'It's sport, not war' January 9, 2008

Sporting greats upset by Australia's behaviour

Cricinfo staff



Michael Hussey says the team has never broken any rules © Getty Images
 

The criticism of Australia's conduct at the SCG has spread to other sports with three members of the country's Hall of Fame calling for the team's "moral compass to be returned". John Bertrand, a sailor who won the America's Cup in 1983, is the chairman of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and he wants a meeting with Cricket Australia to let it know its sides should be showing more respect to opponents.

Australia's behaviour during the match in Sydney has been under severe scrutiny. Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey have defended the team actions during the victory, but there have been a host of complaints in the fallout from a game that included issues over race, sportsmanship, umpiring, catching and walking.

"We have a lot of clout in the sporting community and we will be saying to Cricket Australia that people need to step back and reassess what is happening here with a cool head," Bertrand said in the Herald Sun. "The pressure to win out on the field has become too hot, and that pressure is all about winning at all costs.

"That is not what sport is about ... The fallout that we are seeing at the moment is not acceptable. It's clearly damaging international relations and clearly a lot of people are upset."

Bertrand has joined the respected athletes Herb Elliott and Robert de Castella in believing the players are too arrogant. "Sport is only sport," he said, "it's not war."

Hussey said the players had "never stepped outside the rules or the laws of the game". "We have a great pride in playing for the baggy green cap and for playing for each other," he said in the Australian. "We know how hard it is to get an opportunity to play for Australia and we want to play as hard as we possibly can."

Neil Harvey, an Invincible from 1948, disagreed with Hussey and said Ponting "needs to look at himself". "Certainly the captain needs to be stronger and keep his guys in line," Harvey said. Harvey was also concerned by Australia's failure to shake Anil Kumble's hand at the end of the Test. "I don't think they are very sporting."