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Aussies play 'hard but fair', the fair dinkum way!
by Gulu Ezekiel
Jan 12, 2008
By Gulu Ezekiel - Dreamcricket Special Columnist

If you want to get inside the heads of the Australian cricket team to understand why “they just can’t get it” while the rest of the cricket world—including many of their compatriots—are heartily sick of their attitude, have a read of Steve Waugh’s autobiography released in 2005.

Now I am second to none in my admiration of Waugh’s cricketing feats and the wonderful charity work he has done in India in particular.

I found the book pretty hard going however at nearly 750 pages and finished reading it shortly before the start of the current Indian tour of Australia.

My first impression after completing it was to be amazed at the cocoon in which Australian cricketers obviously live. Now Waugh has always prided himself on exploring the countries he has toured and tasting the varying cultures, unlike many cricketers from Australia.

So I found it increasingly jaw-dropping to read how everything he and his teammates indulged in was above reproach. And yet many of his opponents came in for withering criticism. So former Pakistan captain Salim Malik, who accused Australia’s cricketers of match-fixing, is described as an “….hole”. Former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga “would never back down even if he knew he was wrong.” (Sound familiar, Ricky?) Former India captain Sourav Ganguly: “elitist” and always “bickering”.

West Indian fast bowling legend Curtly Ambrose? “Cowardly”. All this from a captain who raised (or lowered) the art of “mental disintegration” (personal abuse to you and me) to a new high—or low. And never batted an eyelid while doing so. On his last tour to England in 2001 he writes how his team “mentally harassed” some of the players during an early match. That strikes me as cowardly too.

So what about the behaviour of his own team? When Michael Slater blew his top in Mumbai in 2001 and lashed out at the umpires and Rahul Dravid it was because of his marital woes. When Glenn McGrath directed filthy abuse at Ramnaresh Sarwan in the West Indies in 2003 it was because his wife had just been diagnosed with cancer!

Brother Mark and Shane Warne accused of taking money from a bookie in return for information? Well they were just being “naïve” of course, “easy targets” and “bearing the brunt of a more serious attack largely because they were the first Aussies to be embroiled in the match-fixing controversy”. Never mind that the “easy targets” were shielded from the public for four years thanks to a secret pact between the ICC and the Australian board before an Australian journalist let the cat out of the bag!

A clear pattern thus emerges. Aussies play their cricket “hard but fair”, the fair dinkum way. It is their opponents—particularly those from Asia—who are sneaky cheats. It’s no wonder therefore that former cricketers from around the world have finally broken their silence after the Sydney Test and condemned this so-called “hard but fair” method.

What Ricky Ponting and his merry men need to understand is that what has the cricket world furious is their sanctimoniousness and hypocrisy. You can’t be a selective appealer, abuser and ‘walker’ and nor can you make lofty claims about “the spirit of cricket” without being found out sooner or later. Footnote: Lest anyone get the idea that this is just another jingoistic attack by an Indian, let me explain that I am just not buying the lame theories being trotted out here that using the term “monkey” against a person of colour is somehow harmless or connected with the monkey god Hanuman.

If Harbhajan Singh is indeed guilty, he deserves his ban and all the grandstanding by the Indian board, players, fans and media is misguided at best and downright ugly at worst.

More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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