropriately? I wish I knew (perhaps don’t let them look like tools is a start), but those entrusted with the task don’t seem to know either.

It adds to Cricket Australia’s growling list of unaddressed failures, borne from the widespread belief that in many departments, their head’s been in the sand far too long.

At the very least, with CA’s major Test sponsor Vodafone proving its internet security protocols are as savvy as their TV ads, let’s hope our blokes are painted in a better light in future. For while the game needs its characters, I do hope to see much less of Doug Bollinger seductively gyrating to the Golden Girls theme next year.


  1. DD – so many (intelligent) questions. I used to get really annoyed when people said that they wished test cricket was closer and that the Poms could make a game of it (this is after we beat them 5-0). I love crushing the Poms like I love crushing a cockroach. Alas the wheel has turned and now we cop a belting and what happens? – everyone wants the Aussie dominance restored!! 4 billion words, mostly melancholy, have been written about our demise. Maybe next time we give them a good cricketing spanking we’ll enjoy the result and stop wishing for anything else.

  2. John Butler says

    DD, those ground announcers. Don’t get me started….

    Feigned enthusiasm sums it up. If you have to work that hard to enthuse people, you’re already stuffed.

  3. Happy New Year from up in the high, dry, cricket free Phantom cave.

    Good comment DD,

    but I am sorely vexed that the loss of a sporting series has apparently put a dagger into the heart of the nation.

    Actually I don’t give a toss about it. It’s over. We lost and the Poms won. Good on them. It was their turn.

    The reaction to the capability of a small group of privileged “elite” sports people by a cohort of easliy led bleeting sheep (baaaa!) is a clear indication that we are still an unsophisticated nation of morons. We have a long way to go before we grow up.

    We have no right to complain. We demand crap from the media and they give it to us. It is our own fault. Most of our politicials and their camp following are self sustaining ‘intellectual crooks’. I can’t ever remember a debate in question time about the long term adverse effect on the nation by politicians, et al, dumbing downall communication with the people.

    I wonder if the performance of the nation’s cricket team was at the forefront of the minds of people shivering on the rooves of houses below the Toowoomba escarpment last night?

    It will only be a matter of time before the media and party politicians start blaming some one else for the flash flood in Toowoomba for personal gain and we will all be swept away with it.

  4. Andrew Fithall says

    Observation on (test) cricket attendance in the members at the MCG.

    On Boxing Day, the MCC didn’t pre-sell any guest passes. This means that in one third of the ground, there was not one person under the age of 15. Not a good idea to deliberately exclude young people from test cricket. Many families would have not attended the game because only members were admitted. Too late, the MCC realised their error and announced during the first session that members could now purchase up to four passes. Also, having announced days earlier that all guest passes for days two and three were sold out, they again made them available for purchase.
    The MCC’s response to the smaller than predicted Boxing Day attendance was to suggest that in future members may have to indicate prior to the event whether or not they are going to attend. My suggestion is that they free up their pre-selling of guest passes and warn members that people arriving later risk not being admitted or perhaps not being able to get a seat.

    The MCC’s wariness stems back to that Friday evening in September 2007 when a larger than anticipated crowd attended the Collingwood / Geelong preliminary final. They are trying to avoid the chaos that ensued, but since then have consistently over-compensated.

    Helen and I attended day 2 of the test. As regular football attendees, we both noticed the stark contrast in gender mix compared to the winter game. Cricket has a lot to do to sell itself to the female half of the population. And again, the scarcity of guest passes meant that young people were under-represented.

  5. Phantom – very robust comment. I’m particularly in agreement with your view that the media give us what we demand. How many pages of crap will we have to put up with when that Pommy royal git marries his commoner girlfriend. Think I might go to Afghanistan to avoid it all.

  6. You should be in the Apple Isle at the moment Dips.

    We are collectively all extended family of the new Danish twins.

    That will keep the punters busy for a week or two.

    (What Pommy royal git? What wedding? Big ears isn’t going to make the rotweiler an honest woman is he?)

  7. Good article.

    Not sure that winning will make crep ads good though. Remember Mark Waugh in those nizoral ads?

