World Cup March 5, 2007

Dramatis Personae: Australia

A year or so ago, Ponting began to make pious noises about Australians setting standards of good behaviour on the field
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Cricket sides are creatures with personalities. If the World Cup is cricket’s greatest stage, the teams are its characters. And if we’re going to work our way through the cast, it’s appropriate to begin with the hero of the last Cup and the one before that: Australia.

Australia is a protection racket gone legit. You can see glimpses of the lawlessness in Ricky Ponting’s early delinquency, in Shane Warne and Mark Waugh’s brush with bookies, in Glenn McGrath’s snarling unloveliness, in the constant sledging, the occasional racial slur (Darren Lehmann’s ‘black c__ts’ for example), in the pleasure the Australians take in their rep as bully boys. When I watch Ponting spit into the palms of his hands and rub them together, some shabby-genteel part of me cringes, and a stereotype is reinforced. With the exception of Adam Gilchrist (whose popularity shows you that with a sprinkling of good humour, the Aussies could have been liked, not just admired) they feel like political operators with knuckle-dusters, conducting a dirty but legal election campaign.

But like any good political machine that operates on the margins of the straight-and-narrow, the Australians have the rhetoric of respectability pat. A year or so ago, Ponting began to make pious noises about Australians setting standards of good behaviour on the field. A kinder, gentler Australian team is about as likely as the Godfather giving himself up to the olive oil trade, but Ponting knows that in these politically correct times it’s important to talk the talk. At its best the Australian team is a mafia with flair: watching Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist hoodwink, harry and hammer the opposition over the last decade has been the great spectacle of contemporary cricket.

But with McGrath in decline, and without Warne and Brett Lee, the Australians seem duller, their bowling seems efficient rather than devastating, almost South African in its sameness. Mike Hussey is a batting phenomenon: his runs, his average put him in the highest company, but there is an ordinariness, an anonymity to his presence at the crease which makes his record even more remarkable than it is. Matthew Hayden, Hussey and Ponting are fine batsmen by any measure but where Gilchrist’s genial aggression makes me grin even when it’s India that’s suffering, these three come across as bouncers working you over, not debonair bandits pulling off a heist. If the Australians were to be cast in a movie, they’d be Al Capone’s gang in The Untouchables, and I’d be rooting for Costner to bust them.

Mukul Kesavan is a writer based in New Delhi

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  • Anup on April 27, 2007, 19:55 GMT

    Tony, a bit late in responding ...... thanks for correcting my poor English, but that was more like a typo. I meant to write 'misinformedly' and missed the 'is'. Sorry for that........ But yes, the current bunch of 'failures in their primes and success past their primes' Australians are just that regarding their 'all-time ‘greatestness’'.

    Sure Nick, all the Dennis Lillees, Jeff Thompsons, Lenny Pascoes, Rodney Hoggs, Gary Gilmours, Max Walkers and Mick Malones were indeed 'past it' in the 70s and early 80s when in their 20s and very early 30s, they were being taken to the cleaners by the incomparable Batting Emperor Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards the Great both in the Packer series and after, in Australia. I also would assume then that Greg and Ian Chappells, Rodney Marsh, Kim Hughes, Geoff Marsh, David Boon, and the likes of Dean Jones were also 'past it' when in their 20s in the 70s and 80s when they were pummeled by the West Indians.

    HOWEVER, the present 'great' Australian side has the likes of Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Michael Bevan, Michael Slater, Greg Blewett and Justin Langer were all showing their true class and colors when facing Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Allan Donald and Wasim Akram in BATTING-FRIENDLY conditions typical of post-90, in the early 90s. So they got beaten up by those guys not to mention the 'great' Hayden even got a broken thumb from Donald as a bonus........... Perhaps they were all 'yet to be it' in their 20s and now are in the 'prime of their primes' in their mid and late 30s. Born champions that they are, they still need overtly batting-friendly conditions and overtly mediocre medium-pacers like the Zaheer Khans, Mohammad Asifs, Andrew Nels, James Franklins, Jerome Taylors, and Dilhara Fernandos of today to beat up.

    I have said this twice before and I am saying this again - its food........ maybe salad for thought - does not need a genius to figure out - If just ONE Shoaib Akhtar, or ONE Shane Bond or ONE Steve Harmison or ONE Makhaya Ntini with three ordinary bowlers to back them) in batting-friendly conditions, and bowling at 90 to 95 mph, has the 'great' Australian bats of today at their best hopping all over the wicket, what would ANY FOUR of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, Sylvester Clarke, Michael Holding, Wayne Daniel, the incomparable Malcolm Marshall and Patrick Patterson, all bowling at a 100 mph, and at their throats and THAT in FAR more difficult batting conditions typical of pre-90, would have the 'great' Australian bats doing? TRIPLE BACKFLIPS.

    Langer, Martyn, Bevan, Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Co would be part of a procession of bags of broken bones and torn ligaments, fractured skulls, and smashed toes ....... boy the hospitals around would be minting money ... the insurance companies would be cursing the WI.

    AND on the flipside, if the King and his knights could smash the 100 mph Lillees, Thompsons and Co to pulp, what do you think would happen of the metronome Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee? Know of the Packer Series??? Of the 153 no on a fast, bouncy treacherous Adelaide pitch by the King against peak Lillee, Thompson and Hogg at their fastest and most destructive? Your own Hughes and Allan Border rate that as the GREATEST innings ever seen by them to date.

    Whether in true conditions pre-90, or the batting-friendly conditions post-90, the Australians would be complete chicken-feed for the WI of the 70s and 80s. It would be pathetic. It would not be like batting against the Zaheers and Nels at all. The current Australian lot and ANY imaginable permutation from 90 after would be utterly, totally, completely blasted, smashed, and annihilated to fine powder.

    The current Australians dominate the WEAKEST era in cricket history where bowling is at its weakest, so is batting, and just about everything other than fielding ....... But hype and overratings are CERTAINLY at an all-time high.

  • nick mac on April 9, 2007, 6:11 GMT

    Isnt the ICC chaired at least evenly by participating countries(test status that is?) so therfore should be at least considered fair, or is just another rascist organisation until the sub east asian continents have a controlling interest in matters.LOL if it happens, what then the supporters of INDIA/PAKISTAN/BANGLADESH, burn it down when things dont go how you want HOW SAD. Tony..The PHOENIX is going to take many years to rekindle its flame mate. Too much money has been wasted in an effort to keep it going over the last humpteen yrs. Not to mention the absolute waste of cash building stadiums that the average west indian cant afford to access. I personally hope the windies get it going again and sooner the better, we need the competition. God knows there isnt much from coming from the asian basin is there? Oh and Joel, we didnt lose all the games we played against the west indies, and this team we feild now is much better than the old one where so many of the players were past it. Factor in Warne and i begin to think some would be bitterly dissapointed in the outcomes.

  • nick on April 9, 2007, 5:53 GMT

    Firstly the sledging, good or bad, i dont know but its' there isnt it? Some may be better at it than others but all have a crack at it. Even the good old windies of yesteryears.(check out some of the old footage) response to ti is simple..cant stand the heat..get out of the kitchen. Second..some mug always comes up with the comparrison of teams from today and yesterday. Fact..J.Thompson was the most feared bowler from those days..and the quickest. Because no-one, including Thommo knew where the delivery was going to end up. Fact. The game today is vastly different from years back, Training/fitness level are far superior( unless your Paki/Indian)Simply put, the game has changed and has changed alot. Now for all of you who seem to find a place on a cricket site to express indignity at past or present percieved racial ineptness of countries, will you please take it else where? I'm sure I'm not alone in this request..frankly we dont need your negative input on countries behaviour to its peoples. Where were we...SLEDGING...Hmmm I think that if you want to play like this, when it backfires you should be able to take your medicine. For the money the players are payed, they should just grin and bare it. When the games day is done..leave it on the park, have an ale or soda(whatever your pleasure), then get ready for it all over again. It comes to mind that those who complain most about it are those who have just had a loss.? Australia is fourth rate? I thnk we now hold the record of most TESTS WON CONSECUTIVELY? NOT THE WEST INDIES of yesteryear, NOT THE SINKING INDIAN teams of TODAY and CERTAINLY NOT the PAKISTAN TEAM OF MISERY OF TODAY. instead of looking to castigate a team of successfull Sportsmen, get out and give it to your obviously self indulgent players/selectors, get your own teams right, then xcome and give us a decent challenge. After all, if the closest thing you have to look at for beating us is a team from nearly 30 yr. ago, there is a bigger problem here than sledging. Unless all othersd are a bunch of thin skinned sooks who should be in grade school, not an arena playing world class sport.

  • Tony on March 27, 2007, 9:55 GMT

    Joel I didn't miss the point. I am simply sick of the sour grapes I see on display in these blogs. There is no doubt that the WI teams of the past were awesome and more than a handful for any side. However all the Australian team can do is play the best that other countries have to offer. Against the National teams of all other countries Australia has performed solidly for more than a decade. Yes Australia play mind games and yes they sledge. I know that is not everyone's idea of "fair". But "These utterly overrated, minformedly arrogant fourth-rate cheapskates"??? If you think that's a fair comment then I have indeed missed the point. (I can't hazard a guess at what "minformedly" is supposed to be but my guess is it isn't a compliment!)

  • Joel on March 26, 2007, 20:09 GMT

    tony, you have missed anup's point. Aus might CURRENTLY be the best performing team in the world but their best day would not be able to stand against a mediocre day from the WI of the 80's. they would be blown away like so much chaff. Also, with the new infrastructure and Stanford 20/20 money in WI coffers, the phoenix (and spiritual kings) of cricket will soon rise again. watch this space, all ye doubters!!!

  • Tony on March 26, 2007, 16:57 GMT

    Anup those are very foolish comments. Mediocre teams don't win 2 World Cups in a row. Oh sorry...make that 3.

  • Anup on March 26, 2007, 2:50 GMT

    Its good that our Indian and Pakistan teams are clearing out from that garbage-dump that the various cricketing venues in the beautiful Caribbean are turning into...

    Anyway, the nerve of ...people to even think of even comparing the hundreds of times superior WI teams of the 70s and 80s to any of these ...Aus outfits of the last 15 years this era, I have already blown that nerve to bits in my first post here and for good.

    Now On the 'greatness' of the current Aus team - To get a closer, better look, we only need to confine ourselves entirely to the 1990 and after era and see what exactly this team's 'great' bats were doing in the early and mid 90s - esp considering that almost all of them were around even then in their early twenties. THEN, keeping even those wonderful batting conditions typical of the 1990 and after period intact, AND in their very own backyards at home, these 'great' Haydens, Martyns, Langers, Blewetts, Slaters, Bevans etc in their PRIMES were all at sea facing the likes of Walsh, Ambrose, Donald, Wasim, Waqar at their peaks. These 'great' Aus bats of today were crawling at the feet of those great bowlers with their noses along the ground. AND then the 90s went by, till came the 99/00/01 period which saw the departure of these very great men - Ambrose, then Walsh, followed by Wasim and Donald and then Waqar etc.

    AND CURIOUSLY ITS NOW, that this 'great' Aus team starts their so-called domination in an era where there is NOT ONE bowler - pace or spin - in any team worthy of all-time stature. A period when not just bowling, its pace and everything included, even batting and just abolutely every other aspect of the game is at its very TROUGH - a reverse peak - a shameful lowest of the low. This Aus is dominating an era where the game is at its very nadir, a slide that started from around '90 and kept accelerating through the years.

    Indeed this Aus team has the right to be proud of at least this much - Man, they were kids at 22 and 23 when they were crushed by the 25 to 30 years old Walsh, Ambrose, Donald, Wasim, Waqar. However we non-Aussies (and some Aussies too I must say to be fair there are decent ones among them) fail to realize that those 'kids' have now 'grown-up' and in their early and mid thirties are flaying the slow and medium pace bowling of the likes of Zaheer and Pathan and others many of whom are still to turn 20, but are big mature men with greater talent and experience than Walsh, Donald or Wasim.

    In other words, the current Aussies have batsmen who at their peaks could do next to nothing against the likes of Walsh, Donald and Wasim at their best, and for the last few years probably past their primes, have been hammering the likes of Zaheer, Sami, Pathan, Vaas and such gentle medium-pacers. That is the 'greatness' of this Aus team, that greatness that we acknowledge, that the current Aussies do not want us to acknowledge, that we still do so even then irks them and brings out their true colors.

    I hope WI or SA or SL wake up, play to their potentials and put the Aus bumnch of ...mediocres in their place. WI and SL have a better chance in my opinion though SA is overall stronger. Why I choose WI(anyway my all-time favorite) and SL(our Southern brothers) are, all sentimental attachments apart, the presence of Taylor and Malinga in their teams. They are not 100+mph bowlers, a group that has disappeared since '90, and a few of whom |I had named in my post above. But at their quickest they are almost as quick as Waqar, Donald and Malcolm(Eng) in the early 90s, and as fast as Shoaib, Lee, Bond, Harmison and Tait now. In this lot Shoaib and Bond are the most talented but I am sure that at their best, Taylor and Malinga can match them.

    Even in this era's batting-friendly conditions, we have seen both Shaoib and Bond destroy the best of current Aus batsmen single-handedly with no support from the other bowlers. If they can do it so can Taylor and Malinga. One of them need to do it. These utterly overrated, minformedly arrogant fourth-rate cheapskates need to be taught a lesson that for their entire remaining lives they should learning from.

  • Tony on March 25, 2007, 6:43 GMT

    I would have thought an Indian would be too busy looking for another player's house to burn down than pontificating about how nasty the Australian players are. I'm sure the Indian team are all lovely men. I hope they have a lovely trip home from the World Cup after the first round.

