The Aussies: Fast, Brilliant, Creative, Daring and in the Final. (So why can’t I like them?)

As happy as I am that Australia has made the World Cup final this Sunday, I reluctantly face the prospect of pouring a big fat bucket of cold water on the whole thing with what I am about to do.

I risk the scorn of SEN talk-back callers, face the prospect of having my manhood questioned and the likelihood that I will face the ultimate insult; being called un-Australian.

But as much as I marvel at the batting and fielding genius of Maxwell, stand and applaud the consistent brilliance of Smith, be stunned by the redemption story that continues to be Johnson,  and look in awe at the finishing ability of Faulkner, there’s a problem.

I just don’t like them as a bunch of blokes.

I am sure they are perfectly nice off the field, visit hospitals, do charity work, are friendly and pleasant to be around.

But on the field, a large number of them, well, to be honest, behave like a pack of pricks.

I find that I just can’t warm to them. Best I can do is admire them.

Plenty of sporting teams have revelled in the bad boy image, us against the rest. It often works too. The Detroit Pistons of the 80s won 2 NBA titles happily calling themselves the Bad Boys, and Terry Wallace’s Bulldogs with Libba, Southern and Romero made the trip to the Western Oval as unpleasant as they could for all.

But this side seems to embrace nastiness, when they could easily win on merit.

Noted cricket scribe and commentator Jonathon Agnew got into trouble recently for questioning whether the emotional response and commitments made by Clarke etc. after the death of Phil Hughes, about how Australia would play the game and how they’d honour him, had been quickly neglected with the return to sledging and all out aggression during the India series. Australia seems to feel it is in-your-face aggro, rather than good honest short pitched pace or playing great shots, that is the standard they will bring to games.

I think Agnew’s points, whilst possibly made awkwardly, had significant merit.

Sledging to create uncertainty or doubt is brilliant. Making a batsman second guess or think too much is an art. So too is humour to get them distracted.

But just calling a bloke a c*** or a weak f***er is plain boring and simple. Yes, cricket is a frustrating game when you steam in repeatedly and the batsman plays and misses. But do you really have to eyeball him and swear? Make to throw the ball back at him? Is that likely to work?

I feel old writing this. A conservative fuddy-duddy, longing for Downton Abbey style manners. I feel as though I should be listening to ABC National, reading the biography of Neil Harvey or having a nice cup of tea. But should my expectations be so unusual? Am I being too soft?

The South Africans are a hard bunch, tough as, emotional and take no prisoners. Steyn is as combative a cricketer as you will find. In the Kiwis you have aggressive cricketers like McCullum and Taylor. But they didn’t see the need to constantly curse each other and berate the opposition. In fact, the opposite.

Cricket is unusual in sports in that it isn’t a fair fight quite often. With the probable exception of baseball, it seems to be the only sport played without equal teams at the same time. Football, basketball, hockey, even tennis, take your pick, it is equally matched numbers when played. Cricket is 11 on 2, with 11 blokes walking or fielding near you all allowed to intimidate, swear, encroach and berate you. It has aspects of bullying.

This isn’t new. Plenty of Australian cricketers have been bought up in the hard fields of suburban, state and then national cricket to be tough and verbal, with sledging between National teammates at State level common. Blokes like Hayden, Mark Waugh, Warne and the like in the 90s were happy to remind you how good they were and how crap you were. It doesn’t take much skill to stand at gully and call someone a c*** all day but there you have it.

Looking at Watson, Warner, Haddin, Faulkner, Johnson and Starc, I just can’t seem to warm to them. Clarke has adopted a very different approach with the media in recent weeks, Smith doesn’t do much for me (despite his brilliant skill) and Maxwell seems to put it on for the cameras (he admitted this week to being quite close with many Indian players due to the IPL but can’t be like that during a game)

(I wonder how guys like Cowan and Rogers fit or fitted into this team? They don’t strike me as the type. Maybe that’s why some players don’t survive in the Australian team despite talent.)

