The Dummy's Guide to Cricket

At the risk of unearthing half buried faeces I thought it was about time we had a little chat about the Australian national cricket team. Mainly because currently the ODI side is having an absolutely abysmal time on their five match tour of England. In the first game they were squeezed out by three wickets; whilst in the second they were walloped by 38 runs. Now if you knew absolutely nothing about cricket, you might not find these results too unusual. England are top of the ODI world rankings and the Aussie team languish down at six. For the ‘good of the game’ though cricket needs a competitive Aussie side. So dummy’s where did it all go wrong for Australia? Well in the simple cry of, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie? Cheat, Cheat, Cheat!

Do You Come From A Land Down Under?

Australians are tough folk. Absolutely no denying that. They’re gritty, unshakeable survivalists, who sweat out their days in scorching temperatures and a diet of red meat. Over the years this tough attitude has been represented in the type of cricket played. Back in the 1970’s and ‘80s they possessed two of the most aggressive bowlers on the planet, Jeff Thompson and Dennis Lillee. They even had a saying; ‘If Lillee don’t get ya, Thommo will.’ It was brutal, in your face (literally as there were no helmets), career ending bowling.

A decade later and the Waugh brothers took centre stage. Steve in particular introduced a rough approach to test cricket. It’s when sledging really got going. Alright so sometimes they offered half volleys to the opposition, such as Mark Waugh snarling to a bloke called James Ormond (no idea either); ‘What are you doing out here? You’re not good enough to play for England.’ Without missing a beat Ormond replied, ‘Maybe so but at least I’m the best player in my family!’ Superb comeback by Ormond there. Shame he was shite with bat in hand.

Fast forward to the 21st century and the Aussie team were the number one side in world cricket; for good reason. Not only were they incredibly fiery competitors, they possessed lethal bowling in McGrath, Lee and Gillespie. Shane Warne spun the ball like a couple of swingers. Hayden and Langer were like an STD, incredibly painful and hard to remove (Editor – something you want to tell us?). Whilst skip Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist embodied the grizzly, fighting spirit.

I loved that early noughties side. Well, loved and despised in equal measure. You couldn’t help but admire their tenacity and spirit. Clearly though, once that incredibly talented batch of players’ disappeared, something changed…

Where Women Glow and Men Plunder?

The Australian side from 2010 onwards were no longer the best in world cricket. Hell, they were even beaten in their own back yard by the Poms and Proteas. Hayden was replaced by Shane Watson, Lee by Ryan Harris, Warne by… well nobody. In a desperate attempt to cling onto their historic past, it was at this moment that the bubbling toughness boiled over into a fiery eruption of bad language and over the line sledging. Mickey Arthur, head coach from 2011 to 2013 writes, ‘I have been bitterly disappointed by the Aussie team over the last few years. They have been boorish and arrogant.’ And he would know.

Arthur was brought in to break the self-righteous curse which had lingered over the Aussie side. Instead he found himself having to deal with a host of incidents, ranging from Warner punching Root in a nightclub, to ill-discipline in team meetings. As an outsider, he received zero respect from a side who had grown up watching their forbearers dominant world cricket. Players like Clarke and Hussey had become corrupted by the innate desire to win at all costs. The line became blurred.

Can’t You Hear, Can’t You Hear The Thunder? 

If the line was blurred at this point, by the Ashes of last winter it had been eroded into the dirt. Stamped on by the likes of David Warner. Hence his nickname, ‘The Bull.’ Coach Darren Lehman didn’t’ help either. Whereas Arthur was an outsider with a sense of perspective, Lehman came through the same system as many of his players. He suffered from that sense of entitlement. The seeds had very much been sown for what was to come. In that Ashes series though England were so shite, that the Aussies had no need of foul play. England were simply not good enough to stand up against a fearsome trio attack of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins. Throw in Steve Smith’s 649 runs and we had no chance.

It was a differing story against a strong South African side, who fought tooth and nail against the Aussie hammer. Here’s where the pug like Warner got in a spat with De Kock, where Dopey Lyon threw the ball in anger at de Villiers and of course, where Bancroft rubbed his cock raw with sandpaper.

The ultimate eruption. Such was their arrogance and belief in their ‘god-like’ status Warner and Smith felt outraged enough to cheat. Blatantly. In front of millions of viewers. Genuine idiots. But you know what? I’m glad it happened; we all should be. Finally the smug Aussies had made an obvious mistake, which could legally be punished. Stevie and Davey banned for a year, Cameron just the nine months. Before it was all snide sledges, thus within the laws. Thank goodness that with Sandpaper Gate our suspicions were confirmed. Aussies were cheats.

You Better Run, You Better Take Cover

Now though, five months later? God they’re shit! Without Warner and Smith, this one-day side are as clinical as Jesse Lingard in front of goal (one for all you World Cup fans there!) England have perfectly exploited their inability to play spin. Finchy bats like he’s trapped on the loo, Head plays so relaxed it’s like he’s being given… a massage, Tye ain’t fit to tie the laces of Smith and apparently two Richardson’s are much worse than one. Australia are so poor that today England could take an unassailable lead in the five match series. And who have they got to blame? Nobody but themselves and their culture. It’s because of their dominant history that the Warner and Smith cheated in the first place, as they couldn’t stand being second, when their heritage has taught them to be first.

Therefore the Aussies were always going to fuck up. I’m just glad it happened in our lifetime. Now it’s up to coach Justin Langer to create a new Australian identity, not the twisted malice of yesteryear, but a controlled aggression that allows the team to find a measure of fighting spirit, combined with respect.

Otherwise the Aussies will end up losing to Afghanistan.

Actually that may not be such a bad thing…

Cheats never prosper after all.