  8. Dave,
    During the recent Victoria v Queensland 20/20 game, my family and I had the misfortune to witness on the big screen the worst commercial we have seen (a big statement, I know!). Said commercial featured Colonel Sanders, Doug Bollinger and a group of young females doing the “Chicken Dance”. D Bollinger did look slightly embarrassed. After the first viewing, my eldest son just looked at me and stared in disbelief, trying to comprehend what we had just seen. And to cap it all off, large sections of the crowd clapped along (“clap-clap-clap-clap”).

  9. 4. Andrew, the MCC must review its entire approach in regards to entry and guest ticket allocations for big events.
    I was initially very sceptical the Members’ area would be filled entirely by members on Boxing Day, and my suspicions were borne out. I attended on Day 2 with a large number of friends: some who are members, some who are not. All of the members in our group had pre-purchased their maximum two guest tickets, which meant that we had a few friends who missed out.
    An announcement (again) during the first session that members could now buy 4 tickets was virtually meaningless.

  10. Pamela Sherpa says

    Like many, I find the ads a turn off. The fried chicken ads are enough to make me never want to eat the stuff. I object to the blatent advertising of alcohol at sporting events. The younger generation are being brainwashed into assuming that sport and alcohol are inseparable.
    When I go to a sporting event I go to watch the on field action so make a point of sitting in a no alcohol section. I can’t stand being surrounded by drunks who care more about having an excuse to drink and abuse others than watch what is going on during the match.
    Perhaps this is one of the resaons female fans are in decline at the cricket. Footy fans tend to be much more interested in watching the game. The season of summer no doubt is more condusive to drinking.

    The biggest turn off for me, regarding the cricket team itself over the years has been the churlish behaviour as you mentioned and the bad sportsmanship displayed. The fact that no-one has pulled the team into line regarding this is a failure of leadership in my view. Sadly, our team is confused about what competitiveness is.

    I don’t think we demand crap from the media We just have it shoved down our throats without choice. Maybe we don’t object to it enough.
    How often do people actually write to TV networks and complain about things? Perhaps we are all too busy doing more important things.

  11. The hard core pushing of betting, akin to heroine dealing, during the game (here’s the latest odds folks, get your bets on now) is a disgrace.

  12. Apart from the silly comment about Paul Collingwood this was a very good piece DD. One could go on for hours about the changed conditions for watching both football and cricket and I suspect most people would dismiss my comments as signs of becoming a grumpy old man. BUT

    The constant screaming on the MCG scoreboard is a major obstacle to a pleasant day at the cricket or the football and the high volume inanities of the announcers are actually more annoying than the ads. They inhibit conversation before the game and at Lunch/Half Time. They discourage individual crowd participation.

    The English overcome this with group singing. We may not like some of the Barmy Army’s songs but you have to admire their participation and because it is a 50-100 strong choir it can compete with the screaming scoreboard. Australian particpation has always been the lone voice interjecting comments – the classic was Yabba at the SCG, but I have also heard really clever comments at Victoria Park, Princes Park, Kardinia Park even on rare occasions at Moorabbin. You don’t hear clever comments at the MCG or Docklands, no matter who is playing, because you can’t hear the lone haranguer over the constant noise pollution of the scoreboard.

    As for the players themselves, it is all too easy to compare the nice blokes of the past with the poorly behaved current team, but two things need to be kept in mind. It is always easier to be nice when you are winning and also badly behaved young men can often grow up to be well behaved and wiser older men. After all, amongst the people that you are watching on WSC flashbacks, DD, are, Dennis Lillee, who made a fool of himself over the aluminium bat and tried to kick Miandad, Jeff Thompson who was a much liked player till he opened his mouth, Boon and Marsh who set drinking records on planes, Greg Chappell, who told his brother to bowl underarm and tended to be as bigger sook as Nick Reiwoldt when things weren’t going his way, Terry Alderman, who along with others accepted large numbers of Krugerrands to scab on the South African boycott, etc.etc. The point is that all of these blokes were superb cricketers and we loved to watch them. Furthermore most of them became intelligent, perceptive and likeable commentators on the game after they retired (in Thommo’s case we might leave it at likeable)

    Shabe Warne is already becoming more respected since he started commentating and no doubt we will change our minds about Ponting and Clarke in a few years also.