So, maybe they are just carrying on a fine tradition that was championed by Ian Chappell, a man I quite admire then and now. Maybe it is a concerted plan to be a team focussed on channelling aggression into whatever they do. Maybe they just hate the Indians.

Whatever the reason, watching last night, I didn’t have the usual jump-off-the-couch passion when we were turning it around during the Indian chase.

Even though I think the Kiwis are brilliant, and have a soft spot for Vettori, I of course want Australia to win on Sunday.

I’ll celebrate them as a fantastically talented bunch of crickets, with great individual and collective stories.

But I don’t have to like them.


Our crowdfunding is drawing to a close. See our list of rewards and MAKE A PLEDGE now. Thank you to all our supporters who have pledged so far.



About Sean Curtain

"He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad". First line of 'Scaramouche' by Sabatini, always liked that.


  1. G’day Sean, your article is indicative of a group of pundits who seem to have what is possibly a current version of a cultural cringe. Since i was a kid in the 1970’s i’ve heard Australians complain about our national cricket team. Some journalists have almost made it an art form. Do the papers in the sub continent regularly berate their players?

    Where is the criticism of Virat Kohli’s aggressive behaviour ? When the Pakisatni fasty bowler was fined for verbaling Shane Watson in Adelaide last week, Brian Lara leapt tio his offence, saying he wa sonly showing passion; i totally agree. Howver I’m sure if it was an Australian bowler you wouldn’t hear the end of him being condemned for his agression.

    As i’ve previously mentioned in article son this blog, who was the last Australian captain to enter the press box to threaen a ommentator as IVA Richards did to Christopher Martin-Jenkins. Wha about Colin Croft ‘assaulting’ umpite Fred Goodall, the last Australia to do something similar. Habrajahn Singh racially abusing Andrew Symonds, imagine the pious outcry if it was the other way around. Javed Miandad abusing opposition players in Urdu , let’s not touch on that. Much , much more can be said of players from all nations and their offensive behaviour

    Sean, you might be totally spot on about the Australians not being the nicest bunch of blokes around, but who is ? Yes, a lot of the on field behaviour of the Australians is poor, for example Mitchell Starc last night was very disappointing, but the Australian don’t have a monopoly on these actions. I’m looking forwrad to Sunday, with the best side triumphing.


  2. Well said Sean. Starc was particularly obnoxious last night. Appealing and carrying on like a dill because the batsman protected his stumps (from inside his crease) as Starc took a gratuitous ping at them.
    This mob seem to have to round up the wagons and work themselves into a faux lather to be able to perform. Smith seems the honourable exception and I have come to really warm to him as a person and a player.
    The other sense I have is that Melbourne is getting worked up by this World Cup more than the rest of the country. All the top games have been there and you have a magnificent stadium. Adelaide has a good stadium and got some decent games. Sydney never gets worked up about sport, and the crowd looked 70% Indian. Certainly Perth got shit games and no one over here gives a toss. I suspect the same is true of Brisbane.
    The lack of free to air coverage also had an impact. I tried to watch the Indian innings after work last night, but it was as engaging as a Bill Shorten press conference.
    Bring on the footy. You might have 60% of the teams but at least you share the game around a bit.

  3. PartTimeZombie says

    Glen is quite wrong in the above comments.
    The Australian cricket team are widely reviled by fans of the game outside of Australia, but within Australia you’ll never hear any of the criticism from your local media because the Authorities would remove their access.
    It has not always been so, Alan Border was known as “Captain Grumpy” but was widely respected for playing hard but fair.
    I believe the rot set in with Ricky Ponting, King of the Cheap shot.

  4. Sadly in Australia we are now bombarded with reasons to dislike anything antipodean, to be ashamed of our history, and, apparently, to dislike the cricket team.