  • rahul on March 23, 2007, 21:19 GMT

    so now that India have lost in the first round itself... I wud like to see how many oz players can actually wear a shirt.. most of it is sponsored by India anyway.. look at Brett Lee or Ponting.. thry do an Ad here for a liquor company..l after Ponting's commenst against Gavaskar, or the Indian cricket team, whi is going to give then the money.. its great to talk about performance mate.. but the dough comes down from here in India.. look at the kinda money ICC (a Mr. Speed.. who also happens to be an oz) is going to lose now.. andits going to be very gud fun in furture mate.. u dont wanna play with India.. u dont get the big bucks.. r u ready for that.. our team mite be crap.. but u still have to play with us

  • NT on March 18, 2007, 22:32 GMT

    Australian team are typical bullies and cowards. All there bravado is when there are two batsmen and eleven of their own on the field. Even then they cant handle it if given back in style. Unfortunately most cricketing nations have ingrained in them that cricket is a gentelemans game and the old adage of its not whether you win or loose but how you play the game that matters. Australia plays the exact oppsite because they will try to win at any cost, anyway they can bordering on illegality . It is all about money. The Australian public want to see winners because there are so many other sports they are competing against. All the player contracts, advertising contracts, reierement plans, luxurious lifestyles depend on how ruthless winners they are. Warne and Mcgrath would not have half the succsess with the same skills if not for intimidation and sledging by himself and his team mates not only to the opposing batsmen but also intimidation of umpires. Another factor for this behviour is the catering for a inreasingly uncivilized spectator base who do not appreciate cricket but have this false sense of nationalism & racial superiority. Some of the players themselves come from this background. They forget all the wonderful infrastructure in place and the massive investment from childhood perhaps the best in the world which has got them playing at this level. To conclude lets not forget that the Australian team are just a bunch of selfish bullies with massive egos who are just playing for money and celebrity status. They will probably win the world cup but they shall reap what they sow as all bullies do in the end. The message for other teams is know them for what they are and be more detrmined not to fall into their traps.

  • Anup on April 27, 2007, 19:55 GMT

    Tony, a bit late in responding ...... thanks for correcting my poor English, but that was more like a typo. I meant to write 'misinformedly' and missed the 'is'. Sorry for that........ But yes, the current bunch of 'failures in their primes and success past their primes' Australians are just that regarding their 'all-time ‘greatestness’'.

    Sure Nick, all the Dennis Lillees, Jeff Thompsons, Lenny Pascoes, Rodney Hoggs, Gary Gilmours, Max Walkers and Mick Malones were indeed 'past it' in the 70s and early 80s when in their 20s and very early 30s, they were being taken to the cleaners by the incomparable Batting Emperor Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards the Great both in the Packer series and after, in Australia. I also would assume then that Greg and Ian Chappells, Rodney Marsh, Kim Hughes, Geoff Marsh, David Boon, and the likes of Dean Jones were also 'past it' when in their 20s in the 70s and 80s when they were pummeled by the West Indians.

    HOWEVER, the present 'great' Australian side has the likes of Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Michael Bevan, Michael Slater, Greg Blewett and Justin Langer were all showing their true class and colors when facing Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Allan Donald and Wasim Akram in BATTING-FRIENDLY conditions typical of post-90, in the early 90s. So they got beaten up by those guys not to mention the 'great' Hayden even got a broken thumb from Donald as a bonus........... Perhaps they were all 'yet to be it' in their 20s and now are in the 'prime of their primes' in their mid and late 30s. Born champions that they are, they still need overtly batting-friendly conditions and overtly mediocre medium-pacers like the Zaheer Khans, Mohammad Asifs, Andrew Nels, James Franklins, Jerome Taylors, and Dilhara Fernandos of today to beat up.

    I have said this twice before and I am saying this again - its food........ maybe salad for thought - does not need a genius to figure out - If just ONE Shoaib Akhtar, or ONE Shane Bond or ONE Steve Harmison or ONE Makhaya Ntini with three ordinary bowlers to back them) in batting-friendly conditions, and bowling at 90 to 95 mph, has the 'great' Australian bats of today at their best hopping all over the wicket, what would ANY FOUR of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, Sylvester Clarke, Michael Holding, Wayne Daniel, the incomparable Malcolm Marshall and Patrick Patterson, all bowling at a 100 mph, and at their throats and THAT in FAR more difficult batting conditions typical of pre-90, would have the 'great' Australian bats doing? TRIPLE BACKFLIPS.

    Langer, Martyn, Bevan, Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Co would be part of a procession of bags of broken bones and torn ligaments, fractured skulls, and smashed toes ....... boy the hospitals around would be minting money ... the insurance companies would be cursing the WI.

    AND on the flipside, if the King and his knights could smash the 100 mph Lillees, Thompsons and Co to pulp, what do you think would happen of the metronome Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee? Know of the Packer Series??? Of the 153 no on a fast, bouncy treacherous Adelaide pitch by the King against peak Lillee, Thompson and Hogg at their fastest and most destructive? Your own Hughes and Allan Border rate that as the GREATEST innings ever seen by them to date.

    Whether in true conditions pre-90, or the batting-friendly conditions post-90, the Australians would be complete chicken-feed for the WI of the 70s and 80s. It would be pathetic. It would not be like batting against the Zaheers and Nels at all. The current Australian lot and ANY imaginable permutation from 90 after would be utterly, totally, completely blasted, smashed, and annihilated to fine powder.

    The current Australians dominate the WEAKEST era in cricket history where bowling is at its weakest, so is batting, and just about everything other than fielding ....... But hype and overratings are CERTAINLY at an all-time high.

  • nick mac on April 9, 2007, 6:11 GMT

    Isnt the ICC chaired at least evenly by participating countries(test status that is?) so therfore should be at least considered fair, or is just another rascist organisation until the sub east asian continents have a controlling interest in matters.LOL if it happens, what then the supporters of INDIA/PAKISTAN/BANGLADESH, burn it down when things dont go how you want HOW SAD. Tony..The PHOENIX is going to take many years to rekindle its flame mate. Too much money has been wasted in an effort to keep it going over the last humpteen yrs. Not to mention the absolute waste of cash building stadiums that the average west indian cant afford to access. I personally hope the windies get it going again and sooner the better, we need the competition. God knows there isnt much from coming from the asian basin is there? Oh and Joel, we didnt lose all the games we played against the west indies, and this team we feild now is much better than the old one where so many of the players were past it. Factor in Warne and i begin to think some would be bitterly dissapointed in the outcomes.

  • nick on April 9, 2007, 5:53 GMT

    Firstly the sledging, good or bad, i dont know but its' there isnt it? Some may be better at it than others but all have a crack at it. Even the good old windies of yesteryears.(check out some of the old footage) response to ti is simple..cant stand the heat..get out of the kitchen. Second..some mug always comes up with the comparrison of teams from today and yesterday. Fact..J.Thompson was the most feared bowler from those days..and the quickest. Because no-one, including Thommo knew where the delivery was going to end up. Fact. The game today is vastly different from years back, Training/fitness level are far superior( unless your Paki/Indian)Simply put, the game has changed and has changed alot. Now for all of you who seem to find a place on a cricket site to express indignity at past or present percieved racial ineptness of countries, will you please take it else where? I'm sure I'm not alone in this request..frankly we dont need your negative input on countries behaviour to its peoples. Where were we...SLEDGING...Hmmm I think that if you want to play like this, when it backfires you should be able to take your medicine. For the money the players are payed, they should just grin and bare it. When the games day is done..leave it on the park, have an ale or soda(whatever your pleasure), then get ready for it all over again. It comes to mind that those who complain most about it are those who have just had a loss.? Australia is fourth rate? I thnk we now hold the record of most TESTS WON CONSECUTIVELY? NOT THE WEST INDIES of yesteryear, NOT THE SINKING INDIAN teams of TODAY and CERTAINLY NOT the PAKISTAN TEAM OF MISERY OF TODAY. instead of looking to castigate a team of successfull Sportsmen, get out and give it to your obviously self indulgent players/selectors, get your own teams right, then xcome and give us a decent challenge. After all, if the closest thing you have to look at for beating us is a team from nearly 30 yr. ago, there is a bigger problem here than sledging. Unless all othersd are a bunch of thin skinned sooks who should be in grade school, not an arena playing world class sport.

  • Tony on March 27, 2007, 9:55 GMT

    Joel I didn't miss the point. I am simply sick of the sour grapes I see on display in these blogs. There is no doubt that the WI teams of the past were awesome and more than a handful for any side. However all the Australian team can do is play the best that other countries have to offer. Against the National teams of all other countries Australia has performed solidly for more than a decade. Yes Australia play mind games and yes they sledge. I know that is not everyone's idea of "fair". But "These utterly overrated, minformedly arrogant fourth-rate cheapskates"??? If you think that's a fair comment then I have indeed missed the point. (I can't hazard a guess at what "minformedly" is supposed to be but my guess is it isn't a compliment!)

  • Joel on March 26, 2007, 20:09 GMT

    tony, you have missed anup's point. Aus might CURRENTLY be the best performing team in the world but their best day would not be able to stand against a mediocre day from the WI of the 80's. they would be blown away like so much chaff. Also, with the new infrastructure and Stanford 20/20 money in WI coffers, the phoenix (and spiritual kings) of cricket will soon rise again. watch this space, all ye doubters!!!

  • Tony on March 26, 2007, 16:57 GMT

    Anup those are very foolish comments. Mediocre teams don't win 2 World Cups in a row. Oh sorry...make that 3.

  • Anup on March 26, 2007, 2:50 GMT

    Its good that our Indian and Pakistan teams are clearing out from that garbage-dump that the various cricketing venues in the beautiful Caribbean are turning into...

    Anyway, the nerve of ...people to even think of even comparing the hundreds of times superior WI teams of the 70s and 80s to any of these ...Aus outfits of the last 15 years this era, I have already blown that nerve to bits in my first post here and for good.

    Now On the 'greatness' of the current Aus team - To get a closer, better look, we only need to confine ourselves entirely to the 1990 and after era and see what exactly this team's 'great' bats were doing in the early and mid 90s - esp considering that almost all of them were around even then in their early twenties. THEN, keeping even those wonderful batting conditions typical of the 1990 and after period intact, AND in their very own backyards at home, these 'great' Haydens, Martyns, Langers, Blewetts, Slaters, Bevans etc in their PRIMES were all at sea facing the likes of Walsh, Ambrose, Donald, Wasim, Waqar at their peaks. These 'great' Aus bats of today were crawling at the feet of those great bowlers with their noses along the ground. AND then the 90s went by, till came the 99/00/01 period which saw the departure of these very great men - Ambrose, then Walsh, followed by Wasim and Donald and then Waqar etc.

    AND CURIOUSLY ITS NOW, that this 'great' Aus team starts their so-called domination in an era where there is NOT ONE bowler - pace or spin - in any team worthy of all-time stature. A period when not just bowling, its pace and everything included, even batting and just abolutely every other aspect of the game is at its very TROUGH - a reverse peak - a shameful lowest of the low. This Aus is dominating an era where the game is at its very nadir, a slide that started from around '90 and kept accelerating through the years.

    Indeed this Aus team has the right to be proud of at least this much - Man, they were kids at 22 and 23 when they were crushed by the 25 to 30 years old Walsh, Ambrose, Donald, Wasim, Waqar. However we non-Aussies (and some Aussies too I must say to be fair there are decent ones among them) fail to realize that those 'kids' have now 'grown-up' and in their early and mid thirties are flaying the slow and medium pace bowling of the likes of Zaheer and Pathan and others many of whom are still to turn 20, but are big mature men with greater talent and experience than Walsh, Donald or Wasim.

    In other words, the current Aussies have batsmen who at their peaks could do next to nothing against the likes of Walsh, Donald and Wasim at their best, and for the last few years probably past their primes, have been hammering the likes of Zaheer, Sami, Pathan, Vaas and such gentle medium-pacers. That is the 'greatness' of this Aus team, that greatness that we acknowledge, that the current Aussies do not want us to acknowledge, that we still do so even then irks them and brings out their true colors.

    I hope WI or SA or SL wake up, play to their potentials and put the Aus bumnch of ...mediocres in their place. WI and SL have a better chance in my opinion though SA is overall stronger. Why I choose WI(anyway my all-time favorite) and SL(our Southern brothers) are, all sentimental attachments apart, the presence of Taylor and Malinga in their teams. They are not 100+mph bowlers, a group that has disappeared since '90, and a few of whom |I had named in my post above. But at their quickest they are almost as quick as Waqar, Donald and Malcolm(Eng) in the early 90s, and as fast as Shoaib, Lee, Bond, Harmison and Tait now. In this lot Shoaib and Bond are the most talented but I am sure that at their best, Taylor and Malinga can match them.

    Even in this era's batting-friendly conditions, we have seen both Shaoib and Bond destroy the best of current Aus batsmen single-handedly with no support from the other bowlers. If they can do it so can Taylor and Malinga. One of them need to do it. These utterly overrated, minformedly arrogant fourth-rate cheapskates need to be taught a lesson that for their entire remaining lives they should learning from.

  • Tony on March 25, 2007, 6:43 GMT

    I would have thought an Indian would be too busy looking for another player's house to burn down than pontificating about how nasty the Australian players are. I'm sure the Indian team are all lovely men. I hope they have a lovely trip home from the World Cup after the first round.

  • rahul on March 23, 2007, 21:19 GMT

    so now that India have lost in the first round itself... I wud like to see how many oz players can actually wear a shirt.. most of it is sponsored by India anyway.. look at Brett Lee or Ponting.. thry do an Ad here for a liquor company..l after Ponting's commenst against Gavaskar, or the Indian cricket team, whi is going to give then the money.. its great to talk about performance mate.. but the dough comes down from here in India.. look at the kinda money ICC (a Mr. Speed.. who also happens to be an oz) is going to lose now.. andits going to be very gud fun in furture mate.. u dont wanna play with India.. u dont get the big bucks.. r u ready for that.. our team mite be crap.. but u still have to play with us

  • NT on March 18, 2007, 22:32 GMT

    Australian team are typical bullies and cowards. All there bravado is when there are two batsmen and eleven of their own on the field. Even then they cant handle it if given back in style. Unfortunately most cricketing nations have ingrained in them that cricket is a gentelemans game and the old adage of its not whether you win or loose but how you play the game that matters. Australia plays the exact oppsite because they will try to win at any cost, anyway they can bordering on illegality . It is all about money. The Australian public want to see winners because there are so many other sports they are competing against. All the player contracts, advertising contracts, reierement plans, luxurious lifestyles depend on how ruthless winners they are. Warne and Mcgrath would not have half the succsess with the same skills if not for intimidation and sledging by himself and his team mates not only to the opposing batsmen but also intimidation of umpires. Another factor for this behviour is the catering for a inreasingly uncivilized spectator base who do not appreciate cricket but have this false sense of nationalism & racial superiority. Some of the players themselves come from this background. They forget all the wonderful infrastructure in place and the massive investment from childhood perhaps the best in the world which has got them playing at this level. To conclude lets not forget that the Australian team are just a bunch of selfish bullies with massive egos who are just playing for money and celebrity status. They will probably win the world cup but they shall reap what they sow as all bullies do in the end. The message for other teams is know them for what they are and be more detrmined not to fall into their traps.

