It’s a good thing the Aussies have their wives and girlfriends along for the Ashes tour.

Oo-er, it's the footballers wives

Had they not been there, it’s quite probable we would have gone down to county side Northamptonshire because we’ve all been assured by Cricket Australia that the boys play better if the WAGs are in attendance.

Seeing as we have managed to win just one of the seven tour games so far, I tremor at the thought of what would have happened if CA hadn’t had the foresight to support the significant others/B-grade celebrities and female wannabes to stay with the cricketers for the first part of the Ashes.

But, to me, the WAGs’ policy looks more like an invention born of the need for cricket publicity than for team success. I have no problems with wives, girlfriends and families spending time with their partners if that’s what CA intended.

But I suspect having the WAGs on tour is less about making the team happy and more about keeping cricket in the news.

The Australians have struggled for coverage in recent years and fielding an underwhelming side for this tour was bound to lead to the need to generate interest. At times, during the last tours to the subcontinent, you had to look hard to find match reports in the back pages of the papers.

You can almost see the smart, young marketing executive at CA telling anyone who’d listen that linking celebrity with cricket would fire up the ratings.

Cue fashionistas for instant pictures and fire up a catfight between a player’s mother and attractive girlfriend. Bingo, instant coverage.

As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. But is that true?

At this stage, I attach the caveat that when it comes to celebrity news I seem to have not just jumped the generation gap but pole-vaulted it. While a sizeable chunk of society seems obsessed with celebrity and newspapers can’t get enough celebrity content, I have drifted in the other direction.

I can’t stand that Paris Hilton is referred to as a role model. There is nothing about her that I’d want my daughters to emulate.

I don’t think it’s a positive thing for society that a trend has developed for “stars” to leak their own sex tapes because of the publicity this drives. And I don’t think it’s admirable that decent actors are openly and actively encouraged to demonstrate bad behaviour because it sells better.

So it stands to reason that I’m not really going to be greatly interested in recent coverage of Michael Clarke and Shane Watson carrying the shopping bags for their girlfriends in London.

Or, for that matter, the much covered fight between Mitchell Johnson’s mother and girlfriend.

I recognise that boosted coverage doesn’t necessarily mean that the greater numbers of readers endorse celebrity activity; they often just enjoy looking at their bizarre and immoral behaviour or looking at the pics of the latest fashions. Put simply, reading about the freak show doesn’t mean readers are about to follow the freaks.

But the crowding out effect of celebrity news means that we aren’t taking part in discourse on other more important matters. And, I think, a constant and growing exposure to the amoral, marketing-driven behaviour of celebrities sends all the wrong signals.

Society has managed to lock itself in mixed message of massive proportions. On one hand, we want participants in society to aspire to decency and fairness. We ask our kids to respect others and behave properly.

But on the other hand we reward the people who demonstrate the worst human tendencies with more coverage and more money. And meanwhile, we can’t help ourselves from enjoying what seems to bring out the worst in us.

I might come across as an old codger at age 45, but I remember the good old days when we didn’t need Lara Bingle to drive an interest in the cricket. And we certainly didn’t need to stir a family fight to get the promotion on track.

I remember Steve Waugh demonstrating toughness and resilience with a double ton at Sabina Park, leading Australia to victory with its first series win in the West Indies for decades.

I remember in 1989 watching Mark Taylor and Geoff Marsh bat all day at Trent Bridge, racking up 0- 301 as the Aussies destroyed the Poms 4-0 in that series.

I just enjoyed watching them do it and I didn’t need pictures of Lara Bingle sending texts to her agent about her next fashion shoot to inspire me to watch it.

Maybe Lara Bingle and Jessica Bratich might get a few extra eyeballs across the CA website, but the organisation’s willingness to attach itself to the whole celebrity saga seems to me to be an admission that the team can’t attract viewers on talent alone.

Who wins? No doubt pandering to an obsession with celebrity might generate a few extra dollars, but ultimately in this moral race to the bottom, no-one.