  13. Is it true that Denis Lillee’s favoutite Kiwi cricket ground was Whikickapakki?

  14. David Downer says

    Thanks for all the responses guys.
    Dips, on this particular occasion , I think I would have preferred the series a bit closer! Although, this would result in even greater delusion from the authorities as to our current standing.
    JB, I sat there shivering at the MCG on day 2 and was praying that Schebecki, Sherry and co would just shut the hell up. Stop bloody screaming at us.
    Phanto, that’s a very Germaine Greer response re us being an “unsophisticated nation of morons”. I’d be interested to know which nations are tracking higher on Phantom’s international maturity scale, and if they are indeed more enjoyable places to live …and don’t say “everywhere else!”.  I do agree with you that the continual pushing of live odds updates during the game is, as the kids would say, a “massive fail” …and returning to topic, so are those M.Vaughan Betfair ads. Those who wish to bet on a sport that does not inherently exist for betting, don’t require a needle to do so. Again, it’s all advertising $$$ obviously.
    AF, I still have six or seven years remaining on the MCC waiting list …I hope “things are sorted” by that time.
    Smokie, your description of the D.Bollinger chicken dance and crowd reaction was just too vivid, I can now experience its pain without ever having to see it!
    Pamela, agree re the pathetic chook ads – they are even rubbishing their own product, surely. Ditto Vodafone – who were previously England’s sponsor …gee have they now backed the wrong horse?? I can’t preach with Ned Flanders godliness re the ills of sport and alcohol, I do enjoy having a drink at the footy and cricket, but it’s not why I’m there, and can go without.  The churlish team behaviour we’ve mentioned would be for many, the no.1 reason that rankles most.
    Dave N – you make some good points (despite your silly comment, and misspelling, of Nick Riewoldt). Ditto re ground announcers and witty crowd banter. Past cricketer skeletons aside, on match-day itself the crowd got right behind them and they put bums on seats – I’m just bemoaning that right at this minute, we don’t have that – I realise that is a somewhat spoilt-brat response. We are all hoping the current crop of blokes can actually turn that around …and preferably while their still plying their trade in the middle.

  15. DD,

    I am just heading off to the orthopedic surgeon after the first two weeks of leg in plaster from a torn aaaarrrrrchillies tendon.

    I probably woke up feeling a little grumpy this morning (and not because I slept with the seven D’s.)

    I stand by the statement though. If we collectively put up with it then we are a nation of morons. (Generally, but not you and me and all the Collingwood supporters, of course.)

    The pollies and the mass media have worked that out. We know that because they treat us with such contempt. Isn’t this what this bit is all about.

    I did hear once that there are about 30 million class A interlectuals dispersed throughout the USA. But they just don’t have the biomass to count amongst the other three hundred million plus. They are probably in Sarah’s sights all the same.

    Just a thought.

  16. Phantom – God save us from intellectuals!

  17. Nice DD. I agree with hating Collingwood on principle, don’t take the singular ‘tsk-tsk’ with too much salt.

    It seems the Australian cricket team is now on a par with Lleyton Hewitt. We only like them when they are winning…

    That will be my entry in the mixed (sports) metaphor comp for this year.

    Is it strange that Hussey and perhaps Haddin are the only two to come through the summer enhanced when both were under slightly more pressure than most in the current team? Of course these are observations from afar.

  18. Lovely work DD.

    A very engaging piece, albeit lacking the trademark references to your Lenny Hayes bromance and/or your multi-skilled canine, Cuba. As an aside, there have been some very good dog-based commercials over the years.

    For me, your piece touches upon an interesting dilemma. We want our most cherished sports to attract the best sports-people and be the most professionally administered, yet we (me included) lament that there are sponsors that need to be appeased to enable this.

    In saying that, I agree that there is a lot more Blue Steel than Blue Heeler about the much-maligned Australian cricket team at the minute.

    That is all

  19. The ad that really said it all for me was the Vodaphone ad where S Watson tonks the Grandma for a six. I shudder to think that the idea passed the first draft. Let alone that it was costed and produced and that so many decision makers along its way to our screens green lighted it rather than barfed. It’s VB funny. It alpha-male funny. It’s I wanna stay dumb funny.

    However the ad itself pales compared to one image right at the end of the ad. After Watson tonks the ball the ad cuts to the reaction of a few of the Aust team, including R Ponting. Apart from the dreadful acting (grinning and pointing and pushing each other in a matey way) there is a meaning that lingers and for me leaves a very bad taste. It is that of the captain of an Australian national side participating in a joke mocking an old lady. Being one of the lads rather than their leader. A leader wouldn’t have allowed such a dumb stunt to take place.