  • Anup on March 17, 2007, 1:15 GMT

    All this talk of the present Aus team (or ANY Aus team conceivable in the last 10 years) being even one-hundredth part of any of those WI teams of the 70s and 80s is sheer bull. If the WI of the 70s/80s were to play any Aus team of the present era on those superfast, ultra-treacherous tracks of the 70s and 80s, any four of Roberts, Garner, Croft, Clarke, Holding and Marshall would blast and blow out the Aus batsmen with their 100+mph missiles for less than 100 within 30 overs whether they were to bat first or second. Batting second, the WI would probably seal the match by chasing down the target in less than 20 overs with all 10 wickets intact, and if batting first, they would score at least 250-300 and inflict a defeat of 150+ runs.

    The only hope that Aus could have of PUTTING UP DECENT FIGURES would be to play the WI in the typical post-90 era conditions - with protective gear, batsman-favoring rules, all the financial security that they did not have back then, and above all flat, lifeless tracks which would be a hundred times easier to bat on than in the 70s/80s. Even then I would say the Aus would be handed down the biggest defeat in cricket history - both in ODIs and in Tests as well.

    There is a reason why they are doing so well. ALL the other teams are going through a lean patch wrt talent or execution. The present Aus team are a bunch of failures who, even in the batsman-friendly conditions of the early 90s, in their very own backyard, could not stand upto to prime Walsh, Ambrose and Donald - ones like Martyn, Hayden, Langer, Blewett, Slater etc were all at sea against them. Now with all the batsman-favoring conditions, their cheating umpires, the presence of minnows like Sl and Zim (who the WI of the 70s and 80s almost never played back then), they are racking up record after record. From around when they started dominating 99/00/01, there has hardly been any legendary batsman or bowler playing in their primes in the other teams - some have retired and those that havent could do so any moment.

    In the case of each and every team, the 70s and 80s teams were FAR superior to their present descendants - Each and every team had megastars and superstars of the ultimate abilities. As Imran said, There were more great fast bowlers and 100 mph bowlers and bowlers who could be put in both categories, in so many teams - ALL playing in their very primes - Lillee, Thompson, Pascoe, Hogg for Aus; Snow, Botham, Willis for Eng; Kapil for Ind; Imran, Nawaz for Pak; Hadlee for NZ; Le Roux for SA etc. And these are only the greatest and the other greats. The four greatest allrounders after Sobers - Kapil, Imran, Hadlee and Botham all played then - for teams other than WI. Looking at the batting of the 70s/80s will probably make the scenario a bloody joke. For some 20 years, the WI did not lose a test series away or at home and excelled in ODIs as well, they would have won three World Cups straight but for a stroke of brilliance by their '83 Finals opponents. Why the WI of the 70s/80s, even the Aus, Ind, Pak and Eng teams then and the Aus of 1948 were far superior to this side.

    Keeping these batsman-friendly conditions intact, and even then at home, an on-song Shoaib and a fit Bond have single-handedly destroyed the best of current Aus batting lineups more than once, that too when all of them were at peak. With the WI, they would be facing FOUR bowlers at at least a 100mph and so at least a wee bit faster than Shoiab or Bond (and Lee, Tait etc) and with much higher quality too. Aus will be lucky to get even 100 then. The WI team was a hundred times better in any conceivable respect and would blow away the current Aus 10 out of 10 times. More debatable will be how huge the margins of defeat would be.

    Having said all of that, its true that this Aus side tries to win at all costs. They might not be bad people personally - esp Gilchrist is very nice. They however do everything possible to destroy the opponents' concentration and confidence, and win by hook or by crook - at least 30% of their success could be attributed to that. Its high time that teams like our Ind justified their batting potential, and those like Pak their bowling prowess. The void left behind by the retirement of the likes of Walsh, Ambrose, Wasim, Waqar, Anwar, Donald etc in the late 90s and more recently, and the decline of those like Lara, Tendulkar etc cannot be redeemed in the near future, but definitely they can be compensated for greatly. Also, this would teach the present HIGHLY overrated bunch of crappy mediocres a lesson and put them in their place once and for all. The onus is on other teams - esp Ind, Pak, SA and Eng who have the talent to do it, having greater ability than the Aus, but not the execution.

  • Sunil on March 15, 2007, 4:37 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar’s recent war of words with Ricky Ponting has hit a new low with Gavaskar’s disgraceful swipe at the tragic death of David Hookes. As an Indian born Australian, I was appalled and embarrassed by this feeble attempt to make his point. Having lived in Australia since an early age and been raised, educated and played sport extensively here, I am extremely proud to be Australian and proud of the way Australians play sport; tough and uncompromising, but fair. If Gavaskar had seen sport in Australia growing up as I have, he would see that Australians are without doubt one of the friendliest, most accepting people on earth and whilst they play sport hard, they’re the first to show admiration for courage, fight and determination. Indian cricket, acceptable at best, will never achieve the success that Australia has until it stops making excuses and take accountability for its own performances. Also, for Gavaskar to talk about winning bar fights, I doubt he has ever even been close to one.

  • Joel on March 14, 2007, 19:46 GMT

    Nick Schneider, I thought you had dragged your dyslexic sorry self off this blog? why are you back? As to your last comment, why do you think Australia A would want to play with Australia? no, they would be there on their own, sitting on their hands with no friends at all, as I suspect you do frequently.

  • Nick Schneider on March 14, 2007, 12:41 GMT

    The solution to sledging is simple......I suggest we divide the cricket nations into two or three leagues.

    Groupe One would consist of the mean nasty sledging nations.

    Group Two would be the whingers and whiners league.

    Group Three would include only the purest of the pure.

    Oh and yes I know that 99% of you would have Australia playing Australia A in group one...LOL.

  • Anon on March 13, 2007, 19:20 GMT

    The best way to respond to sledging is to hit the next ball for a sixer. That usually shuts a sledger up.

  • Jono on March 13, 2007, 5:31 GMT

    'rooting'? that's a seppo word if ever i heard one! has no business on in a cricket-based forum! cheers

  • Taufik on March 12, 2007, 9:31 GMT

    Perfect response ani.

  • Tommy P. on March 11, 2007, 13:57 GMT

    THIS IS AIMED AT MICHAEL:

    Dear Michael,

    You wrote the following in response to Kunal:

    If you want real racism, how about faction A mass murdering thousands of faction B, civil wars based on religious sub groups, caste based rape, bashings and the subsequent blind eye turned by police, or the harbouring of terrorists who think killing any person with a white skin is "gods work"? My country has none of these things my friend, but yours has at least one.

    Listen mate, I am the product of Anglo-Irish convict ancestry. You cannot accuse me of the bias you seem to believe eminates from the subcontinent (and btw i think the indian/pakistani commentary here has been significantly less biased and more eloquent than the Aussie stuff). I have got to point out that our country has experienced more than one of these human rights abuses.

    Faction A mass murdering thousands of faction B? Try the horrifuc massacres of Aboriginal people throughout Australia and Tasmania.

    Civil wars based on religious sub groups? The racist riots in Cronulla last year were pretty violent and were certainly sparked by racial tension. I don't believe that you can assume anything about the political situation in Kunal's homeland without some in-depth research.

    Caste based rape? How about the white men who abused hundreds of native women in this country? Or the numerous cases of domestic violence which pop up repeatedly on our news and current affairs programs.

    Bashings and the subsequent blind eye turned by police? The police forces in Victoria and my state of Queensland have faced allegations of massive corruption, even turning a blind eye to gangland killings. The harbouring of terrorists who think killing any person with a white skin is "gods work"? Try the many extreme racists in Australia who give the rest of us a bad name with their prejudice against anyone who isn't like them? The genecide purpetrated against the Indigenous people saw many more killed than 9/11 or the Bali Bombings.

    As for your concluding statement, "my country has none of these things my friend, but yours has at least one"? Reconsider mate. Don't be such a hypocrite. From one of your countrymen.

  • ani on March 11, 2007, 5:24 GMT

    @ caro: Caste and class are not synonymous. So a Brahmin like Mukul Kesavan (if he is one!) might well have "working class" roots (whether or not he actually does I haven't the faintest idea). As for non-Brahmin "working class boys", how about Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh or Mahendra Dhoni? And yes, wife-burning - bad, in fact, a big bad. Do you see any Indians on this blog defending it? Sledging - also bad, but a small, small bad. See a number of Australians defending it? That's the s..t people are talking about here - you got a genuine defence of sledging, say it. We're glad to hear. If your defence is it's better than wife-burning, you're an idiot.

  • Joel on March 10, 2007, 8:10 GMT

    Hey it seems there is an Aussie with the same online name as myself, but a much more defiantly defensive slant towards sledging.

    "Sledging" as a term however, does not cover offensive behaviour, nor does it excuse it. you say that your culture allows comments about family(esp female relatives,it seems) but it hits home when it is turned around. take for example two famous incidents. Eddo brandes was asked by (an Aus bowler) "why are you so fat", to which the reply was "because everytime i sh*g your wife she gives me a biscuit", The bowler was then incensed, but it served him right.

    the second was when (a bowler) asked Sarwan "How does Brian Lara's c**k taste?" to which the off the cuff reply was "ask your wife". the bowler was incensed, and nearly hit the batsman. now anyone who knows anything about Caribbean culture would know that this is a typical reply to insultive behaviour from annoying people. Sarwan did not know the( bowler's) wife, NOR DID HE NEED TO!!! he was just trying to shut up the moron on the other end of the exchange.

    McGrath therefore is just a bully, plain and simple. And what is worse he is a coward who can't take his own medicine.

    This is the sort of behaviour which the rest of the world deems Austalian cricket's (read steve waugh) Greatest legacy of the past decade.

  • Joel on March 10, 2007, 7:04 GMT

    Why do the Australian's sledge? Because it works. If it did not work they would not do it. What does it say about the Mental Strength of the rest of the teams in world cricket?

    Secondly, the repeated accusations that Australia is a racist Society are quite untrue. Sure,we like any other nation have racist elements-but the vast majority of Australians are not racist. The much publicized Cronulla riots for example disgusted the vast majority of the Population.

    Much of the debate over sledging is caused by different cultures- When playing sport in Australia it is considered perfectly acceptable to make comments about an opponents family, sexuality etc.

  • Caro on March 9, 2007, 6:14 GMT

    What a laugh, MUkul Kesavan! Let me guess, you're from the Brahmin class, like most Indian cricketers. Where are the "untouchables" in your team? Perhaps if you had a few workingclass boys like McGrath and Ponting in your team, India could finallly put its money where its mouth is. "Oh dear, not grubby lower caste boys" you say, your shabby-genteel part cringing again, "what will our gentlemen's game be if we let in all that riff-raff? "

    Personally, give me sledging any day over wife-burning.

  • Mohsin Malik - San Francisco Bay Area on March 8, 2007, 3:50 GMT

    For Mawali:

    Thanks buddy, for lending a helping hand to David. His distraction was handled in style.

    Like your good selves, this writer regularly shares thoughts and ideas on Pakspin about the current state of cricket affairs in good faith.

    David took a swipe in disdain but to no avail. He is more than welcome to contribute in a positive frame of mind on any blog across the board on cricinfo!

    No more controversies. Enjoy your cricket!

  • marcus on March 7, 2007, 23:36 GMT

    Jogesh, if your post was about Australian behaviour, then you could just as easily have talked about behaviour on the field, allegations of racist behaviour to the South Africans, the infamous Cronulla riots and things of that nature, as those are all relevant to the conversation. Linking those things to how we treated the Abrogines (years before I personally was born) does smack of singling us out. For the record, of course we need to re-examine ourselves (like everyone else), and there has in fact been a national movement to do that for many years, starting with the education system. But that's not the point. If you're going to suggest that we're a boorish, borderline racist country based on our past, then that has to applied to every nation in the world (not just the "whitey" ones), and that just isn't practical.

  • Mawali on March 7, 2007, 20:45 GMT

    Sledging in sports is a universal phenomenon and not really restricted to any one culture or sport. As an ardent fan of basketball both at the college level as well as the NBA, I know that sledging is and has become an integral part of the game. While, standing at the foul line waiting for the rebound, players exchange all sorts of pleasantries that involve all the dearest members of the opposing team member’s family. Michael Jordan the king of basketball was known to be an artist of sledging. The argument is not whether to sledge or not to sledge, but how good are you, if you got caught sledging than you’re the bane of society and lowliest of all human beings. On the other hand if no one ever found out or dare to point a finger at you than you are a true gentleman of the sport. As if to say we play sports to separate the cultured from the uncouth.

    Now, to comment on the completely asinine remarks of the poster named or with a handle David. I quote his post in part to respond to his outrageous accusations:

    “Posted by: David 2 days, 1 hour ago Johanne, The most racist cricket culture appears to be that of Pakistan...just read the comments on the Pak Spin blog. “

    David, what is this; stupid took a break and you are filling in?. The discussion underway on this blog is sledging in sports particularly, the Australian cricket team restricted to Sledging and NOT RACISM. I failed to see even one reference in this article where the author was accusing the racist cricket culture of Australia to include the fans for the antics of the Australian players. To point to another blog and take the comments posted on it to represent racist cricket culture borders on delusional escapist mindset. Mind you the premise primarily on Pakspin is for FANS of Pakistan cricket (to include everybody) express their opinions and their frustrations at the state of affairs of Pakistan Cricket not about Cricket Australia or any other God forsaken land or culture. Pakistani’s are quite passionate about their cricket, and an opportunity such as Pakspin is a harmless way to vent and share. I happen to be a regular contributor to Pakspin and I can say with confidence that the majority of the posters on that blog are contributors debating issues and personalities directly related to Pakistan cricket. Sure there are always a few who tend to get carried away like your self and stray away from the subject.