Most commented


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    • Jeff from Meroo says:

      08:22am | 31/07/09

      Hang on a minute.  I can appreciate your point on the WAGs being there or not being there being a moot point and not worthy of coverage however I don’t think that comparing Lara B to Paris H is fair by any means.  The WAGs are there yes.  And yes they’re hot as and worth a TV shot in between balls in a slow over but saying that CA is leading a moral race to the bottom is a bit over the top don’t you think.

      I reckon that if my son sees the sort of bird he can pull if he becomes a top cricket player he’ll be in the nets more often…  and that can’t be bad.  If my daughter watches because “the boring” cricket now has an element of fashion and celebrity about it, she too will become more interested in cricket…  and that can’t be bad either.

    • Eric says:

      09:09am | 31/07/09

      Heh. They all look the same.

    • G.W. Grace says:

      09:29am | 31/07/09

      Dave, you’re right on the money and guess what? “There ain’t no turnin’ back.”

    • John L says:

      09:35am | 31/07/09

      Eric - Your right. They all look the same. And they don’t look happy either.

    • Sambobs says:

      09:38am | 31/07/09

      So, are we now going to get an article on this site that goes into depths about how England’s very sporting gesture of allowing Haddin to be replaced has saved Australia’s Ashes future? After all, Haddin is arguably the most in form of Australia’s batsmen at the moment and with a key pivotal position of wicketkeeper being absent England had the (lawful) chance to take this test away from Australia. Wasn’t it this very site that went to great lengths to accuse England of cheating in Cardiff? I doubt very much whether Ricky Ponting would have allowed England the same courtesy given half the chance!

    • John F says:

      09:58am | 31/07/09

      Have to agree with you. This bunch of C listers should stay at home as the team will perform better.

    • Greenhouse says:

      10:06am | 31/07/09

      The jaded viewing public are suffering from a diet of too much cricket. Or too much sport, period. The reason we are tuning out is that watching Ponting lead his merry men out onto the field is no longer special. It’s not something you need to look forward to or savour because they play almost ALL YEAR. Greed to suck the sports cashing cow dry has resulted in dwindling public interest. Who cares if they lose today, there is always another game around the corner! WAGS are a last ditched effort to rally some interest. Yawn…..

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      10:09am | 31/07/09

      Maybe they can do a soapie similar to the english one about soccer wives…..

    • ShaneO says:

      10:19am | 31/07/09

      Who cares?

      Don’t read the articles and don’t click on the images if the WAGS don’t interest you.

      I’m a cricket lover and honestly don’t know my Lara Bingles from my Jessica Bratichs and never will. The reason these people get media traction is because there is a market for that sort of irrelevant story.

      Thats why ACA and the other one (the name escapes now!) do so well.

      No one makes you the read the stories!

      Sambobs: Your assessment on Ricky Ponting is harsh…......but probably true!

    • iansand says:

      10:21am | 31/07/09

      Why are you writing this here?  Why aren’t you on your feet hot gospelling in every newsroom across the land.

      You do appreciate the ludicrous irony of a journalist complaining about how journalism is done, don’t you?

      And when will the WAGs start streaking?

    • Arnold Layne says:

      10:55am | 31/07/09

      Gees they look bored.  The poor dears must be having a miserable time travelling the world for nothing.  And who’s that with the beer and the durry?  What sort of an example is that for the kiddies?!

      Anyway, the two new players to the team overnight both have high-profile WAGs.  Coincidence?  Let’s start the conspiracy theories now!

    • FROSTY says:

      11:14am | 31/07/09

      RE; JEFF FROM MERROO COMMENTS…. I feel he may be onto a marketing boom for C.A. I refer to the following extract from his comment…..... “I don’t think that comparing Lara B to Paris H is fair by any means.  The WAGs are there yes.  And yes they’re hot as and worth a TV shot in between balls” Jeff your a genius son!!! C. A. would do well to take your advise!!! I already have a mental picture!!! And with the loveable Henry Blowfeld and Jeffrey Boycott commentating on the fashions the cricket would rate No. 1 ???...............  Whats the score anyway, Was there play yesterday???

