Let’s take a sledgehammer to boofhead Aussie bowlers
As a casual observer of wild dogs soon gathers, the true leader of the pack is mute. The wannabes, the hangers-on, the sycophants – they’re the yappy ones. Noise, noise, noise – all bluff and precious little bite.
And so another cricket season descends; I can tell from all the hot air drifting south from Brisbane earlier this week courtesy of a couple of Australian pace bowlers who feel they have to squawk more than bowl to get results.
Cricket has given me and millions of others more pleasure, excitement, involvement, distraction and exercise than we know what to do with. Genuine fans feel a sense of curatorship about the game; even if we peaked in fourth grade in the Southeast Berkshire League 20 years ago, we care about how cricket is played – and portrayed.
So I felt a great unease return when I saw Australia’s fast bowlers – namely Peter Siddle and James Pattinson – waste energy assaulting the eardrums of South Africa’s top-order batsmen.
Certain sections of the media were bound to join in. Such verbal sprays had been “impressive”, we read. The “aggro” was back (as if it ever left) and the inference was that Aussie bowlers were so much better when they sledged.
As if that is something that engenders pride. Little typifies the syndrome of the ugly Australian more than this boofheadery, which is right down there with the inane “Aussie Aussie Aussie!” chant and wearing the national flag as a Superman-style cape on January 26. If Americans or Brits behaved like this, wouldn’t we be the first to give them grief?
I feel particularly sorry for Pattinson. At 22, his stats are outstanding, but he appears to be the latest in a long line brainwashed to think that you must holler and hoon like an imbecile to be successful.
I know getting wickets is a buzz (it was in Berkshire with a dozen people including the tea lady watching), but how much more impressive would he be if he dismissed the likes of Graeme Smith and then refrained from pointing to the dressing room, screeching and carrying on like an absolute goose?
Pattinson is being spoken of as a future leader of the attack – and I am sure he has the talent – but you have to continue to worry for the spirit of the game at Test level.
True champions let the bat, the ball, the racquet, the three-iron or whatever apparatus they have mastered do the talking. The second a sporty person cracks and opens his/her mouth to rant is the second they have lost faith in their abilities and allowed confidence to fly the coop.
The Brisbane display took the edge off an intriguing match in which both sides mostly felt each other out. It clouded Michael Clarke’s towering 250 – a watershed score for a bloke who has worn much unfair criticism.
Clarke also showed he has grown in the captaincy role, particularly in such ticklish areas as doublespeak and being disingenuous in approving of “the aggression, the intent”.
Patto knew the rules and would never cross the line, Pup said. Of course he knows the rules, and all the grey areas – he has been carefully schooled.
The notion of demanding better behaviour in a game once played in a firm but fair fashion by gentlemen is perhaps quaintly old-fashioned, but I’ll tell you what is not, and yes, I am playing the “role model” card.
Youngsters look up to these blokes and ape their behaviour. I wonder what the Test team would have said if they had witnessed, as I had, a scene on a suburban park opposite my house in Melbourne a few years back.
A tailender had been dismissed, for not many, and was absolutely hounded and berated all the way back to the clubhouse by the victorious bunch of losers who had claimed his wicket. It was abhorrent.
No doubt the Test players would tut-tut before returning to their own hijinks at the top level.
If you feel you cannot bowl out the world’s best batsmen without huffing and puffing and having a giant dummy-spit, so be it – you are apparently well on your way to selection for our national team. But real fans of the game as it should be would take you into their hearts if you just shut up and did your job.
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