    David, you are a schmegeggie I think your village is looking for you. Please return! AMF!

  • Kunal on March 7, 2007, 18:47 GMT

    "If you want real racism, how about faction A mass murdering...."

    Michael, So you are implying that racism based on caste/religious groups is indeed the "real" racism and what happens in foreign countries is "not in the class of REAL?" Way to go, my friend. I guess, then the number of times a few of my friends in australia have gotten beaten, because of the skin color, haven't faced the right form of racism. In your words, the REAL racism.

  • Suresh on March 7, 2007, 12:31 GMT

    I am back after a longish pause and in the meantime read various opinions posted. I am amazed at the number of people who believe that being a great sportsman gives one a right to insult others verbally and in an obscene manner. Its an insult to the dignity of the person being abused and has nothing to do with his sporting credentials. One may not know how to hold a bat but that does not mean he should silently cop the abuse from champions like Mcgrath, Warne, Nel and others. Many have said that sledging is fine but it should not be personal. The problem is there is no universal acceptance to what is personal and what is not and everyone has his own limit set. Mr Mcgrath obviously has a very liberal limit set for himself and a very stringent one for others.

    In my view sport is a contest of skill and sporting abilities and should remain that. A true champion sportsman will never need to resort to these lowly tactics since he should have immense confidence in himself and his skills to overcome the opposition.

    Another view was a comparison between the west Indian side of 80s and how they intimidated the opposition physically. I don't think bowlers like Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Courtney Walsh, Malcom Marshall ever had to sledge the batsmen the way Mcgrath, Nel and company does. As far as intimidatory bowling is concerned, I still think its a contest of skill and the bowler is entitled to do everything within the framework of laws prevailing to get the batsman out. That can never be compared with the verbal abuse heaped on the opposition by the current greats.

  • neral on March 7, 2007, 12:19 GMT

    Aussie team is in total free fall. warne jumped off the sinking ship.

    AUSTRALIA WON'T MAKE IT THROUGH THE OPENING STAGES.

    Mark my words.

  • Raj on March 7, 2007, 12:04 GMT

    Ian James, The only thing you are not importing these days are sportsmem (you see, you cannot get good quality chinese sportmen at low costs!!). Infact, your hightly educated lot comprises mainly of Indians.

    I look forward to your opinions (only after you read Jogesh's suggested articles).

  • Jogesh on March 7, 2007, 11:37 GMT

    Marcus, What do you mean why do i single you out, some elementary reasoning missing here dear boy, the discussion is about Australian behaviour, thats why. I did not claim that india does not have a terrible and violent past, or present for that matter, the misguided Ian did that about 'his' country. He needs to be enlightened about his glorius heritage like many whiteys - are you also one of them?

    Or are you suggesting that no amount of fact will ever get you to reexamine yourselves, so why bother? You may be right.

    Of course the US, Britian and Australia dont have dictators, after all dictators seize power by violent means - these countries actually elect their mass murderers. Maybe you can add Gujarat to your neo-colonial ventures, we'll gladly let you have it.

  • Sameer on March 7, 2007, 11:02 GMT

    Even though it may be true that the Australians excel in sledging, I do not blame them for this. The point is, what has ICC done to prevent this, if it is so unsportsmanlike? ICC was chaired by an Indian for 3 years and then by a Pakistani for another 3. And this was all when the Aussies were at the peak of their form and thus, at the peak of sledging. What have they done to stop this, if it is a disgrace to the sport? I do not believe that the Aussies have such a clout in the ICC that nobody is powerful enough to stop players from sledging.

    If you leave in a land of lawlessness, would you not be tempted to act mean and to your own advantage? I bet you will. So why blame the Aussies?

    There are 2 ways to tackle this menace:

    1. Administratively, the ICC tends to the whining babies and takes steps to prevent sledging

    OR

    2. Better still, the players from the other teams let their game do the talking and pay the Aussies back with their bats and the ball.

    Until then, it will remain a story of sour grapes.

  • Keith on March 7, 2007, 9:57 GMT

    The aussies have earned the right to be arrogant. The results speak for themselves. They do not have the right however to become slanderous /personal when dishing out their tripe!! Lets face it how many nice aussies do ya know?????? Jokes mate, it is a game that should be treated as that. Sledge yes, become personal NO. You can sledge in a diginified manner though, try viv richards and the boys: the best test side to ever have graced the fields of cricket and they did it like gentlemen!!

  • Theena on March 7, 2007, 9:19 GMT

    As always, a thought-provoking article, Mr Kesavan.

    I'd like to address the issue of Aussie arrogance first. I subscribe to the view that most champions will have a haughty, arrogant persona. In a team that had so many individual champions, such conceitedness would obviously multiply. While that certainly doesn't justify the sledging that Aussies dish out - and I'll argue that sledging (within acceptable limits) gives so much color to cricket; remember Nel vs Shreeshanth last December? - people make it sound like it is only this team that is guilty of it.

    Please….

    One has to only see the South African team - led by Nel again - to understand that sledging is not merely an Australian weapon. But we ignore that because the South Africans are the perennial underdogs who are deserving of our support, and the Australians are the bullies who should be condemned for employing something so basic.

    As always, Ian Chappell has the best input: “Cricket is 75% mental and 25% physical”. In short, if you don’t’ have the mental strength, don’t play cricket. The Aussies understand this better than anyone else. Its time the others learnt this lesson as well.

    Secondly to Ian James: beautifully put, sir.

  • marcus on March 7, 2007, 9:16 GMT

    Jogesh, every Australian could read every single one of your articles, and it still wouldn't prove a thing. 2000 years ago, the Romans conquered the ancient world and killed a lot of people; 1000 years ago the Normans conquered Britain and killed a lot of people; a few hundred years ago, the British, Portugese, Spanish and French spread everywhere and killed a lot of people, and all this while ancient tribes were at war with and murdering each other. If you're going to say that Australia's a racist, violent country due to our past with the Aborigines, then you'd have to condemm Italy, Britain, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, and let's not forget Germany, the same way. While you're at it, why not throw in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Serbia, Iraq and even India itself into this discussion. In short, the whole world. The fact that you're willing to single us out as a brutal dictatorship (and it's clear you don't even know what a true dictator is) then that makes you a hypocrite, nothing more, nothing less.

  • nick on March 7, 2007, 8:39 GMT

    Yes, there are Australian cricketers like McGrath that cause me to cringe. Most countries have a few, like Nel & Sreesanth. Sure Australia has more, many more than the 80s Windies but the behaviour of elite sportsmen has been deteriorating for some time.

  • Venkat on March 7, 2007, 7:59 GMT

    Wonderful prose, but fairly inaccurate or should I say a very 'high level observation' detached from reality in key observations.

  • andrew f on March 7, 2007, 7:14 GMT

    Mukul, what a tired old argument you are trotting out here. Why don't you perhaps look at the positives to come out of Australias cricket over the past decade? If it wasn't for the likes of Gilly, Ponting, S Waugh & Co, Test cricket would be dead and buried. When the Aussies started pushing run rates over 4.5 an over, getting a result in test cricket was almost guaranteed. And when you had a Warne come on and bamboozle the opposition and McGrath bowl over after over of line and length it was an irresistable winning combination. Sure they play hard and ruthless but at the end of the day their cricket is exciting and has drawn the crowds back to the game and once hostilities are over they have a beer with the opposition team, sign a few autographs and generally behave themselves. Just get over yourself and your inferiority complex and start pushing your own team to lift their performance to where the Aussies are.

  • Joel on March 7, 2007, 5:34 GMT

    This is a letter to Michael "I see many people of every culture". My misguided blogger, do you even understand what racism is? Just because you SEE people doesnt mean that you're not racist! It's how you treat them, you simpleton! So, when was the last time you interacted with an Aborigine, or say vietnamese people? Did you treat them EXACTLY the way you would treat anyone else? Australia has a terrible image of being one of the most residually bigoted democratic countries (yes I know there are worse places, but surely thats no defense). It manifests overtly on the field of play and since time immemorial has been advertising to the world that Australians are ever-so-slightly distasteful. I know for a fact that the average Aussie is one of the best and most likable friends you could hope to have (i speak from personal experience) so why does no-one do anything to stop the soiling of their good name? You cricketers are your ambassadors to the rest of the (cricketing) world.

  • Jogesh on March 7, 2007, 4:53 GMT

    For Ian James - a short reading list on the achievements of your people. Dont respond till you have read at least some of these articles - the roots of aussie behaviour from Ponting to the mass-murdering John Howard should by then have become clear, even to someone with your enlightened vision.

    Abbie, A.A. 1969. The Original Australians. London: Frederick Muller. Atkinson, Alan and Aveling, Marian. 1987. Australians - 1838. Sydney: Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates. Berndt, Ronald M. and Catherine H. 1980. Aborigines of the West - Their Past and Their Present. Perth: University of Western Australia Press. Biskup, Peter. 1973. Not Slaves, Not Citizens: The Aboriginal Problem in Western Australia 1898-1954. St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press. Bridges, Barry, 'Pemulwoy: A "Noble Savage"', newsletter of the Royal Australian Historical Society, pp. 3-5, January 1970. Broome, R. 1982. Aboriginal Australians: Black Response to White Dominance 1788-1980. Sydney: George Allen & Unwin. Byrne, Denis. 1984. The Mountains Call Me Back: A History of the Aborigines and the Forests of the Far South Coast of NSW. NSW Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. Cannon, Michael. 1983. Life in the Country: Australia in the Victorian Age. Melbourne: Currey O'Neil Ross Pty Ltd. Clarke, C.M.H. 1962. A History of Australia. 3 vols. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. -------, ed. 1950. Select Documents in Australian History, 1788-1850. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Cole, Keith. 1985. The Aborigines of Western Australia. Bendigo: Keith Cole Publications. Cribbin, John. 1984. The Killing Times. Sydney: Fontana/Collins. Davies, David. 1973. The Last of the Tasmanians. Sydney: Shakespeare Head Press. Elder, Bruce. 1988. Blood on the Wattle: Massacres and Maltreatment of Australian Aborigines since 1788. Frenchs Forest: National Book Distributors and Publishers. Ellis, Vivienne Rae. 1981. Trucanini: queen or traitor? Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra. Evans, Raymond, Saunders, K. and Cronin, K. 1975. Exclusion, exploitation and extermination: Race relations in Colonial Queensland. Sydney: Australia & New Zealand Book Company. Flood, Josephine, 1983. Archaeology of the Dreamtime. Sydney: William Collins. Gardner, Peter, 'The Warrigal Creek massacre', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, pp. 47-51, June, 1980. Gill, Andrew, 'Aborigines, Settlers and Police in the Kimberleys 1887-1905', Studies in Western Australian History, Perth, pp. 1-28, June 1977. Gordon, Harry. 1976. An Eyewitness History of Australia. Melbourne: Currey O'Neil. Hamann, Judy. "The Coorong Massacre: A Study in Early Race Relations in South Australia", in Flinders Journal of History and Politics, vol. III (1973), pp.1-9. Hardy, Bobbie. 1976. Lament for the Barkindji: the Vanished Tribes of the Darling River Region. Adelaide: Rigby Ltd. Hasluck, Paul. 1942. Black Australians: A Survey of Native Policy in Western Australia, 1829-1897. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. Hercus, Luise. "Tales of Nadu-Dagali (Rib-Bone Billy)", Aboriginal History, vol. I, no. 1 (1977): 53-62. Hercus, Luise, and Peter Sutton, eds. 1986. This is What Happened: Historical Narratives by Aborigines. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra. Hill, Marji, and Alex Barlow. 1978. Black Australia: An Annotated Bibliography and Teacher's Guide to Resources on Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra. Howard, Michael C. 1984. Aboriginal Politics in Southwestern Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press. Inglis, K.S. 1974. The Australian Colonists: An Exploration in Social History, 1788-1870. Victoria: Melbourne University Press. Jenkin, Graham. 1979. Conquest of the Ngarrindjeri. Adelaide: Rigby Ltd. Jones, Lancaster F. 1970. The Structure and Growth of Australia's Aboriginal Population. Aborigines in Australian Society no 1. Canberra: Australian National University. Kelly, Roma, and Nicholas Evans. "The McKenzie Massacre on Bentinck Island", in Aboriginal History, vol. 9, no. 1 (1985): 44-52. Loos, Noel. 1982. Invasion and Resistance: Aboriginal-European Relations on the North Queensland Frontier, 1861-1897. 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    Read

  • Harijan on March 7, 2007, 4:31 GMT

    Gee I hope Australia's Untouchables don't get type casted as rascist.

  • Steven on March 7, 2007, 4:10 GMT

    @Aditya, I can dish it out and take it, was just using Ganguly as an example to show that not only the Aussies use gamesmanship. @Shan, You berate the Aussies for sledging and being arrogant but when Ganguly does it to rile the Aussies its OK? Who cares what Warnie or any other cricket does off the field, they are sportsmen not role models. If you think sportsmen and women should be your rolemodels you have serious issues.

  • Mohsin Malik - San Francisco Bay Area on March 7, 2007, 2:52 GMT

    Would it be India or Sri Lanka!

    The Australians have most recently seen a trend spiraling downward. It would not be surprising if they stumble again during this campaign and on more than one occasion.

    This World Cup is going to be the most open ended tournament, yet in the history of One Day Cricket.

    In their earlier predictions, the pundits (experts) made their calls. They may be wrong footed, altogether as the matches get under way. If the warm-up games are to serve as any precursor, there would be more hiccups in store for the main contenders.