  5. Glen is quite right in the above comments. Every summer two teams tangle and one is taken to task as if local journos got a bonus for masochism. This summer India behaved worse than Oz (as usual) and were slapped with more reprimands etc, but we hear nothing of it.
    Sean says SA are as hard a bunch as you’ll find. Well yeah, during the round-robin stages of a tournament they’re the Ice Kings. Thereafter they melt as if by some scientific law.
    As a Baron of the Aussie media I demand JTH remove the PartTimeZombie from the site for criticising our team.

  6. E.regnans says

    Good one Sean.
    It’s a healthy starting point in life to ask: “could we be doing this better?”
    Undoubtedly the behaviour of the collective Australian cricket team could have been better. LIkewise India, South Africa, the Brunswick fourths.
    Likewise any of us.

    Nothing wrong with not liking them. Fair enough. Your call.
    None of us has an objective view, anyway, with all the baggage we carry daily and whatnot
    Maybe the Australians are reviled, parttimezombie, maybe they’re not.
    Maybe the opposition are worse PB, ajc, maybe they’re not..
    Maybe we shouldn’t criticise ourselves, Dips, maybe we should.
    I think it’s healthy to question one’s support for anything.
    Find meaning wherever we can.
    “The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing” – Socrates.

  7. ER – there is a difference between being critical (which I’m all for), and immediately starting from a derisive position.

  8. ER, if Sophocles was right, (and who am I to doubt him), by his reckoning and standard, I am a freakin genius and chock full of wisdom!


  9. Personally I think the ugly Aussie behaviour thing is overblown – like others have said, we’re not on our Pat Malone. Careers are at stake. The World Cup is at stake.

    At least we looked like we cared about winning last night.

    Something was amiss in Ashwi and smelled a bit rancid in Ranchi.

    An awful thought given how much it means to the Indian supporters.

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Fair call Sean.
    My problem with the Australian cricket team is that it is too fucking white and anglo. It does not represent multicultural Australia and that is a huge issue. It’s like watching a Neighbours or Home and Away cast on the cricket field and at least the soaps offer some token representation. The Australian cricket team is one of the last bastions of white bread Australia and therefore a cultural anachronism. Go NZ

  11. Hi Sean
    I totally agree with you.

    I think there are a few reasons but my two favourites;

    (1) IPL $$$$ and an inflated sense of entitlement
    (2) Micheal Clarke’s wife arrived at their wedding on a white horse

    Solution: George Bailey

  12. Callum O'Connor says

    Something interesting that supports your argument is that Mitch Starc was the Golden poster boy for youthful innocence – he seemed eager to do as well as he could and just beamed delightedly whenever he got a wicket. His rise in nastier, pithier on field body language has coincided with his good bowling form.

  13. The good bowling form came first. He then decided, as is team culture, to act like a wanker.

    I thought Mitchell Johnson’s send-off stare at Daniel Vettori, in his last game, was another illustration of the culture of this team. The fact that a similar “intimidating” post-dismissal stare is used to promote the Ashes suggests this is a top-down issue that will never go away.

  14. Fair suck Sean and Les. Haddin has revealed today how unrelentingly nice, kind and polite all the Kiwis were to them for a full week in NZ. Cruel and unusual punishment I would have thought, clearly justifying yesterday’s vitriol.
    The KIwi reverse psychology was fiendishly clever in NZ, but our boys were awake to their ruses yesterday.
    Any boss who sacks a worket today for turning up shitface or hungover is a bum.

  15. I watched the World cup final amongst a large audience who were drawn from a range of nations, including Aoeteora, the United Kingdom, India and of course the host nation. There was no bleating about the aussies ‘sledging’, which seems a fixation emnating from a few journalists like Greg Baum, though it seems a few Almanackers also engage in this behaviour.

    It was interesting to read an article in Sunday Age re the episode ‘across the ditch’ where Adam Parore was dismised by Brett Lee, with the kiwi crowd pelting the Australians with a range of items, including bottles, cans etc. When was the last time we saw that on an Australian ground ?

