28 March 2018

Cricket

There's a common expression in England. It is often applied when someone has done something that is rather unacceptable. "That's not cricket!"

Cricket is supposed to be an honourable game in which  people play by the rules. Manners and good sportsmanship are meant to be at the heart of the game. It's all about doing your best and accepting with good grace that there will be winners and losers. May the best team win.

Now a cricket ball is a hard leather orb with a seam down the middle. Bowlers can bowl it at a hundred miles an hour. A new ball will be shiny and smooth on each side of the seam so it tends to fly through the air truly. However, if one side becomes scuffed up or altered then in certain conditions the ball will swing when it is bowled, giving the bowling team a slight advantage over the batting team.

It is against the rules of cricket to deliberately affect the condition of the ball by rubbing anything into its leather surface - such as dirt, saliva made sticky by a boiled sweet, sugar or anything else. This is just not cricket - it is in fact cheating.
Last weekend, a gifted Australian cricketer was seen on camera, using a piece of yellow sandpaper to alter the surface of the ball during a test match in South Africa. When challenged by reporters about this he admitted his guilt but not only that, his team captain Steve Smith - currently the best batsman in the world - admitted that the cheating had happened with his full knowledge and approval.

Boiling with rage mixed with shame, Mr Turnbull, the Australian prime minister, has weighed into the resulting debate, condemning the cheaters who have now all been sent home from the South African tour in disgrace. Not only have they let down their team and their sport, they have let down their country. He said, "This has been a shocking affront to Australia."

Sport is important in Australian society. It provides a rallying point and has become an integral feature of  the Australian national identity. In swimming, rugby league, rugby union, tennis and cricket Australia has always been a fearsome nation. They are natural winners but though they play hard, desirous of victory, they have also always had a reputation for playing fair. 

Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner have changed that perception. Their actions were pre-meditated, deliberate and most unsporting. It was just not cricket and probably for the rest of their lives they will be paying the price of this blatant wrongdoing.

28 comments:

  1. The whole thing is disgraceful and embarrassing but the fuss it is causing here is also embarrassing. Australian's apathetically ignore everything of genuine importance and then get all up in arms over a game.
    My facebook friend sums it up well:
    Today our Government has reduced more national park and marine park protection than any other country in the world. They have hidden the Business Council's deletion of clauses in relating to increased wages and protections as a requisite of Corporate tax cuts,and have granted corporate tax cuts to companies who pay no tax and invest in offshore shell companies, yet we are devastated by three cheating cricketers who roughed up a f***ing ball. What the f*** is wrong with people.

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    1. Perspective and proportion don't seem to matter much in this real life hall of mirrors.

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  2. I guess you are right Kylie but blatant cheating....heck any form of cheating- does not fit with the image Australians want to project to the rest of the sporting world. We are, after all, just a small , insignificant country in the eyes of the rest of the world in most things, but we can and do excell at sport despite our population size. It’s a large part of our identity.

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    1. Perhaps you and Tony can offer the three cheats a secret sanctuary in your little house in Grassington.

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    2. Not welcome at our house YP.

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  3. Right: symbols matter, and the symbolism of sports is practically religious in most countries, so a cheating scandal is truly horrifying. Now, if only the Catholic Church could be held to the same accountability and shaming re: its institutional cover-up and enabling of child sexual abuse by priests, right?

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    1. Good point Vivian. We have reached a time when sports stars are bigger in people's minds than apostles or priests.

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  4. Sometimes it takes a public scandal to make sports players (and fans!) reevaluate their ethics. Look at doping in bicycle racing and the disgraced Lance Armstrong, or Mark McGwire in baseball. Players try to push the bounds and the regulating authorities have to reign them in again. It's a natural byproduct of competitiveness, I suppose. (And we see it in politics too!)

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    1. Your surmising seems spot on to me Steve.

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  5. It's a shame, especially with the money athletes make. They should really be aspiring to be perfect! But I agree with kylie and her facebook friend - there are so many important things that don't get attention, not in Australia alone, but in every country on earth. Sports has always seemed to me to be just a lesser version of "us vs them" that leads to war, both actual and political. I don't think that's how it has to be, but it seems it has devolved into that.

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    1. A lot of women seem to find sport a big turn off. That is not a criticism, just an observation. Perhaps the warring nature of sport is instinctively more appealing to men.