    Now that Bangladesh have added another scalp to their impressive rooster, they may be just about ready to score the first real hit and account for one of the two contenders in their group. Watch out for more upsets.

    The million dollar question, would it be India or Sri Lanka!

    A heart or two may flutter or even sink here with this thought filtering through millions of cricket crazy fans around the world.

    If Bangladesh is to meet that eventuality now and enter the realms of big time cricket of the super eight, the former would be fancied as the better choice of the two available options. In reality, they would not mind taking the harder of the two routes.

    Behold, don’t take it to heart so early. The same scenario could work up in other groups, too. After all, the predictions are that this is going to be the most open ended competition, yet.

    Cheer up!

  • Mark N on March 7, 2007, 0:27 GMT

    Can I just make a point about the South African quota system which seems to upset so many people.

    South Africa is a country that is on a long, generational journey to a future free from hugely unfair and sometimes brutal episodes in the past. It might not be palatable for any kind of sport purist to countenance the idea of having some kind of numbers system to work towards that goal. And it is certainly not always easy for South African cricketers themselves, nor many fans. But it is a noble and well intentioned process that is delivering the goods in the long term, and I predict will produce some of World Cricket's best young players in the years to come.

    Also, please do not accuse the South Africans of whinging after tours to Australia. On the last tour there were some very nasty and small minded people saying pretty sick things to certain SA players on the field. These things should be brought to people's attention and if the Aussies don't like it because it makes them look bad then maybe they need to take a look at themselves.

  • Lesley on March 6, 2007, 23:31 GMT

    As far as I can remember cricket and golf are supposed to be a Gentleman's game. It is not very Gentlemanly to insult your opponents family and friends and really should not be allowed. Arrogance is not acceptable in any sport unless you wish to be disliked because in truth everyone really dislikes a big head no matter what generation you were born in. Respect you earn it is not just given to you just because you happen to be the flavour at the time and you will be judged as much as your antics of the field as on it. Sport and Politics really should not be mixed and it is a disgrace to actually point fingers at another team to try and divert attention from what the original topic of conversation is.

  • Aditya on March 6, 2007, 23:25 GMT

    Steven & Terry: Perfect examples that Aussies can dish it out but can't take it. Yes, demonize Ganguly for doing a couple of things to rile up the Aussie team. I'm not saying sledging or trash talk should not have a part in cricket, but when it comes down to comments about your family, or racist outbursts, and filthy swearing and comments in general, the Aussies are tops at it and they love it. There are one or two players who don't get into that sort of stuff but what you call "playing the game hard" is in fact playing it ugly. Bear in mind that true sportsmansip is not just playing the game hard, it's also about the playing the game right. I mean, let's face it, your legendary Shane Warne's career has been mired by controversy...he's not the sort of guy who would be the ideal role model to a young kid. If he's the "cricketer of the century", then cricket is probably all about being fat and sending dirty text messages.

  • Paul Hawkerton on March 6, 2007, 23:13 GMT

    A question for the fans of the teams Australia has dominated over the past 10 to 15 years - Would you rather have a team consistently wins and that is considered arrogant or be one of their vanquished opponents, consistently losing over this 10 to 15 year period? I know which team I would want representing my country!

    I am also sick of hearing that the West Indians never sledged or verbally or physically intimidated their opponents during their Glorious run. There are numerous examples, including the intentional striking of a NZ umpire. Ask who uttered the words "White Coward" out aloud every time a certain Australian Bwoler appeared.

    Let's face facts. In team sports, can anyone tell a team over the last 20 to 30 years that is universally liked for their fair play and also their dominance?

    I cant think of any teams that fit this criteria, so that is why I think the article is irrelevant and self serving.

  • Ralph on March 6, 2007, 22:51 GMT

    Along with Kanal, I think that Ian James' assertion that Australians are a 'highly educated lot' (with the inference that other cricketing nations are not), is rather rich.

    Educated, yes, like every other major cricketing nation, but 'highly educated'? All the evidence of his post is to the contrary.

  • Vas on March 6, 2007, 22:46 GMT

    This sort of boorish behaviour is hardly exclusive to this Australian era of dominance. Remember Ashes 2005? Wasn't England's parades and honours just the biggest show of self-glorification seen in over 40 years of British sport? And India 2001? Ganguly was booed during the first Test at Bombay, and walked away a hero a few weeks later in Chennai. Countless endorsements were made through DVDs, books and promotional/celebratory events.

    I guarantee that when this great Aussie era is done, and another team takes over, they will exhibit the same arrogant streak and mental tactics that the Australians have used to good effect. Especially since of late, every other team now has a renowned sledger and pot-stirrer in the team willing to throw the gauntlet at their opponents. Can someone guarantee that their own self-belief wont multiply countlessly if their team rise to the top of the tree?

    It is the way with champions enjoying the success that the Australians have. And to say that the great West Indies were humble angels show a supreme lack of knowledge, and also the effect of expansive media coverage has had of late. The Windies fielders would continuously coin phrases of 'Holding's coming to kill you', and 'there's gonna be blood on the pitch'. How that can be defined as any better or worse than the current Aussie antics is from those who have a serious case of sour grapes and jealousy from the Australians' superior record...

  • Brian on March 6, 2007, 21:59 GMT

    There seems to be much talk of the McGrath-Sarwan incident, McGrath commented after the incident that had Sarwan made his response at any other time i.e: when his wife was physically well. He would have been fine with it. He knew with his wife receiving treatment for cancer, he should not have refrained from personal sledging since someone's retort was likely to hit a raw nerve.

  • Michael on March 6, 2007, 21:48 GMT

    Racism takes place "most in our part of the world"? (Another Australian here btw). What a crock Kunal. It is simply more visible because of the cultural melting pot this country is. Walking from the train station to work I see many people from every culture... caucasians, asians, indians, arabs, jews, africans, southern europeans... you name it and we have it. When you walk to work, you probably stare if you see a white person. When I visited Korea, walking around in public was like being a zoo animal on display. I had children touch me to see if i was real or not, the lone round eyed white person for miles around.

    So I would say that racism only appears more in my country because there is more oppertunity and visability. If you want real racism, how about faction A mass murdering thousands of faction B, civil wars based on religious sub groups, caste based rape, bashings and the subsequent blind eye turned by police, or the harbouring of terrorists who think killing any person with a white skin is "gods work"? My country has none of these things my friend, but yours has at least one.

  • wasim saqib on March 6, 2007, 21:27 GMT

    Arrogance has nothing to do with sledging, A winning Team should always have the right to swagger,but sledging in my belief is when you cant win it on field win it through your mouth this is very disturbing.Sledging is not the only issue,Hypocracy when it comes to implementing rules,racism,White umpires favoring white teams (remember Hair) and the whole world shamelessly defending him. If shane warne takes drugs all the aussies including peter roebuck say he is not a cheat he took them by accident and when shoaib takes it he is not worthy to step on a cricket field again. When waugh took money from bookies that was fine with every body if an Asian cricketer is involved He is crucified. When nobody could beat Jehangir Khan in Squash a new white ball was introduced with which dittmar was practicing for over a year. The bending of rules to get advantage on the field Thats not arrogance, Hypocracy has nothing to do with arrogance,and by the way can any body on this blog tell me why Shane warne didnt play ODI cricket after his Doping incident is it bcz ICC doping regime extends to ODI and does not apply to test matches.I hope peter Roebuck will have the answer.

  • JJ on March 6, 2007, 20:34 GMT

    I was privileged to read comments from the "well educated" Ian James. However maybe because of poor sub continental education or maybe because of my obsession with trivial matters such as politics and wars, I failed to follow the train of thought. Sorry for the cryptic English, but the only coherent thought I could read from the entire passage is that Australia cares about sport and nothing else, and that makes them great and the others stupid.

    I am not sure what Ian wants to say with his first paragraph, that Indians dont know English (yes it is not the first language out there)? or that other countries should not rudely interrupt Australian victories by creating pitches that suit the home team? or maybe that while we should be expected to play in Perth or whatever other mine field the australians put out for us, but dare not create a spinning track because unlike in the case of Indians, sport is important for Australia and they should not have to lose?

    Well lets forget that first para for a bit and get to the main point I think he is trynig to make. If you are a country which is lucky to enjoy geographical isolation, and have only 20 MM people across what is a very large piece of land with quite a bit of resources and have had a benevolent colonial administation to start you off, you can afford to worry only about sport. Maybe at times also send some troops to the middle east to slaughter a few.

    Unfortunately other nations dont have that luxury. Indeed the actions of your ancestors (and I would spare everyone the details of that brutality) have left you in a great position and you have created a great sporting culture and a cricketing team.

    But I am not sure that gives you the right to trivialize the problems of other countries and dismiss them as misplaced nationalism.

    Finally, I have great respect for the Australian team (and their sporting culture) and they well might be the best team ever in cricketing hstory. The get there by eing great at all aspects of the game including sledging and manipulating umpires and officials. And if the Asian countries, particulalry India cannot get the same leverage on playing conditions and official rulings, it is only our fault. We pay for the international game, and we should really use the muscle and bully the rest of the world. If we dont, it is not Australia's fault.

  • Kunal on March 6, 2007, 18:57 GMT

    Ian james, Infact it was some one from your part of the world who stated "pakistan has the most racist culture." I guess when you guys start talking about racism, its all in good humor and when we do the same, its called "spoiled." You say that sports and nationalism is tied together. Sure, it is. Does that say about australians too? Since, they are arrogant on field, does it say something about nationalism? No. Sledging is fun, if its within limits. Play hard = win big. Don't harp about nationalism. You call yourself the highly educated lot and racism takes place most in your part of the word. In short, "highly educated lot." Says something about the country eh? Good pride there.

  • Emon on March 6, 2007, 16:31 GMT

    Judging by some of the comments in this blog i have come to this conclusion that the arrogance of a player is directly proportional to his playing ability. No wonder two of the most arrogant player s of all times are named Sir Donald Bradman and Sir Garfield Sobers. I mean just take a look at their playing days. They insulted each and every individual that they encountered on the field. Oh wait!!!that was in an alternate world where i ocassionally doze off to!!!

  • Sandeep Singh on March 6, 2007, 15:05 GMT

    Handicapped by an ordinance biting into their revenues, Nimbus today threatened to pull out of its whopping Rs 2714 crore telecast deal with the Cricket Board which has now been left with the onus of sorting out the vexed telecast issue with the government.

  • adam the ozi on March 6, 2007, 14:18 GMT

    i really hope the players on other teams dont think the way that most of you soft marshmellows do.

    you comment on the australians as if they are running around hitting poor little indians over the head with there clubs(bats)....

    did anyone see how the kiwis won recently and the aussies wernt crying, whinging, abusing umpires, stabbing lou vincent with a stump. oh the only aussie that whinged was big ears gilly gilly who never shuts up. why does everyone think he is so much above the other aussie players. just shows how peoples perceptions can be changed by a valvoline ad.

    the aussies may seem arrogant, but that doesnt mean they win by dirty cheating means. they simply bowl, bat and especially field better than the rest.

  • Tom on March 6, 2007, 14:17 GMT

    Most Australian Fans simply don't care about this at the moment. The mewling of fans from other nations about "unfair tactics" and racism when the Aussies are doing well has become so repetitive and frequent they've tuned it out. The barely-disguised racism and glee that seems to be displayed by fans and journalists/bloggers from other countries when the Aussies falter has made relevant points that need to be made (racism in this sport needs to stop, irrelevant of the source) fall upon deaf ears in my country.

  • Chetan Asher on March 6, 2007, 11:32 GMT

    I would agree with Anton's view if ICC and its match referees / umpires applied the law evenly. The whole cricket world saw Glen McGrath abuse Sachin Tendulker when Sachin hit Glen for 4 boundaries & then got out to Glen in the same over. The ICC match referee did Indians an honor & had a word with Lord Glen. During the same series, the same match referee penalised Venkatesh Prasad of India for going close to an Australian batsman visibly celebrating the fall of an Australian wicket. I guess under Australian ICC laws, it is OK to abuse, but not celebrate ? I will believe that Aussies ethically deserve world championship when we see ICC's umpires & match referees treating Aussies at par with Indians / Pakistanis & Australia still winning.

  • guru on March 6, 2007, 9:55 GMT

    There is nothing wrong in being ruthless even arrogant. All the champions have this quality in them like Schumacher, Federer, Sampras and Jordon. Each one express this by different style. You cannot see Federer or Sampras swear but they show it by beating the oppenents merciless. Aussies want to dominate the game completly they go overboard sometimes, which makes sports more spicier.

    You could see the difference in the preformance of Ponting after he gave up his off field misdemeanors and concentrate on the cricket. The interesting thing is when the Aussies were pitted against few individuals who has the same belief like Sachin, McCullum and McMillan (recently). This is the sort of match we like to see rather than dull, good natured games.

  • marcus on March 6, 2007, 9:50 GMT

    I have to say that some of our players are terrible sportsmen, especially the likes of Warne and Ponting. I mean, Warne's said some stupid things over the years, such as calling another player's mother a whore and publicly ridiculing Asad Rauf a couple of years ago. Ponting's just an abusive character with a Napoleon complex. And I always find it funny how McGrath's saying that he thinks fast bowlers should be "fiery"; sledging's fine up to a pint, but shouldn't your bowling back that up? Saying that, players like Gilchrist, Martyn and Lee are true gentlemen and a credit to the game- they play it hard but fair.

    Ian James, you are right, we have a much more healthy attitude to sport than, say, European soccer countries- although I don't quite understand why ignorance of our national history should be a point of pride.

  • Anton on March 6, 2007, 9:23 GMT

    Hey how about we ease up on the nostalgia regarding the West Indies 70s/80s team. It is well known an remeembered that they were bullies in every sense of the word, through verbal and serious physical intimidation. This is the nature of cricket and there is little wrong with it.