    There are layers of meaning this one image reinforces about gender that society has spent the better part of 40 years trying to rise above. It does not put our national side in the best light. And in the middle of it all, grinning, is R Ponting, captain. That they lost the Ashes so conclusively just reinforce how inappropriate the ‘joke’ is.

    And all for some coin and some attention.


  20. Dave, I think you’ve caught something here, as the comments would suggest, on so many elements of the crazy summer. Your observation that Cricket Australia has fallen into the trap of being an enterprise and is losing touch with its essence is well-illustrated in many ways in your examples. The ads were just as intrusive at the ground. I am never buying a box of nuggets from the golden arches ($2.95), and it will take me years before I can see a sight screen without thinking of chicken. The Style and Sport dimension is also cringe-worthy – the AFL is also being seduced by it. The sad thing is that a certain broadsheet newspaper has fallen for it as well.

    On that XXXX ad, it was much-loved in Qld, because in those days there was a sort of state beer loyalty (still is to a degree). It tapped in to Queenslanders (blokes?)sense of themselves.

    I quoted it in The Pearl to illustrate notions of Qld identity

    Fish are jumpin’, waves are pumpin’
    Steak is sizzlin’, this is livin’
    And ocean as blue as the sky up above us
    We love it up here.
    We don’t just lik it: We love it (shout)
    The people, th eplaces, the mates, the faces
    The XXXX mate
    We love it up here.

    Thanks for the piece Dave.

  21. Another piece of poetry from that era John, (although celebrating rugby league), that is often sung/slurred at regatherings of my social circle.

    Whether you’re on the Cricket Ground
    Lang Park or the bush
    You still gotta run
    You still gotta tackle
    And the scrums have got the same push

    The final grunt representing the coming together of the opposing front rows and of course referring to a time when RL scrums were contested. Perhaps this could also be used, (metaphorically), for the rebuilding effort after the floods now affecting 80% of Qld?

    Maybe the biggest problem with CA is they are no longer sponsored by beer companies?

  22. Cricket Australia have forgotten (or willfully ignored) the key notion: it is our game, not their game.

  23. Any chance we can have every single person involved with MCG noise pollution, general GBH of the earholes and especially the hideous ‘Voice of the G’ clapped in stocks and pelted with rancid food stuffs.

  24. Tony, you are reading the mood well. It has been a consistent discourse of the frustrated this summer.

  25. John, speaking of moods. Mine was not improved upon reading this recent survey about how plans are afoot to generate interest in next summer’s expanded Big Bash:

    Team A

    This team will welcome the whole community of Victorian cricket fans, but it will, in particular, represent those areas that have historically been less affluent and are now undergoing an economic and cultural renewal.

    Historically, these communities do not come from well-established cricket traditions – footy and soccer are generally their sports of choice – but the time has come to forge their own cricket team playing on the national stage. The new team will reflect the dynamism and energy of the people living in those areas of Melbourne and Victoria.

    Fresh, multicultural, gutsy and hungry for success, nothing will stop it. The new team will be cricket’s new kid on the block. It will be the future of cricket!

    Prospective names: Blitz, Renegades, Slam, Lightning, Crushers, Destroyers, Rampage, Rumble.

    Team B

    This team will welcome the whole community of Victorian cricket fans, but it will, in particular, represent the community of fans who have cricket in their blood having played and watched it since they were kids.

    This team will be inspired by the talent and style found in the most prestigious cricketing traditions, reinterpreted through the fast pace and irreverence of the Twenty20 format.

    Dashing and talented, this new team will be the shining light in the new Big Bash League!

    Prospective names: Hammer, Mercury, Majors, Maxx, Dukes, Guns.

    Lame, cringe-worthy and probably racist.

  26. Nice work, DeeD. The ad where Nanna bowls to Twatto drives me insane. Firstly Nanna does dismiss Twatto because he hits in twice. Secondly the Aussie players laughing at Nanna come across as arrogant toss bags and/or complete bullies.

