Only Australia Sledges the Opposition…

New Zealand are a graceful team full of innocent, softly spoken men of praise, whereas Australia are arrogant, silver spooners who are both rude and unnecessarily aggressive.

If you’ve only been around the game of cricket for about five minutes or you are susceptible to sensationalised misrepresentations, then you probably hold this view.

Sections of New Zealand’s media have suggested that Australia “bullied” New Zealand in the World Cup final.

The idea is outright nonsense. The aggressive Brad Haddin, in particular, has come under fire for his banter with Grant Eliot and his ‘sending off’ of Martin Guptill. From these initial sensationalist print media grabs, the usual suspects have suggested that everybody hates Australia because they play the game with no ‘grace or humility’.

New Zealand’s players do not share this view. Neither do the ICC. Brendan McCullum says the final was played in great spirit and the ICC has not issued any fines or warnings for on-field conduct.

 

aus-and-nz-post-game

Little-publicised post-match drinks and commiserations between Australia and New Zealand players after the 2015 ICC World Cup final. (Pic via: Adam Johnson’s Twitter feed)

 

Australia has admitted an aggressive approach. They believe New Zealand got the better of them mentally and verbally in the group stage thriller in Auckland.

Australia target certain players believed to be susceptible to a loss of concentration at the behest of verbal banter. But they are not the only team who do this. When the situation demands most teams dish it out.

When Wahab Riaz unleashed one of the most aggressive spells of fast bowling ever seen in ODI cricket at Shane Watson, complemented by some excellent verbal barrage and body language from Riaz and the Pakistani team, the Australian response was nothing but praise and embrace for Riaz and Pakistan.

It was a spectacular quarter final contest. Watson got roughed up and Riaz was dead unlucky not to get him out (his team mate dropped a sitter). Almost everybody supported Riaz and thoroughly admired his desire to lift Pakistan. Many Australian commentators and punters expressed outrage when Riaz was charged by the ICC for his actions and they were right. The ICC made a colossal mistake.

That is cricket. It is a deeply psychological game. After training all week in the nets, batting out in the middle is up to 75% mental warfare with yourself, your technique and your own flaws and insecurities, all of which can be cracked open and exposed by good bowling, a glare or a smile from the bowler or a few comments from the slips.

Some are good at banter, most are not. Some take it too far and they are reprimanded by match officials, who also occasionally get it wrong. The day that verbal banter and aggressive bowling are removed from cricket is the day the game dies. The day when it is only Australia who attempts these tactics is the day when everybody else has stopped playing the game.

Your true character is revealed by your ability to compete hard, without degenerating to immature or offensive behaviour, and then sharing a beer and mutual respect after the game.

 

johnson-and-boult

Mitchell Johnson and Kiwi counterpart Trent Boult share a moment as the dust settles on the World Cup final. (Pic: via Trent Boult’s Twitter feed)

 

Pat White’s CRICKET FROTH (where this article first appeared) is a refreshing and incisive look at all things Test Cricket and the world of flanneled foolery. You can read his other Almanac contributions HERE

 

Comments

  1. Wow, an I really reading this ? An article which does not deride the Australians for their behaviour ! I need to pinch myself, before realising how pleased I am to find this on our great blog.

    Glen!

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Agree with article 100 per cent ! Thank you , Pat

  3. bob utber says

    Greg Baum (the Age) and Bruce Guthrie (The New daily) are not just journalists but fine writers and highly respected in their field. Suggest that everyone go back a day or two and read their reviews on Australian cricketers and their behavior.
    Letters to the editor are still being printed and I believe Baum received more e-mails for his piece than any other article he has ever written.
    The Australian cricket team are bullies!

  4. Peter Crossing says

    Seems to me that “degenerating to immature or offensive behaviour” sums up Brad Haddin’s approach on the day. Compare his puerile send-off of New Zealand players (including Adam Vettori, an ornament to the game) to Brendon McCullum’s gracious farewell to opposing captain Michael Clarke.
    Michael Clarke’s “diplomatic” statement that “I can’t remember a player getting a send-off. Maybe I was too far from the action” is untenable. He has also stated that “… I know this team has copped a fair bit of stick throughout this World Cup”. The poor precious things. On Adelaide radio Darren Lehman is reported to have said “… no-one got reported out of the game, so we must have played it fair”. Well, that excuses it all, I guess. Fair dinkum.

  5. Dave Brown says

    It is clear there is a schism amongst cricket fans on the way players should behave. To be honest, however, I’m sick of being told I must have come down in the last shower just because I think our current team are equal parts intensely talented and classless.

    First point though is that it doesn’t matter how the rest of the world behaves – the Australian team represents us, so their behaviour reflects on us and we should be able to have an open debate on what that means without the patronisation that seems to come on one side of the debate.

    I’ll challenge anyone to claim that Johnson’s stare (in the foot on throat context at that point in the game) at Vettori was: respectful of a champion player in his last game; added anything at all to Australia winning the game (i.e. necessary); or was anything other than childish and churlish.

    While the spirit of the game bit is still in the laws of the game it is up to the pro-sledger to prosecute their case and campaign for for a change to the laws to reflect current practice. The rest of us can continue to hope that these blokes might grow up a bit.

  6. Peter Flynn says

    Some keeper starts clapping like a maddee and saying God knows what to a dismissed batsman who can’t respond.

    Really?

    That’s a complete lack of respect for your opponent.

    Never ever lack respect for your opponent.

    Haddins behavior can’t be justified.

    Agree with P Crossing.

    Lehmann is a good coach, a fine cricket brain and an effin nob..

    The latter will often protrude.

    Boorish and embarrassing.

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