  • Jatin on March 6, 2007, 8:36 GMT

    I liked this article by Mukul and the characterisation of Australian Team is exact. I believe the arrogance with which Australians behave on the field has also to do with the way oppostion teams see them. Since Australians are winning most teams are always on the backfoot and that reflects in everything associated with their cricket. If an Australian player Sledges, chances are opppostion players will not retaliate often enough.

  • pradeep on March 6, 2007, 8:33 GMT

    Why compare or make so many assumptions? I am at loss if the author had any such intentions or anyone ever made a point that Australia had a better domination than WI had...

  • Arsalan Khan on March 6, 2007, 6:59 GMT

    First comes pride. Then comes fall.

    Thanks to Mr Buchanan-- history repeated itself again. :P

  • Suhas on March 6, 2007, 6:01 GMT

    The 70s/80s Windies was a magnificent side, but they weren't averse to the odd unsportsmanlike tactic either. Anyone recall jamaica 1976 when lloyd specifically ordered Holding & co to unleash short pitched stuff on the Indians (half the side was in the hospital after that). Antone recall Viv Richards' constant appealing which intimidated an umpire so much he eventually ruled in the windies' favour?

    My point is, stop the behavioural comparisons of the Aussies with Clive lloyd's side...sledging is here to stay, and too bad. Everyone does it. The Aussies' aren't exactly setting the standard, and the rest of the cricketing world isn't ready to either. It's something we have to live with

  • Shan on March 6, 2007, 5:27 GMT

    @Steven and Terry:

    Great, now that you can't defend the Aussie, you take on the one man who has paid them back in the same coin - Saurav Ganguly, and then try and demean him! Sourav did what he did to unsettle Steven Waugh, and what's more he succeeded. He was the first captain to stand up the the bullies and tell them they he would not take their tactics lying down. He played mental games and won. The proof of the pudding - the Aussies lost the series in India. Sourav Ganguly was the first to prove that the Aussies were pussies when confronted. And that loss started the slide for Steve Waugh as well. He was never the same again.

    I feel like laughing when I hear the Aussies whining about Sourav Ganguly. We all know that they do to the recalcitrant captains of the opposition. Sourav denied them that chance. Therefore he becomes a "poisonous little man"!?! Ha!

  • Nick 2 on March 6, 2007, 5:16 GMT

    That other nick is way off. Australia has been an arrogant team, i'm aussie and i agree with that statement, but they have been well on top of the world for a long time. The rest of the cricketing world is in decline, and if the aussies merely slide down to join the pack then it'll be sad for cricket as the game will suffer as a result.

    Of course a slide by the aussies will last 2-3 years at most.

  • 4glenn on March 6, 2007, 4:38 GMT

    hmm Australia. We try to love them as a team but we just cant. they just love themselves too much (and british women -warne). So what happens is that select few aussies (and by select I mean 1) become idolised for their nobility ie, gilchrist in india (seen the adds)simply because their aussies AND good sportsmen as well!!! (waaw- never seen that b4) see gilchrist never goes below the belt, thats the difference. Convincing an australian that the australian cricket team really have adopted this "win at any cost" mentality will hardly ever happen because of the pride factor. and yeaih as for the magrath thing. bro, the guy got what he deserved, hope he learnt something from it. if your a rude b**stard to someone else, dont cry when their a rude b**stard back. jayasuriya should have said something bout magrathz wife aswell. inoe its slack but their you go,nothing wrong wit competitive talk related to the game but it seems that auss dont sledge that way against the asian teams. windies are famous for their batting and their bowling, auss- just for their words, which is sadd really given their mental resolve and their sucess.

  • slick on March 6, 2007, 4:36 GMT

    y cant people jsut hack the fact that australia is the freatest cricketing nation on the face of the planet. for gods sake, bloody idians need to hack the fact that australia is the best country in cricket and the foundation layed in cricket australia wouldnt make us number 10 in the icc world ranking as this is what has hapned to the west indies after their glory days

  • ian james on March 6, 2007, 4:26 GMT

    An interesting topic – there may be a relationship between national character and sport as evidenced by the Pakistani cricket team, the Australians, etc. However the quasi racist commentary of some contributors detracts from an intriguing discussion.

    In Australia’s case its clearly a matter of priorities. Sport matters (a lot).

    During Australia’s tests in India, most of us chuckled at the signs hastily scrawled by Indian supporters, being amused by the cryptic English, the naive nationalism and finally the pleas for mercy. And, as we saw with the Mumbai pitch, comedy was not restricted to scribbles on cardboard.

    Although I take pride in my country’s (Australia) victories and view their defeats as interruptions, I find jingoism amongst my countrymen or others repulsive. One of my great sources of pride is that we come from a nation where most do not know the words of its national anthem, the year of its foundation or the name of its first prime minister (and don’t give a damn). It has a spectacular national game (Aust. Rules football) which attracts the largest crowds week by week of any sport in the world, but we couldn’t care less whether other nations play or understand it. Prime ministers open sporting events with trepidation, knowing they will be laughed at, heckled, satirized and lampooned. Yet, despite the disrespect, we do not assassinate them. Not important enough.

    NZ usually beats us at rugby – and contest dangerously well at cricket. However we don’t normally bomb NZ or arm ourselves with nuclear weapons in preparation for doing so. You see it’s a matter of priorities. Being a highly educated lot we know that sport matters – far more than politics, religion, ethnicity and militarism. Sport is the sensible place for your aggression. Unfortunately in nations where aggression is placed elsewhere and where sport becomes tied too closely to nationalism, sport leads to riots and death. As anyone who has been to Australia knows, sports fields and facilities are everywhere, and the level of participation is high. On the other hand military conscription has always been defeated in referenda, and there is not a tank in sight. Priorities again.

    Many (mainly English) have asked me how a nation of only 19 million can be so proficient at the sports it chooses to participate in – cricket, swimming, rugby, tennis, triathlon, various olympics sports and many others. The answer is priorities and organization such that a small country can come 4th or 5th in the world at the olympics. At state and national level there are institutes of sport, cricket academies and a high degree of organization– some would say ruthlessness - down to local and school level. You can be a national hero with a name like Waugh or Lee but be dropped in the blink of a eye. Priorities. (The exception is rugby where wealthy geriatrics both run and play the sport – no ruthlessness there – but that is another story)

    But it was not always thus … Resembling a naturally talented athlete, Australians had previously got away with winning things without much discipline. As the title of a 1960’s critique of the nation indicated, we were The Lucky Country. Then came the 1970’s. We lost the cricket, the rugby, the swimming (some say due to drugged East German haemaphrodites – another story) and did not get a gold medal at an olympics. To top it off a drunken representative of England (the Governor General) dismissed a government and, more importantly, presented the Melbourne Cup to the winner of that premier horse race. The country was at its lowest. Why?? Because of failures in sport – priorities, you see.

    The national response? Riots? No. Civil war? No. An assassination or two? No. The response was to reorganize and put money and effort into returning to winning sports. This was the birth of the institutes of sport, cricket academies, hosting the olympics, exercise campaigns such as ‘Life be in it”, etc. Governments at all levels knew that votes were won not by weapons, invasions and ethnic division, but by winning at sports. Oh, and we also bundled the besotted governor general off on the next plane to who cares where. If you are not good enough you are out of the team, drunken g-g.

    So finally – cricket and nationalism. Sports will always be tied to nationalism even when run by the Packers and Murdochs of the world. However whether this is a beautiful or ugly thing seems to depend on the shape of your nationalism – whether it also is a beautiful or ugly thing. I dread the day when Australians know the words to their national anthem - it will indicate a change for the worse.

    An interesting topic – spoilt by quasi racist comments, sadly most from sub-continental contributors.

  • Jake on March 6, 2007, 4:01 GMT

    I mean Optimism and Self Belief for Arrogance regards the above comment. Cheers

  • Jake on March 6, 2007, 3:53 GMT

    People are mistaking arrogance for optimism and self belief. If you dont think you will always win and believe in yourself, you will continue to lose and Australia will continue to win. England believed in themselves for the first time in 15 years in 2005.

  • anon on March 6, 2007, 3:36 GMT

    sour grapes and tall poppy syndrome

  • Steven on March 6, 2007, 3:28 GMT

    Nick, in reponse to "and everyone who cares about cricket will be delighted when they leave" , where exactly do you think Australian cricket is going to go ? Are we going to start playing baseball or something instead. Sledging has been around a long long time before this Aussie team. The WI used physical intimidation, the current Aussie's use verbal and skill based intimidation, I really can't see the difference and why the WI are glorified so much. Calling the Aussie team cheats because they "intimidate the umpires " is just a laughable comment, they are international umpires, not a bunch of school girls. Just because your teams can't match it with the Aussies on the cricket field, don't personally attack players ( whom you don't even know ), thats just not cricket.

  • s.s on March 6, 2007, 1:52 GMT

    well, reading all those comments i couldn't leave without my thoughts.I am neither Australian or Indian but love cricket. this is the GREATEST known to mankind(i think so).Arrogance is the state of mind and i need ball to be arrogant. if an other country during their prime were not arogant then they missed the real flair of being champion. when it comes to personal (mcgrath-sarwan,lehman-sri lanka) both sides must be ready to take punches. I want to see more teams to be tough and start fighting not complaining.

  • Ralph on March 5, 2007, 23:32 GMT

    To bypass the arguments about whether the Australians are really thoroughly lovable creatures, or whether arrogance breeds success, I would just like to say that I agree with Mukul's characterisation of the Australian batting.

    As Mukul says, Hussey and Hayden may have extraordinary statistics, but I certainly would not pay to watch them bat. Of course, if I were Australian, I would probably forgive the lack of style for the extreme effectiveness of their methods. However, as a neutral, I do not enjoy their cricket, for exactly the same reason that I and most other cricket fans do not enjoy the vast majority of South African cricket - it's characterless. Efficient, yes, effective, yes, bruising, yes, but interesting, effervescent, sparkling, no.

    Think how you might describe a vintage Brian Lara innings - I think the last three adjectives would all apply, and more. I would pay to watch Brian Lara anywhere.

    I think you are a little harsh in branding Ponting in the same bracket as Hussey and Hayden, though - I agree that his captaincy fits the bruising, effective, South African model, but I think his batting is a better than that.

    To finish off on a different note, I do think that Australia's bowling is extremely weak, and I think that they may struggle to make the semi-finals. Every team playing them will surely just stick them into bat first, and then fancy their chances of chasing down anything.

  • Saurav on March 5, 2007, 23:08 GMT

    Even before going into the article, I have a grammatical query. Why is the article named : Dramatis personae?

    Why not something more intelligible and comfortable? Although I do not get the context of the title, I still would advocate using a more comfortable title for the following reasons:

    1. Your target audience are not literary experts. They are more common men like me.

    2.There is a trend to embalm something very common and trivial with a coating of superfluous vocabulary.

    3. The name of the game is to keep it short,simple and understandable.

    4. All these high flying words tend to relate to a victorian era. Lets wake up guys, that era is long over!

    I hope the author takes it as constructive criticism and if not concurring to the view point, willing to explain his thoughts.

  • deepesh nayanar on March 5, 2007, 23:05 GMT

    I think a certain amount of aggression does make the game exciting. However there seems to be a coincidence on sub-continent players being called for behaviour when aussies and SA exhibit aggressive slander more often.

  • Steven on March 5, 2007, 22:36 GMT

    "Perhaps however your next instalment will be an analysis of the wit and charm of the Indian team under Sourav Ganguly. A poisonous little man with none of the respect for the game of the three champions listed above."

    Couldn't agree more Terry, Ganguly is perhaps the biggest disgrace of a cricket captain the international stage has ever seen. Trying to steal a toss you have lost, turning up in your tracksuit to the toss ( and late as well mind you ) on several occasions, abusing spectators. I don't find the Aussies arrogant and obnoxious, I find them to be very unassuming men off the field who are proud to playing the game they love for their country. On the field they do what they need to do to win. Also can we please stop putting Gilchrist up as some poster boy, he is right up there with Hayden and Warne in the sledging stakes, he hardly takes a breath all day!

  • Jay Thomson on March 5, 2007, 22:35 GMT

    No worries mate. Everyone is entitled to an opinion so feel free to chin wag. Mind you, I recall the days when every man and his dog stomped on us abroad and on our own dung heap so excuse me for relishing the achievemment of Aussie cricket. It's like me father always said, 'It doesn't have to be pretty; it just has to work.' The ability to take a knock and keep on coming is what it's all about. Liked the article. I just feel they've too much class to be called bullies. It's like calling Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd thugs back when the Windies ruled. Everything is cyclical. Have a good one.

  • Nick on March 5, 2007, 21:06 GMT

    Australia achieved a number of their results by cheating. They sledged the opposition, pressured the umpires, and demeaned the game. They are not fit to stand on the same turf as the great sides of the past, and everyone who cares about cricket will be delighted when they leave. If the ICC wants to gain fans for cricket, start by putting the house in order, and punishing the unsporting and dishonest conduct of teams like Australia.

    Nick

  • joel on March 5, 2007, 20:53 GMT

    It's a great pity that the departing crop of great Australian cricketers will always be remembered for their lack of sportsmanship. they could have been loved, had they tried. now future dominant teams will always try to avoid being compared to them , not because of their cricketing skills but because of the unpleasant taste left in the mouth after discussing their most famous legacy,"mental disintegration". Of the two most dominant teams in the last 50 years, there is only one to aspire to, and Australia will always rue the missed opportunity.

  • Rajesh, USA on March 5, 2007, 18:23 GMT

    People, stop talking about how good the Australian team has been. That does not give them the license to say whatever they feel like. We are talking about behaviour not your cricketing talents. Winning should make you even more humble. That is what we have been tought. And someone please do something about the bowlers walking down the pitch and making those stupid comments after being hit for a boundary. How stupid is that! What do you expect the batsmen to do? Stand there and give his wicket? His job is to try to score runs.

    Mcgrath has spawned copy-cats. Look at Andre Nel now. Everytime someone makes contact with the ball, his follow-through gets longer and his mouth starts to do the work. That is so stupid.

  • K.S. on March 5, 2007, 16:45 GMT

    "Anybody who's stayed at the top for nigh on a decade will no doubt be arrogant and obnoxious...it's human nature."