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  6. They were fools...dumb clowns, acting like spoiled little kidsto think they would not be found out. They are a disgrace to themselves, to their team, to their country, to the game of cricket...but...I doubt they are not the only ones who have ever cheated - all teams, all cricket-playing countries.

    I'm not condoning what they did...they've shamed themselves and their country....but I'm sure other cricket teams from other countries have done, and are doing similar.

    What I find strange about this whole "ball-tampering" thing is...on the one hand bowlers are allowed to polish the ball on their trousers in an effort to make the ball spin better or whatever....and yet by roughing up a side of the ball by dirt, sticky tape, sugar or whatever else is illegal.

    The South African team hasn't been on their best behaviour during this current tour, either. They, too, have acted disgracefully, as have some of their fans.

    There hasn't been much "fair play" going on, on either side of the line.

    And let's not forget the "bodyline" incident of 85 years ago...nothing changes much, does it? No one ever learns!

    And, yes....there are far more important issues going on that flapping about endlessly about the mischievous misbehaviour of a few cricketers. A minute drop in the ocean in the whole scheme of things.

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    1. It might be a drop in the ocean of world issues but I for one don't wish to spend all my thinking and blogging on big issues like global warming and nuclear bombs.

      You are right to suggest that Bancroft, Smith and Warner are not the only cricketers who cheated in this kind of manner but what's appalling about their trickery is that it was all pre-planned like a match tactic. Don Bradman must be turning in his grave.

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    2. I said in my comment above, I am not condoning what they did, Yorkie. I think they are fools. I think they are "dumb and dumber" personified.

      They've brought shame on our nation...I really don't give a damn about the individuals who did the ball tampering. They knew what the risks were.

      I don't wish to spend my time reading about "the big issues" on blogs, anyway. I do enough of that out here in the "real" world.

      The ball bowled by Cameron Bancroft has gone off as if it was a nuclear bomb, anyway! :)

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  7. Money money money ....having blamed big money I've seen people cheat at our Flower Show.....some people just need to win

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    1. There are many dirty tricks in the world of giant vegetables.

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  8. Well cricket may be cricket but many sports today border on cheating and more if they can get away with it. Hockey players will push the rules to the limit.

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    1. But surely not Canadian hockey players Red? Canadians are so polite and law-abiding.

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    2. Why do you think we do so well in hockey?

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  9. Considering that Australia was populated by criminals sent there from England, what can one expect.

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    1. Oh! I see you are being true to nature, Catalyst. However, it appears, from your comment, you have not yet retired as a troublemaker.

      And, perhaps, you should study more history.

      When you were working as a reporter, were you one of those who reported "Fake News"?

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    2. "In the blue corner, all the way from Phoenix, Arizona, he's mean, he's lean please give a big shout out for The Catalyst...And in the red corner, from Gympie, Australia, she's a Celtic warrior and unbeaten in fifty five bouts, please welcome Lee "The She Wolf" George!"

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    3. Hahahahahaha!

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  10. Oh, the wonderful world of comment boxes. Where would we be without them?
    My thoughts on the behaviour of Australian Test cricketers in Sth Africa?
    As Lee suggested, behaving like little kids. Ball tampering equals cheating. Same team known to engage in sledging. Sledging is a bullying tactic. Cheating and bullying. Primary school behaviour by grown men and not very bright grown men at that. Just because others behave badly doesn't mean you have to stoop to their level.
    I rest my case.
    Alphie

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    1. Thank you for your verdict Your Honour!

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  11. As an erstwhile fan and follower of cricket I find it upsetting that what was a sport is now, and has been for many years, just another money-making machine. I'm not suggesting that money is the only thing that makes people cheat but it's a great incentive.

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  12. Can some of the innocence and joy of sport can be recaptured through the increasingly popular women's leagues? I saw an interview with the captain of the winning AFLW team recently, who said of her teammates: 'we bloody love each other'. She was doing her bit for the good 'guys' that day.

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  13. I'm in Spain on the Camino and not keeping up with the news, but I was alerted to the scandal gripping Australia by your blog. My partner played a lot of cricket in his youth and often recounts that it was commonplace and apparently acceptable to scratch the ball with a sharp fingernail. Sandpaper is a step too far. I have spoken to Steve Smith in Perth. He seemed so nice. I find it hard to believe he initiated this.

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