  27. David Downer says

    Phanto, I see where you’re coming from (re collectively swallowing the tabloid garbage we are fed …not so much the plastered leg experience). Not certain we’re any better or worse than other nations on that score, at least in the West.
    Gus, cheers good sir. I trust you had the good fortune of not being subjected to the glut of CA-approved sponsorship drivel over there in the Emirate. Though, I’m not sure if the Al-Jazeera variety would be preferable.
    Arma, owing to virally-distributed imagery pre-Christmas, I’m currently hesitant to use the word “bromance” and “St Kilda” in the same paragraph. Cuba has been chasing old cricket balls with relish at Mordialloc High of late – his fangs now sporting a leathery red hue. Resultant teeth marks on the cherry would constitute ball tampering of the highest order.
    Rick K and Leach – obviously the Watto ad hit a nerve, I hadn’t dissected it to that degree. Great call Leach in that Nanna has actually dismissed Watson! I believe it relates to Law 34.1(a) Hitting the Ball twice.
    Tony – surely you jest re that survey?!?
    Harmsy – thanks for the kind words. And as events continue unfolding up north, an obvious god-speed to your fellow Queenslanders.
    Perhaps an appropriate cue to re-visit some patented Maroons nostalgia via the XXXX ad of yesteryear, here’s the link…

  28. #25 Team A sounds like Collingwood..
    Team B sounds like a tribe of cross dressers and perhaps Sam Newman

  29. The thing that is so intrusive about the advertising is that it now happens between deliveries, not just at the end of overs as has been the case since Channel Nine started its telecasts in the late ’70s. It’s even more infuriating than the cross-promotions they were doing five or so years ago, when the likes of Richie Benaud were forced to espouse the worth of upcoming shows while play was occurring.

    (It’s quite funny though to know that for all KFC’s blanket advertising, you still can’t buy the stuff at the MCG or bring it into the venue).

    As for the lack of affinity for the players – they’re in a bit of a Catch 22. They get lambasted for being pretty boys and SNAGS, yet would be condemned to high heaven should they ever get up to Fevola-esque shenanigans. The great advantage that the players of yesteryear had was that if they played up, then it would only become public through unreliable memory and myth.

    Think back to the stories of previous Ashes tours – Boon’s 52 can flight, K.Hughes and Lillee wrestling each other’s clothes off in anger in ’81, Brendan Julien shagging half of the UK in ’93. They occurred at a time when there was a small press pack who not only followed the players, but often stayed, drank and ate with them too. No iPhones, Twitter accounts, digital cameras or even the internet to get them into trouble. Not only did players get away with more, but when it did get mentioned it was by their teammates and compatriots – boys could be boys and have legends (rather than scandals) develop around them.

    Part of cricket’s attraction too is the ‘every man’ appeal that the players used to have. Border was grumpy and tenacious, Boon looked like a keg on legs, Merv Hughes was a failed footballer from Werribee who could toil all day. They were still only semi-professional and lived like the people who followed them. Unlike Mitchell Johnson, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson etc, they were ugly looking men who were described as cricketers rather than ‘athletes’ – a word that for many has, I reckon, taken on a cynical and unwanted meaning.

  30. As Tony as already posted…tomorrow night at the MCG we’ll see the KFC “World’s Biggest Ever Chicken Dance”. Cock-a-doodle-do…

  31. Question: Why do Australian wines now come with a screw top?
    Answer: There isn’t a decent opener in Australia.

  32. David Downer says

    Chris, some good reading there, thanks. You’re on to something regarding the ‘every man’ appeal. And B.Julian – the ultimate “Crick-tiki” tourist …I almost gave him a mention alongside the C.Tremlett reference.

    Leach – although KFC is all over cricket, does the Red Rooster outlet still remain in the MCC? The Colonel not so clucky re that.

    And here’s one more reason, reincarnated last night, as to why the Aussie cricket side’s popularity has waned recently: The Brett Lee post-wicket celebration.

  33. Yep. Downstairs opposite the Bullring there’s a Red Rooster. Must remember to purchase up big next time I’m at the ‘G just to rub it in to the Colonel.

    Saw the Twatto ad again last night. Makes me want to chuck a brick through the plasma that ad. Sure – it’s my housemate’s TV so no harm done if I do.

    I truly believe ads like that turn kids off the game of cricket. Let’s say your a kid who likes playing cricket but you’re no superstar. You turn on the TV and see someone bowl a lollipop that gets smashed and the bully kids poke fun at the person who’s out there having go despite the fact that they’re not that good. Just a horrible message.