    I don't buy into this argument and excuse. I don't remember Borg, Sampras, Tiger Woods, Pat Rafter, or Roger Federer being boorish, overtly arrogant or obnoxious (although they may all have displayed/display a certain self-assurance bordering on cocky at times or displayed irritation, anger and frustration during play - but never outright obnoxious or overtly demeaning to others during play as far as I can remember). I'll take them over the more foul-mouthed and boorish McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Lleyton Hewitt any day. True champions and people at the top of their game (no matter what country you come from) don't have to be overly arrogant or obnoxious on the field or off. Lara and Tendulkar were at the top of their game for years and though both have showed flashes of imperiousness at times, I wouldn't classify either as overly arrogant or obnoxious to others, on the field or off.

  • K.S. on March 5, 2007, 16:34 GMT

    "If you sooks thrive on rumours and hearsay go back to reading your hollywood gossip magazines and leave the competitive world of cricket to those who want real contests between real men."

    Shane, then perhaps you'd better direct that advice at Glenn McGrath, who apparently took the trouble to read gossip about an alleged tryst between Ganguly and an actress in a Bollywood magazine or Indian publication, and used the information to sledge Ganguly (the incident was mentioned in the Australian publication The Age). Does that sound like the tactic of a "real man"? Surely he's a good enough bowler to let his talents speak for him without having to stoop to such childish behaviour (what happened to a "real contest")? Same goes for his distasteful comment to Sarwan regarding Lara. Sarwan's reply, though unfortunate, was what McGrath deserved. He can't take random potshots at others and their personal lives and then claim his personal life and family should be off limits. By demeaning himself with these types of comments, he comes across as your average schoolyard bullyboy instead of the great bowler that he is.

  • Terry on March 5, 2007, 16:25 GMT

    Warne , McGrath & Gilchrist are once in a generation cricketers who play the game hard and your article smacks of sour grapes. Perhaps however your next instalment will be an analysis of the wit and charm of the Indian team under Sourav Ganguly. A poisonous little man with none of the respect for the game of the three champions listed above.

  • Aditya on March 5, 2007, 16:02 GMT

    Anybody who's stayed at the top for nigh on a decade will no doubt be arrogant and obnoxious...it's human nature. But sledging, trash talk, remarks about your family members have been part of Australian (and perhaps even English) cricket for quite a while. That's common in any English-speaking country, and it isn't taken that seriously. As Asians we feel it is unacceptable because it isn't so common in our cultures. In my opinion it all boils down to a clash of cultures.

  • henry on March 5, 2007, 15:54 GMT

    the aussies are the best and you can all eat your hearts out they make the game exciting to watch they are the greateat blokes in cricket and because of them people around the world are begining to take interest in what was once a dull game that people did not follow.they are the best thing that has happened to the game i love. if people would not be so jealous of us ausies and start playing like australia and not whimper like babies the game we all love will only benifit.we are the champions henry an avid aussie fan

  • Kunal on March 5, 2007, 15:53 GMT

    In response to Ian,

    Well Ian, India does not have racial quota's as well. Neither does Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand. I guess, the only exception is South Africa. When you say that other countries can't win in response to an australian argument, you are certainly wrong. As pointed out by someone in this blog before, when the australians are at the receiving end, they don't seem to handle it well. The examples may be old and tired, but those are some of the facts and your saying won't change it. There are people who resort to slegding in most of the teams. If you are ready to get some back, then sledge, else be quiet. Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

  • SR on March 5, 2007, 15:33 GMT

    Well, its funny how nostaliga can blur reality. Everyone who mentions that the Australian team sledges while the Windies of the 80's did not is flat out wrong. People like Haynes, Richards etc used to stand in close and constantly tell the batsman, the next ball is going to kill you, you are going to die etc while their paceman bowled 4-5 balls per over at the chest/head. if you dont believe me read the autobiography of any cricketer who played against them (they didnt have stump mikes/ match referees then so they got away with it). I dont know about you but I'd rather hear the F word about me and my teammates/family a few times over someone telling me am going to die because the latter scenario can actually happen. Also, before you say its within the rules, accept that what the Aussies do is within the rules as well. And lastly on the topic of race and abuse, every country does it except that in many cases its not in English so they arent caught. Tust me, am from the subcontinent and Ive been to enough games to see this.

  • Alok on March 5, 2007, 14:47 GMT

    I was looking at old highlights of THE West Indies team in action. I am of course referring to the team that dominated cricket in the 70s and 80s. About twice as long as the present Aussie team.

    They didn't NEED to sledge. A look was enough. The bat and the ball did the rest. Whether it was Richards skinning the bowlers, or Marshall, Roberts, Holding and the crew wrecking the batsmen, they did it with a stylish brutality. It was also super-cool!

    In contrast, the Aussies prefer to use bluster when talent fails. When that also fails, (only a few times), the go out whining and crying. Shane Warne's articulation may have helped him with West Indies or England, but it utterly failed against Sidhu or Tendulkar. MOst of the times, they won by simply refusing to believe they could lose. When they were up against a team who believed the same (India in 2004, England in 2005), they had a real fight. Their domination, skill and tactic wise was nowhere near the kind of fear the West Indies inspired, and now that their greats start walking into the sunset, they will suddenly find the world gripped in a strange all-pervading schadenfreude where every one of their defeats is gleefully cheered, and every misery, gloated over.

  • steve on March 5, 2007, 14:34 GMT

    Steve, YOU are being naive here! The problem with Aussies is that you find it convenient to take offence against Sarwan because McGrath's wife happened to suffer from cancer. So, according to your logic, is it okay for Sarwan to say that if she didnt suffer from Cancer? What warped logic - if you have the necessary faculties, think about that! Try and introspect, mate! Like they say, be a man, If you dish it out, be prepared to take some back too. Dont give cry-baby stuff like "Sir, please sir, my wife suffering from cancer sir. please dont bring in my wife sir!" McGrath's behaviour is, infact, less obnoxious than such lame supporting arguments from people like you!

  • Miten Davda on March 5, 2007, 14:12 GMT

    The Australian side has been dominant for a decade now and they have done so not only by playing well but also playing ruthlessly hard. Like any other era, this era is coming to an end with their best players either retired or in the twilight of their careers. Every international team wants to win the accolades that Australia have won and would use the means that Australia used to win as well but none of the other teams have the complete package. They speak because they play well and win against everything the world throws at them. Going into the World Cup they are still the team to beat and if they do win, we can all talk about how they are a bunch of bullies, the fact remains unchanged, they are the worlds best..for now anyways. BTW...im a team India fan but im a fan of the game of cricket first and sorry to those who love to whine but Australia play some pretty awesome cricket.

  • suresh on March 5, 2007, 13:59 GMT

    mukul,couldn't have put it better!Success, in the Aussies case has bred not only more of the same but arrogance as well,it seems!

  • S.M.Owais on March 5, 2007, 13:53 GMT

    Re: David "The most racist cricket culture appears to be that of Pakistan...just read the comments on the Pak Spin blog." Wow...Pak spin now represents the entire Pakistani "cricket culture," does it? And what you've mistaken for racism was probably just a good dose of honesty about Australian cricketers, unless you can prove otherwise by QUOTING AN EXAMPLE (the correct way to support one's argument, remember)

  • Riyas on March 5, 2007, 13:41 GMT

    dan

    obviously you never been to the subcontinent if you think cricket is only played by the upper class. that was a very ignorant. and if it was true it doesnt justify the behaviour.

    @david

    you can read everysingle bit of paper you want but anyone who knows the english language and watched that particular match knows very well what mcgrathsaid. to make it asier for you it was Aus v Sri Lanka in the 95 tri series.

    regarding other teams doing it, dont worry anytime any other team has even tried they get baned and fined so badly they just stop.

    aussied probably only think thier cancerous wives being insulted is bad but u insult any south asians mother or sister on the streets and u asking for trouble.

  • vikas on March 5, 2007, 13:40 GMT

    well! it's all in the mind my friends. when sreesanth glares and talks back to south african bowlers and dances down the track after hitting a six we feel happy. the news channels play it over and over again and claim a 'character' is born. while andre nel doing the same would be played over and over again as boorish behavior.

    i am sure if the entire indian team reacted like this no one will mind. we will love them for their aggression.

    nobody likes it when he or she is at the receiving end most of the time. and i agree that it is difficult to draw boundaries. if sreesanths dance was a little jig then mc grath - sarwan was friendly banter.

    we secretly hunger for gladiators and not gentlement in the ring, as long as they wear our colours.

  • K Srinivasan on March 5, 2007, 13:31 GMT

    The moot point is that abouncer who gets beaten up loses his "enforcer" image very fast.. the threat works as long as the fear lasts!! otherwise Mcmillan's of the world would not dare to dream that 10 an over for 100 odd is eminently gettable.. aussies have come back to Mother Earth with a thud and Ponting would not rest easy even with 400 odd just hear Ian C already talking about it!!

  • Ian on March 5, 2007, 12:18 GMT

    Despite the erudite nature of your article Mukul, I find you have contributed nothing new to a debate for which I accuse subcontinential people and South Africans of hypocrisy.

    That hypocrisy is borne of the implied stereotyping of the Australian cricket set-up of institutionalised racism, boorish behaviour and a lack of respect for others. The few examples always quoted are tired and examined far too often to provide a solid case for your claims.

    I've played enough cricket with and against Indians and Pakistanis to have learned phrases in Hindi and Urdu far worse and more commonly used than any sledging that goes on in international cricket involving Australians. Australian cricket sides don't have racial quotas, don't have ethnic arguments over who and who's not chosen in the side. Can other sides say the same?

    And as for the comment that Australia's a nation of convicts - we know you can't win the cricket argument when you resort to that one. I wonder if the thousands of wonderful people from India and Pakistan who now call Australia home like being considered convicts?

  • SarmadR on March 5, 2007, 12:12 GMT

    Well..how bout doin a similar piece on all of the teams and tell us who is the Costner who will bust 'em?

  • Shane on March 5, 2007, 12:08 GMT

    Hear hear Justin, too many fools accept rumours as fact. If you sooks thrive on rumours and hearsay go back to reading your hollywood gossip magazines and leave the competitive world of cricket to those who want real contests between real men. Just a quick tip for those who want to topple Australia - don't get your dresses in a twist when the verbal assault starts, take it like men and steel yourself for a fight and then you may have taken the first step to winning or at least losing with respect. Australia do play the game hard and occasionally step over the line which can be a little embarrassing but look closely and you will also see them clapping a century, congratulating opposition players, having a drink after the game, signing autographs and a host of other sporting gestures so don't be so quick to judge unless you are going to look at the whole picture. Can someone give me a definitive example of Australia not handling failure? The way Australia handle failure is to put their head down and come out harder and hungrier the next time, not go home and whinge about the verbal contest (ie South Africa).

  • Johanne on March 5, 2007, 12:03 GMT

    David,

    McGrath's sledge was well known in close circles some years back. Sledging in that time hadn't gained the wide notoriety it has now. So, it wasn't publicized, I guess. Neither was it a Lehmann-style outrageous, open insult that was heard by the many. However, those who were close to the player/team in question are aware of the allegation.

    I do not think anyone views the Aussies as being racist. Just that some of them do appear to be racist when they are unable to handle the opposition getting on top. It may be seen by some as just mind games, but if that is what they are supposed to be, then they are well over the top, and unacceptable.

    Like some have written in this blog, some Aussies do not take it well when they are at the receiving end of what they dish out, be it with bat, ball, or words.

    Players of other teams may be that too. However, we do not know of any such instances... at least none that have led to open controversy.

    As for Pak spin, I do not read that column. I would think that if the comments are offensive, then they ought to be censored.

    No one enjoys being clobbered for six, especially when one has given one's everything to perfecting one's art as McGrath has, and yet it is only a matter of knowing why it is important to keep one's emotions under wraps, and how to do so.

    The truth of the matter may lie with Dan's observations above.

  • adam the ozi on March 5, 2007, 11:48 GMT

    ok, so some of the aussies arent the most likable players going around. but why does everyone say gilly is good. he is no different to the others, so it just shows how people get the wrong impression, or just repeat what the media says.

    the aussie teams plays hard on the field but doesnt warne help out young spinners wherever he tours, dont the team always try to have a beer with the other team at the end of the days play etc etc

    why is it always the aussies who get singled out. what about the south africans in particular andre nel. or the constant noise coming from the sri lankans especially sangakara. or the way india and england turn up to tournaments as if they are royalty and just embarass themselves on the field.

    why not have a blog about how much harder the aussies must train at fielding practice, how up until the last month they always bowled line and length and how they just seem to do the basic skills better.

  • Suresh on March 5, 2007, 11:43 GMT

    Steve, I am not sure I clarified myself adequately. When I said "Once you insult someone, you cannot define boundaries within which the other guy should react" what I meant was one cannot be the sole judge of deciding what is acceptable insult and what is not. Obvoiusly Mcgrath thoghut what he said was acceptable but the person insulted did not think so and he had a right to think so. Mcgrath had no right to decide what should be acceptable to Sarwan and hence he should have kept his mounth shut in the first place. As regards condoning any form of reaction, I am the last person to suggest that. What I meant was its not Mcgrath who should have decided on the punishment or condoning after starting it off. The punishment should have been meted out by the authorities. That's the reason I talked of timid match referees not taking an action against Slater. I never suggested that Rahul Dravid sould have retaliated. Perhaps that's the difference in our thinking or maybe cultures.

  • Justin on March 5, 2007, 11:11 GMT

    ...I have to concur with KC, where's the rest of the article? And Johanne, where is your proof of McGrath doing that? Where is the proof Australia can't take it? Where is the factual proof for -any- of these claims?

    ...Oh, right. There isn't facts. It's all based on hearsay and biased accounts: Don't state rumours as facts.

  • Sridhar on March 5, 2007, 11:04 GMT

    Sure, the Aussies are ruthless and not shy of using any tactic to win. But their single minded determination to win the Champions Trophy, win back the Ashes and to win it 5-nil, just shows that they keep improving all the time. Something for all of us, in any profession, to learn.