    To me the anti- Australian crricket team fixation is the flip side of the bogan’Aussie, Aussie oi oi oi’ nonsense, both reflect an immaturity in trying to decipher an Australian identity in the 21st century. Isn’t it time we worked out who we are, subsequently with the role of representative sporting teams being part of this process? In closure, Australia World Cup champions 2015.


  16. Pamela Sherpa says

    You’re not alone Sean. The behaviour of some of our cricketers is downright disgraceful and embarrassing. Why should anyone feel un Australian by not liking them? There’s a difference between playing tough and being plainly abusive . What a shame a great sporting triumph has been soured.

  17. Luke Reynolds says

    The same talking/sledging/niggle goes on in several other professional sports, including the football codes, as happens in cricket. The natural breaks in the game eg. end of over, between balls, when a wicket falls and the dismissed batsman walking past the succesful bowler, all played out in front of close up cameras and stump microphones, just highlights it in cricket.
    Perhaps our current bunch aren’t as likeable as Australian cricketers of generations past. But are they acting worse towards their opponents than a fired up Merv Hughes, an angry Rodney Hogg, DK Lillee kicking Miandad? Are they saying anything worse than what was muttered from D.C.Boon at short leg? From Ian Healy behind the stumps who often caused stump cam to be muted by Channel 9?
    With our current team I have more issues with the sulkiness of some and ego of others than any on-field behaviour. And I think things will be even better under the leadership of SPD Smith.
    I agree with Glen’s first comment on this post, but respect your opinion in this well argued piece Sean. There are a few in the team that won the World Cup that I have never warmed to, much like the odd Collingwood player over the years that I couldn’t appreciate. But I reckon on the whole the Australian cricket team has copped an unfair rap in the entire time I have been following the game. They could be far worse. They could be England.

  18. Well said Luke, the last two sentences resonate loudly !


  19. Hi all

    Many thanks for the multitude of comments pro and anti the piece. In a way, this stream brings to the fore what JTH is on about with the Almanac, great and vigorous debate, done respectfully, both sides passionate and happy to support or dismiss equally. No one’s manhood, Australianism or sexuality called into question, women not being told to get back to the kitchen and good questions being asked.

    I haven’t tried to paint this Australian team as different to past teams nor to have a mortgage on aggressive acts in recent cricket history. Indeed, the examples mentioned by the intimidating West Indies teams, or even the Poms when they were flying in the mid 00s, are happily accepted. I wasn’t trying to say this group was any worse or invented this stuff.

    However, I don’t think it is me and Greg Baum sitting alone bemoaning the side. As an example, Brendon McCullum is an aggressive cricketer, combative and competitive. He would have been determined to get his team off to the start they needed, failed dismally and them watched his opp number take the game away from him. Yet, when all was lost and Clarke was dismissed, and McCullum’s dream was gone, he shook Clarke’s hand as he walked off, as did a Kiwi teammate. A contrast to the send offs Haddin and Faulkner gave the Kiwi batsmen.

    Whilst DRS has changed batsmen’s departures from the field, you can still get fined for dissent if you hang around after being dismissed. Yet, as you walk off, you can’t stop and answer the agro that is directed at you by 11 opponents. The send offs to Elliott etc were not good, you’ve got him out, he knows it, get to your teammates not send another message.

    Like I said, tremendous admiration for a side that started with 2 injuries in the campaign, had issues with the form of key players, and thoroughly outplayed all to win a 5 title, 4 of the last 5.

    But I still find it hard to warm to them as blokes. Haddin might be brilliant, but I am not sure I’d cross a room to shake his hand. My loss maybe? Probably, but I stand by my comments, even more so in light of the final


  20. Without in anyway contradicting any of my earlier postings re this subject, the performace(s) of Brad Haddin was the low light on the day. Be it the sendoffs he gave, or hsi drunken, post-match rants, he did a diservice to a worthy champion team.


  21. Sean Curtain: a man who’s comments are as much a highlight as his articles.

    Regrettably, the Aussies were everything you touched upon on Sunday. The Haddin stuff belonged in the world of satire, not the one we’re in. Nuff said.

Leave a Comment