By Melbourne-based sports authority, John Smith
It is interesting observing how it is playing out over here. Three different reactions are emerging. There are
~ some who think that the Cricket Australia bans are excessive
~ others who don’t have an issue with the general culture of the Australian cricket team
~ also a lot of people here who have not liked the culture of the Australian team for some time now.
The bans are excessive?
Technically they are if you compare them to other cases of ball-tampering in recent years.
Smith, Warner and Bamcroft made mistakes – they have acknowledged them – we should just move on.
I am not sure how many see it this way – Mark Waugh wrote an article expressing this view.
No problem with the present culture
Those who don’t have an issue with the general culture of the Australian cricket team see sledging and generally aggressive behavior as part of how Australian teams play sport and they would see this as playing hard.
But they also see Australian teams as playing fair and they are very upset at what they see as ‘cheating’.
This word has been freely used in the media and is not part of the Australian self-image. This seems to be driving the strength of the popular reaction over here, which has I think been much stronger than Smith (captain), Warner (vice-captain) and Lehmann (coach), imagined.
A toxic culture that needs cleaning up
There are also a lot of people here who have not liked the culture of the Australian team for some time now – dating back to what they see as weak captaincy from Ponting and Clarke – and want to use this as a trigger for cleaning up the whole ‘toxic’ culture and starting again.
Darren Lehmann – with his very ‘blokey’ style is seen as empowering this culture, even if he wasn’t directly involved in the Capetown incident.
Some also see James Sutherland (CEO of Cricket Australia), as part of the issue – another weak leader. This perception is very strong in the media, and from some ex-players. There have been calls for Justin Langer as coach and George Bailey as captain, to start a rebuild.
A lot of disgust
The cricket fans who I work with are appalled and disgusted – one of them came to my office the next day to tell me that he was officially not supporting the Australian cricket team any more.
He is now a Black Caps fan as he likes the way that we play the game – a tribute to the captaincy of McCullum and Williamson.
An interesting sub-text that has popped up in a few articles is the suggestion that the real villain of all this is David Warner – that he has been a strong and malevolent influence in the team, too strong for Smith to deal with.
Quite a few of the other players won’t be at all sorry if he never plays for Australia again.