    • D says:

      11:31am | 31/07/09

      I totally agree Arnold…. great role model for the kids, puffing on a ciggy and downing a beer, I suppose if the boys cant do it, the girls are making up for it. Dont they look impressed!!!!  P.S Drop Johnson for goodness sake.

    • Dave says:

      11:48am | 31/07/09

      The Australians have not struggled for coverage in recent years. Did you notice a series against India in 2007/2008. a massive ashes series in 2005 and 2006/2007.

    • S.K . Chappell says:

      12:18pm | 31/07/09

      ” ... we reward the people who demonstrate the worst human tendencies with more coverage and more money. And meanwhile, we can’t help ourselves from enjoying what seems to bring out the worst in us.”

      So you fight back by writing a blog about WAGs, Paris Hilton and Lara Bingle? What kind of moron are you?

    • Rob says:

      01:32pm | 31/07/09

      “WAGS” ??

      Who would have predicted 20 years ago that a bunch of English international footballers underperforming (as per usual) at arguably the world’s most popular international sporting event (the “soccer world cup”  to Australians), would have had such influence on quintessential Aussie sporting heroes such as Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson ? 

      Just think, if John Aloisi had missed that penalty, that vast majority of Australians may never have been exposed to this odious “WAG” businesss in the first place !

    • Jacqueline Pascarl says:

      01:50pm | 31/07/09

      Is it just me, or do the women in the accompanying photo appear to be from a tribe of spray tan worshippping, hair tong promoting, goggle wearing, interchangeable idle gypsies?

    • Arnold Layne says:

      02:13pm | 31/07/09

      Jacqueline - No it’s not just you.

    • nigel says:

      02:20pm | 31/07/09

      Memo: The Easily Led. The photo that accompanies this entry is not of the Australian cricketers’ wives. It’s a stock News Ltd photo of, I gather, English Premier League football WAGS. Just click on the image. Near enough though. Or is it?

    • Bob says:

      04:31pm | 31/07/09

      Damm the WAGs in the pic are hot. Where they from?

    • Jeff from Meroo says:

      05:05pm | 31/07/09

      FROSTY:  I don’t understand where you’re coming from but I do take by your many spelling mistakes and over use of incorrect punctuation that you’ve been drinking, English is a second (third?) language to you or both.  Taking my words out of context and then having a go is something that I would have hoped the content managers of this site would keep an eye out for and I’m a little disappointed they let your comment through.  That said, if you want to have a go at me you must at least expect me to bite and reply so here it is.

      You’ve obviously never watched, played (and judging by your post) probably can’t even spell “cricket”.  The only reason you even read the article (or had it read to you) was because of the picture of the footballer’s WAG’s it features front and centre.

      Which proves my point 100%.

    • AFR says:

      06:03pm | 31/07/09

      Call it what you like, but why not just call it “women supporting their partners”? And what’s the big deal about that? Is it jealousy or something?

    • Jason Mc says:

      11:00pm | 31/07/09

      Well said Jeff!!

    • Peter Thornton says:

      11:05pm | 31/07/09

      WAGs? Geeze, how naff! it’s almost as if cucumber sandwiches, going down the rub-a-dub-dub for a swift half, free speech and the benefits of a first-past-the-post system of representative democracy based on a two-tier set-up of upper and lower houses of legislative power wasn’t enough. The average WAG becomes boring quicker than the winner of the last TV reality show. In fact, it’s easier to tell the difference between a dog’s dinner and the dog’s bollocks…

    • Ray says:

      07:20am | 01/08/09

      You want some good publity CA, then send some wives /WAGs etc to Afghanistan to see their men/women.

    • johnv_au says:

      07:02pm | 08/08/09

      I dont want to sound bitter and twisted but the botox treatment here must have cost a fortune there is so much on the lips they have lost the ability to smile

      (Now I did say i dont want to sound bitter and twisted just an observation)

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