  34. DD Fortunately we in the glittering capital of the Emirates do not get the between over breaks. However, the viral between ball calls to bet, despite us being a non-gambling state, (unless you count driving on the roads here), come through un-touched. We can also purchase a variety of memoribila/memrabilia/errm stuff? or momrobolia if Tony Greig is spruiking. So ‘spared’ by degrees only.

    The between over ‘commentary’ is usually off-mike mumblings followed by raucous laughter by one of either Healy or Slater. What generates this laughter is rarely clear, or discussed on-air, although does explain some of those weird moments of uncomfort that occur. Uncomfort is an adjnoun I have just invented, along with a new form of grammer.

    Good to hear Cuba is putting in the hard yards on the pre-season track. I had a cattle/bull terrier X who was a skilled ball handler. Loved the tennis ball. Although, if she was inside the court, made rallies difficult as she could leap about 5ft high and had terrific eye-mouth coordination. Anything on her line and within range was plucked like a sparrow flying through a slips cordon. Another mixed metaphor, (or technically simile), competition entry! Great fitness for her, but a game did require her presence outside the fence, which was only just high enough to keep her out. She did wear a track along the length from service line to service line as she chased the flight with eager eyes, lolling tongue and wagging tail of joy.

    I tried to get on to the naming the cricket team site to suggest the Victorian “Roast”. It goes hand in wing with the sponsor, makes no sense, is ridiculous and would have the coked up advertising galoots thinking it was genius.

    Other possible (sponsor linked) names; The Chunder, The Carve, Nuggets (reference to the golden ones would get the kids thinking chicken, while the mature fan would be thinking “Ah, a reference to our mineral extracting past” thus achieving multi-generational recognition and therefore pantswetting in PR/advertising land), The Giblets, The Poultra (possibly obscure, to Almanackers, reference to the giant chicken in the ‘Jimmy Neutron’ movie) and The Hedskutoff.

    FYI. Here, Al Jazeera, (spits), is a local soccer, (oops, I said soccer, I meant Jehovah), team who choose to wear vertical black and white stripes. Please understand why I can have nothing to do with that news service…

  35. David Downer says


    Some sensational ditties there mate, lovely work. And “eye-mouth coordination” has been noted for future canine reference!

  36. # 25 re the A and B concept for Vic Big Bash reminds me of Tony Leonards description of Footscray v Melb games in the late 80’s.
    “When the shoppers from Georges meet the shoppers from Forges”

  37. #34 – Ahleach you make a very good point. The Watson ad does send a very poor message and it raises a question in my mind. Namely, who is are Cricket Australia trying to reach? How do they benefit from this?

    The Watson Ad: The ad is targeted I feel to brash, over confident males aged 15 – 30 (mobile phone personal users). The slogan ‘Power to you’ fits the ad and target nicely. All well and good for Vodafone, but how does this benefit Cricket Australia? It doesn’t at first glance. As Ahleach so elloquently explained:

    ‘I truly believe ads like that turn kids off the game of cricket. Let’s say your a kid who likes playing cricket but you’re no superstar. You turn on the TV and see someone bowl a lollipop that gets smashed and the bully kids poke fun at the person who’s out there having go despite the fact that they’re not that good. Just a horrible message’.

    Why would CA, approve such an ad, when the Vodafone target market is so narrowly defined? Look at other ads this summer. The VB ads, have a poor attempt at humour and the KFC ads try to integrate the colonel as an Australian figure (I keep waiting for the Colonel and Richie Benaud to appear in an ad together where they walk into a room and realise they are wearing the same coloured jacket). I am left to think that the advertising execs have identified the lowest common denominator as those who could get involved with cricket who haven’t before, those who originally steered clear of the game as it was too ‘traditional’.

    So we are left 400 colonels trying to get people to do the chicken dance, Michael Clarke being encouraged to make a low score (how prescient was that?!?) and Shane Watson hitting grandma for 6 whilst other players fall about laughing. Maybe it will work. The lowest common denominator reached. But at what cost? In the short term, an angry thread amongst loyal cricket fans? Us. Who despite this, will still tune in to watch the games. In the long term, perhaps a struggling bowler switching to another sport.

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