Australian cricketers have always reverted to the mantra ‘hard but fair’ whenever they have come under attack.
‘It’s our style of play, we are aggressive, we play to win, we are hard but fair.’
They have always exuded a sort of penal colony mentality: ‘We are rougher, tougher, meaner than the rest. No one likes us but we don’t care’. They don’t care that they leave a trail of acrimony and bitterness behind every series.
And yet they have always claimed there is ‘a line that should not be crossed’.
That usually refers to sexual innuendos in references to their families. More than a few ex-Proteas and other top players have mentioned the vile abuse they have come under from the Australians.
We now know that ‘the line’ does not refer to blatant cheating; and not just cheating, but a high-level conspiracy to cheat, taken by the senior members of the team. The same members who are so quick to spew out the ‘hard but fair’ mantra. And it seems too slick to be a spur-of-the-moment idea; this suggests they have done this before.
Cameron Bancroft will recover from this; after all, some of the older Proteas will remember Michael Atherton being heavily fined in 1994 for the famous ‘dirt in the pocket’ affair in a match against South Africa in 1994, and he went on to have a great and honourable career. At least his was a spontaneous and individual decision.
But how can Steve Smith recover from this; how can he even consider leading the team out in the fourth Test, let alone future series?
What is so utterly disgraceful about this incident is that there were senior players prepared to crush the very spirit of the game, literally and figuratively, in a desperate attempt to avoid losing; but not only that, they sent out a junior member of the team to do it. That smacks of elite division within the team; the big boys and the juniors.
I was surprised to hear that Cricket Australia are sending out their head of integrity, Iain Roy, to investigate. He should be on every tour automatically. Surely now there must be a major overhaul and revision of Australia’s style and ethos in the game?
Whatever, they can never again claim to play ‘hard but fair’.
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