  • Steve on March 5, 2007, 11:01 GMT

    "Once you insult someone, you cannot define boundaries within which the other guy should react. "

    what an extraordinary naive statement. you basically condoning any form of reaction just because of an insult. Perhaps you would be better off watching the football rather than the cricket

  • Sharath on March 5, 2007, 10:48 GMT

    I agree with Dan Mullen here. I have not come across the Windies team of 70's and 80's with this kind of arrogant behaviour which the Aussies are known for now.

  • AK Prawat on March 5, 2007, 10:40 GMT

    The Australian cricket team has had so much success that they dont quite know how to handle failures.

  • David on March 5, 2007, 10:37 GMT

    Johanne,

    I have read a lot on the subject of sledging and racism in sport and I have never heard a claim of McGrath calling someone a black monkey and frankly it sounds like like a lie. Racism in sport is not on, imho, but I have never really seen the Aussies as racist. The most racist cricket culture appears to be that of Pakistan...just read the comments on the Pak Spin blog. Australians seem to admire cricketing talent wherever it comes from, and from whatever colour...they respect people who play hard.

    I am an Aussie, but I stopped supporting the Australian team a long time ago because of their arrogance (I follow England), but I found there arrogance easier to swallow than the culture of some teams of blaming their poor performances on racial bias from the ICC.

  • Dan on March 5, 2007, 10:23 GMT

    Good article, and gosh I cringe every time one of our players comes out with some excessively aggresive or racist crap, sorry about that!

    Something to add though, in Australia, cricket is played by everybody. In most of the rest of the world it is only the upper class who play. Thus in Australia we get a rougher, less polished and mannered approach to the game.

    Hey, at least it's democratic, egalitarian etc, anyway, that's my excuse....

    Dan, wishing the Aussies would just play good cricket so he could like them a bit more.

  • KC on March 5, 2007, 9:42 GMT

    Heres my two bits... You said it in your first line Mukul. Cricket sides are creatures with personality. And thats what the Aussies had. Personality. You hate it or you love it. But you can't ignore it.

  • Johanne on March 5, 2007, 9:36 GMT

    Marty... valid point. But tell me... is it also an Australian thing that causes the famous McGrath to call an illustrious Asian batsman a 'black monkey' on being hit for six?

    Well, not exactly in the league of a Lehmann perhaps, but somewhat reminiscent. Is all this running in the family, or what?

  • Suresh on March 5, 2007, 9:28 GMT

    Marty,

    I did not want to bring this up but you are forgetting that the episode was started by Mcgrath by asking "How does Brian Lara's **** taste ?" To me that was an insulting and a totally unnecessary question in the first place. The answer to that was just a reaction. Once you insult someone, you cannot define boundaries within which the other guy should react. You cannot isolate these things and only glorify Mcgrath's reaction as an "Australian thing" thereby condoning him for starting it off. That's what I meant when I said Australians (cricketers I mean) do not like to take what they dish out.

  • KC on March 5, 2007, 9:20 GMT

    nice... but abrupt... Where's the rest of the article?

  • Johanne on March 5, 2007, 9:14 GMT

    Disagree with many of the sentiments expressed here. You can certainly be king of the hill and not be arrogant, boorish, obnoxious at the same time. Witness Gilchrist, Taylor, Langer, and even perhaps Stuey Clark. People who feel they need to be otherwise to become and remain cock of the walk, king of the hill (Glenn McGrath-style), have something missing in their make-up.

    Perhaps other teams will become that too. (They may already be half-way there). And therein lies the danger. What happens when they too "wise up" and begin to dish out the same stuff? Do we then allow for jousting matches (sic) in the middle as they do in ice hockey, which is all part of the fun value of the game?

    As for the Aussies getting off with lighter penalties... ah... well nothing succeeds like success. Ask John Howard.

  • Marty on March 5, 2007, 8:55 GMT

    I enjoyed your article very much. The link between arrogance and success is a fun one to debate.

    Suresh - the 'infamous McGrath - Sarwan episode'. If someone insulted my wife, who was suffering from cancer, I'd launch a tirade too. Guess it must be an Australian thing.

    On the topic of the Aussies' arrogance - it's actually better these days than around 5 years ago. If we can finish off these stupid over the top bowlers celebrations (cough Brett Lee), I'll be happy.

  • Dan Mullen on March 5, 2007, 8:53 GMT

    Sorry, the claim that all successful teams behave the way recent Aussie cricket teams did does not wash. You didnt get too much lip about a batsman's mom, sis, race, or instructions on playing whatever shot from Robers, Holding, Garner or Marshall. "If looks can kill ... ," to quote one very successful batsman from that era.

  • Vasu on March 5, 2007, 8:12 GMT

    Nicely presented. Does this mean that we will get to see similar articles on other teams as well?

  • Vas on March 5, 2007, 7:55 GMT

    The thing that annoys me is ppl merely assuming that the Australians are the founders of such extroverted arrogance. To put it plainly, success breeds confidence, and when you have been as confident and successful as this Australian team has been, arrogance is never far away.

    But all successful eras in sport have been able to maintain their winning ways due to not only their ability but also the arrogance in believing they can overcome any adversity and fight off any foe. If people are so ready to complain about the Australian cricketers, then similar can be laid against the American swimmers, the mighty basketball Dream Team, and various football clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. Every one of these associations were able to maintain their glory and success through their arrogant belief that they could overcome their opponents, something which the Australian cricket team merely copies. There are plenty of quotes to think over when trying to compare John Buchanan with Sir Alex Ferguson.

    I guarantee that the next successful era in cricket after Australia are finally done will also exhibit these 'arrogant qualities'. It's about trying to capitalise on any advantage you have over your opponents and using it to your benefit. And not only is that fair by the rules, but also intelligent tactics. Besides, any notions of the Australian team being horribly arrogant are just made by people who have deluded ideas of cricket still being the 'gentleman's game'...

  • harshad on March 5, 2007, 7:13 GMT

    interesting article...the aussies were better than anyone else in the world for the last 10 years..their arrogance was kind of justified. Any team in any sport that has dominated the sport so much for so long would have behaved the exact same way.. being merciless, ruthless, etc is part of the way they are taught to play the game and there's nothing wrong with that. If their manners and language is what bothers you...well...they were all a bunch of convicts put on an island so they were out of everyone's way..once upon a time...

  • Samir Hajarnis on March 5, 2007, 7:11 GMT

    Tsk Tsk Strong words indeed, Mr. Kesavan. Buit really, This attitude has helped them dominate world cricket for a long time. Winning happens in the mind and good guys finish last ... at least most of the time .... Do you tell me Gavaskar and boycott were less bloodyminded than these ruffians, Sachin's innings of yore had more blood and gore than your average crime flick. But with these giants, it was in their mind and they just believed in their greatness or made their minds believe in it. If you are not overly endowed in the thinking department you have to convince yourself in more graphic terms, which is what these hoboes are doing. If you think world cricket should be kind and gentle, forget winning, join a kitty party ... and if you think there's less viciousness there ... you are mistaken

  • Suresh on March 5, 2007, 7:01 GMT

    Behaviural aspect of the Australian cricket teams over past 20 years can be in interesting topic of research. While they always had a reputation for playing the game hard they were never regarded as roadside bullys. Allan Border in his quest to stop the alarming slide of the Australian team under him, created this culture of being tough and unfriendly on field. After he won the Ashes with these tactics in 1989, I think the Aussies went overboard with sledging, abusing the opponents. The timid match referees did not help the situation as even after blatant voilations of the code of conduct Michael Slater was let off after his spat when his catch of Rahul Dravid was disallowed. Also the infamous Mcgrath - Sarwan episode where not only was Mcgrath let off lightly but also got the backing of his Prime Minister John Howard who supported his disgusting behaviour as 'a typical Australian thing to do'. Clearly the Aussies cannot take what they love dishing out to others. The whole cricketing world knows they are the worst in this aspect on the field but surprisingly yet unfortunately we have hardly any instances of an Australian player pulled up for bad behaviour on the field by the match refree.

    I agree that Adam Gilchrist really stands out by his exceptional behaviour. MArk Taylor was another exception in this regard but we really have to struggle to think of more names.

    Their performance certainly is staggering but cannot justify such acts on the field.

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  • Suresh on March 5, 2007, 7:01 GMT

    Behaviural aspect of the Australian cricket teams over past 20 years can be in interesting topic of research. While they always had a reputation for playing the game hard they were never regarded as roadside bullys. Allan Border in his quest to stop the alarming slide of the Australian team under him, created this culture of being tough and unfriendly on field. After he won the Ashes with these tactics in 1989, I think the Aussies went overboard with sledging, abusing the opponents. The timid match referees did not help the situation as even after blatant voilations of the code of conduct Michael Slater was let off after his spat when his catch of Rahul Dravid was disallowed. Also the infamous Mcgrath - Sarwan episode where not only was Mcgrath let off lightly but also got the backing of his Prime Minister John Howard who supported his disgusting behaviour as 'a typical Australian thing to do'. Clearly the Aussies cannot take what they love dishing out to others. The whole cricketing world knows they are the worst in this aspect on the field but surprisingly yet unfortunately we have hardly any instances of an Australian player pulled up for bad behaviour on the field by the match refree.

    I agree that Adam Gilchrist really stands out by his exceptional behaviour. MArk Taylor was another exception in this regard but we really have to struggle to think of more names.

    Their performance certainly is staggering but cannot justify such acts on the field.

  • Samir Hajarnis on March 5, 2007, 7:11 GMT

    Tsk Tsk Strong words indeed, Mr. Kesavan. Buit really, This attitude has helped them dominate world cricket for a long time. Winning happens in the mind and good guys finish last ... at least most of the time .... Do you tell me Gavaskar and boycott were less bloodyminded than these ruffians, Sachin's innings of yore had more blood and gore than your average crime flick. But with these giants, it was in their mind and they just believed in their greatness or made their minds believe in it. If you are not overly endowed in the thinking department you have to convince yourself in more graphic terms, which is what these hoboes are doing. If you think world cricket should be kind and gentle, forget winning, join a kitty party ... and if you think there's less viciousness there ... you are mistaken

  • harshad on March 5, 2007, 7:13 GMT

    interesting article...the aussies were better than anyone else in the world for the last 10 years..their arrogance was kind of justified. Any team in any sport that has dominated the sport so much for so long would have behaved the exact same way.. being merciless, ruthless, etc is part of the way they are taught to play the game and there's nothing wrong with that. If their manners and language is what bothers you...well...they were all a bunch of convicts put on an island so they were out of everyone's way..once upon a time...

  • Vas on March 5, 2007, 7:55 GMT

    The thing that annoys me is ppl merely assuming that the Australians are the founders of such extroverted arrogance. To put it plainly, success breeds confidence, and when you have been as confident and successful as this Australian team has been, arrogance is never far away.

    But all successful eras in sport have been able to maintain their winning ways due to not only their ability but also the arrogance in believing they can overcome any adversity and fight off any foe. If people are so ready to complain about the Australian cricketers, then similar can be laid against the American swimmers, the mighty basketball Dream Team, and various football clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. Every one of these associations were able to maintain their glory and success through their arrogant belief that they could overcome their opponents, something which the Australian cricket team merely copies. There are plenty of quotes to think over when trying to compare John Buchanan with Sir Alex Ferguson.

    I guarantee that the next successful era in cricket after Australia are finally done will also exhibit these 'arrogant qualities'. It's about trying to capitalise on any advantage you have over your opponents and using it to your benefit. And not only is that fair by the rules, but also intelligent tactics. Besides, any notions of the Australian team being horribly arrogant are just made by people who have deluded ideas of cricket still being the 'gentleman's game'...

  • Vasu on March 5, 2007, 8:12 GMT

    Nicely presented. Does this mean that we will get to see similar articles on other teams as well?

  • Dan Mullen on March 5, 2007, 8:53 GMT

    Sorry, the claim that all successful teams behave the way recent Aussie cricket teams did does not wash. You didnt get too much lip about a batsman's mom, sis, race, or instructions on playing whatever shot from Robers, Holding, Garner or Marshall. "If looks can kill ... ," to quote one very successful batsman from that era.

  • Marty on March 5, 2007, 8:55 GMT

    I enjoyed your article very much. The link between arrogance and success is a fun one to debate.

    Suresh - the 'infamous McGrath - Sarwan episode'. If someone insulted my wife, who was suffering from cancer, I'd launch a tirade too. Guess it must be an Australian thing.

    On the topic of the Aussies' arrogance - it's actually better these days than around 5 years ago. If we can finish off these stupid over the top bowlers celebrations (cough Brett Lee), I'll be happy.

  • Johanne on March 5, 2007, 9:14 GMT

    Disagree with many of the sentiments expressed here. You can certainly be king of the hill and not be arrogant, boorish, obnoxious at the same time. Witness Gilchrist, Taylor, Langer, and even perhaps Stuey Clark. People who feel they need to be otherwise to become and remain cock of the walk, king of the hill (Glenn McGrath-style), have something missing in their make-up.

    Perhaps other teams will become that too. (They may already be half-way there). And therein lies the danger. What happens when they too "wise up" and begin to dish out the same stuff? Do we then allow for jousting matches (sic) in the middle as they do in ice hockey, which is all part of the fun value of the game?

    As for the Aussies getting off with lighter penalties... ah... well nothing succeeds like success. Ask John Howard.

  • KC on March 5, 2007, 9:20 GMT

    nice... but abrupt... Where's the rest of the article?

  • Suresh on March 5, 2007, 9:28 GMT

    Marty,

    I did not want to bring this up but you are forgetting that the episode was started by Mcgrath by asking "How does Brian Lara's **** taste ?" To me that was an insulting and a totally unnecessary question in the first place. The answer to that was just a reaction. Once you insult someone, you cannot define boundaries within which the other guy should react. You cannot isolate these things and only glorify Mcgrath's reaction as an "Australian thing" thereby condoning him for starting it off. That's what I meant when I said Australians (cricketers I mean) do not like to take what they dish out.