Almanac Cricket: How righteous we are!

I don’t really get it!

I understand that our great game of cricket is revered around the country. I understand that the captain of the team is held in  high esteem, beyond that of the Prime Minister. I understand that what three Australian players have done is not within the rules of the game. And I understand that their indiscretion comes under the heading of cheating. And lying.

Naughty boys!

I also understand that away from this form of sport, we have hundreds, thousands in our midst, who have done exactly the same thing – cheated. Cheated their employers, cheated their employees, cheated their families, cheated their children, cheated their parents, and cheated their friends. Cheated and lied. And it’s happening every day.

What I don’t understand is why we are so bloody righteous in our condemnation of these three men – or were so until the tears came – and why this whole affair has become such a headline when, the world over, real tragedy is happening every minute of our lives.

About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016.


  1. stve todorovic says

    Agree 100%, Jan. Just highlights how egocentric and self -absorbed Australian society and in particular, our media, have become. Any level of true perspective on this issue sees it as a specifically first world problem. I have great sympathy and empathy for Smith and Bancroft. I sincerely hope that they’re now allowed time to themselves and family. But the incessant hunger of mainstream western media to continue to manipulate this story for their own gain, providing the fodder for western society’s now all too common pervasive voyeurism, means it won’t happen.

    What a pity that the plight of the hundreds of millions of third world men, women and children is never explored to the same extent. Tampering with a cricket ball whilst playing sport versus people being killed and tortured by their own governments, or even Australians living in poverty each and every day. Let’s just take a step back and put some perspective on this issue…..please!

  2. I agree with the first part of your argument more than the second.
    When we have a visceral reaction to someone else’s behaviour it is generally because it triggers something about ourselves. I think there is a subliminal self loathing in a lot of us because we are “cheating” life in the sense of not really giving our best to family, work and life. And we know it.
    Dunno about Australia solving the world’s problems. We are a pimple on an elephant. I am all for compassion, but there are limits about how much we can do without ruining our own social cohesion. Having worked with a few war traumatised young men from Africa, finding a safe physical environment is only a small part of their journey. They have no foundational safety (understandably) and act out their trauma in very destructive ways.
    We need to be soft hearted and hard headed in our responses.
    Let Smith, Warner and Bancroft back into Shield cricket ASAP. We all need community and connection to find our best selves.

  3. Thanks both of you. Agree 100% also, Stve (or is it Steve?)

    Peter, I’m not sure when you say “I agree with the first part of your argument more than the second.” whether your referring to mine or Stve’s comment. Think it’s more likely the latter, because I’m not suggesting Australian can solve the world’s problems. Also, I’m talking about actual cheating, not “cheating life in the sense of not giving our best to family, work and life”. Thanks.

    And so life goes on…..

  4. As a health worker I’ve some cognisance of the angst and the impact of being caught, that confronts this trio.

    They’ve done the crime, now they need to do the time. However to do this properly the coverage must move beyond some of the pious cant that’s been so prevalent. All nations sides have indulged in ball tampering, however our board has been far more stringent than others in meting out an appropriate punishment.

    Let them do their penance, put some effort into assisting the cricketing community and if they return to international cricket, good luck. Time to move beyond the loud opinions that have marked this sad episode.


  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    I wouldn’t worry about ’em too much. They’ll feel better once they check their bank accounts.

  6. Jan
    I’m sorry but you can’t have it both ways. The reason this has become a headline is because for people like you and me (and this whole writing community) cricket matters. Yes, there are far more weighty issues in the world that probably should be demanding our attention, yet we choose to spend lots of our time watching, listening to and analysing trivial ball games (your own recent article about the vast array of sport you are immersing yourself in is a classic example).

    So whatever the rights and wrongs of our values system, the fact remains that many Australians are interested in the fortunes of our national cricket team. When three players are done for cheating, how can it not be a big headline? As to the judgements about their actions and the consequences, yes, some have been hysterical. Some have been measured and thoughtful. That’s the nature of public debate on issues of wide interest. My view for what it’s worth is that these are hugely paid professional sportsmen entrusted with leadership positions in our national team. They’ve admitted to obvious cheating. Why shouldn’t we should throw the book at them? Again, on this website there’s been plenty of hand-wringing about the deplorable culture of the Australian team, so I’m not sure why we’re suddenly going soft when an obvious wrongdoing gets penalised.

  7. Earl O'Neill says

    Sportsmen and sportswomen represent mythological archetypes. Not that people don’t seek them amongst all manner of celebrities but there’s a purity about sport, it’s all there on the field for us to witness. We know that music and movies are subject to technological manipulation before the product is available for public consumption.
    Steve Smith is the new Icarus. These grand tales of morality are embedded in our subconscious, we can’t help but react, especially when played out on the stage of cricket – no other sport lends itself so perfectly to fables.
    Yes, cheating and lying happen everywhere, all the time, but one cheat is a tragedy, one thousand cheats a statistic.

  8. Thanks Glen, Phillip, Stainless and Earl

    I’m not for one minute condoning what happened, nor am I ‘going soft’, Stainless, on the penalties. I’ve been just as shocked and upset as everyone else, and agree with the punishments.

    All I’m trying to say is, firstly, how easy it is to condemn and criticize our fellow human for something that many of us have done – cheat (in some way or another), and – for almost all of us – lie. And, secondly, that in the overall larger picture, cricket (and sport) and all its ramifications, is merely a game – albeit an important one to Australians – and therefore the emphasis, to me, has been a little out of proportion.

    In this case not sure about the famous quote: “one cheat…..tragedy; one thousand…….statistic”, Earl, because this saga has become certainly more than a mere statistic.

Leave a Comment