Michael Jeh January 24, 2009

What is not Australian?

What about the fact that if the Deccan Chargers reach the final against his beloved Qld Bulls (if they hadn’t been knocked out), Symonds would be happily playing against his own mates, against the team that nurtured him to his current stardom
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The response to NSW signing Brendon McCullum for their Twenty20 Final against Victoria on Saturday night has divided certain sections of the local cricket population. Andrew Symonds lit the fire by claiming that it was “not Australian” and Dave Gilbert, the CEO of Cricket NSW has responded by labelling Symonds a “hypocrite”.

It’s an amusing little by-play to a competition that needs to be kept in context. It is Twenty20 after all, a bit of a circus, a bit of fun but never meant to be taken too seriously. Unless of course the Champions Trophy prize money warrants it being taken very seriously indeed. So seriously that a team is prepared to fly in an international ‘import’ to help them win a game.

To Symonds’s comments first though: he is obviously referring to the fact that a local NSW player must make way for McCullum in the final. By invoking the ‘un-Australian’ theme, he has chosen to follow the lead of opportunistic politicians and aim a blow at the very heart of the national psyche. For those of you unfamiliar with the gravity of being labelled “un-Australian”, it is a tactic that is regularly used in this country to describe the lowest of low acts. Once you have been labelled thus, you are nothing but a cad and a bounder, lower than a snake’s belly, deserving of contempt. Being called un-Australian is about as shameful as it gets (apparently).

Politicians use it all the time to describe anyone who unfairly sacks their workers or someone who steals a pensioner’s handbag or deserts a friend in need. It is an act that goes beyond being merely wrong – it strikes at the very heart of national pride. With these cutting words, Symonds has ensured that all of NSW will choke on their barbecued prawns and sausages on Australia Day on Monday. It is a mortal wound, this un-Australian business.

As trivial as this particular incident is in the larger scheme of things, it begs the question of why Australia seems to have monopolised some basic human qualities and turned it into an exclusive moral high ground, firmly contained within our own borders. We like to think of it simplistically as a “fair go”. I’m sure the rest of the world has other names to describe similar qualities but is it couched in nationalistic jargon? Some things are just wrong or right, regardless of which culture or country you identify with.

If one was to ever take politicians seriously (fortunately, no one here does – that would be un-Australian of course!), one could be forgiven for thinking that no other country on Earth shared these common values of mateship, decency, honesty, loyalty, generosity etc. It’s almost become a joke now when people label something universal as un-Australian because it is so clearly something that would apply to any people of the world. As if knocking an old lady down in the street, stealing her purse and kicking her dog is perfectly OK in any other part of the world. How ridiculous.

Cricket NSW is not going to stand for that sort of insult though. Anything but that. Once you’ve been called un-Australian, you have no choice but to defend your honour to the bitter end. They’ve fired back by asking how Symonds can justify his moral stance against the McCullum signing when he is happy to play for an IPL team and deny a local player a spot in his local team. What about Symonds’ stints in county cricket? Is that not denying a local his place in the team? Using that logic, surely playing a whole season and denying a local boy his spot for 6 months is worse than McCullum's cameo.

There are slight differences of course. This is a final, McCullum hasn’t played any of the lead-up games and most Australians love hating NSW. It’s un-Australian not to. What about the fact that Sohail Tanvir and Umar Gul have played for other teams in the competition? What about the fact that if the Deccan Chargers reach the final against his beloved Qld Bulls (if they hadn’t been knocked out), Symonds would be happily playing against his own mates, against the team that nurtured him to his current stardom? Would that not be un-Australian?

There's another twist in the tale. Apparently Victoria are thinking of hiring Adam Gilchrist or Shane Warne to play for them in the final. Is that un-Australian too or is it different if one Australian player replaces another, despite not having played a single game for this team in the current competition? Warne is at least a Victorian but Gilchrist is as removed from Victoria as McCullum is from NSW.

Perhaps where big money is involved, misplaced notions of national pride conveniently disappear. Is it un-Australian to have a selective memory? Or is that a trait that mankind shares in common?

It’s only Twenty20 cricket, a bit of fun and not to be taken too seriously. I write this in that vein, tongue-in-cheek and irreverently poking fun at my own country. With Australia Day just two days away, it’s positively Australian to take the mickey out of your own mates. Anything less would be…….yep you guessed it……un-Australian!

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Noelene on February 2, 2009, 17:55 GMT

    Typical of a lot of immigrants,come to our country,and criticise the people or life style.It is where the term whinging pom came from.Symonds is entitled to express his opinion,just as a born and bred Englishman is entitled to tell people what is Australian or not.I am not your mate,so why are you taking the mickey?Taking the mickey is not criticising your mate in front of a room full of people.Keep trying,you may be Australian one day.

  • R Sivasubramaniam on January 25, 2009, 16:35 GMT

    Symonds has a lot of talent and he is one person (when in form) can turn any cricket match around - but of late his performances outside cricket seem to be making headlines. Rather than chide him, CA or those involved in his welfare should make him see the error in his ways. There is still a lot of cricketing talent left in him and it would be a shame to see it go to waste. Can someone please help him. Siva from Singapore

  • Adhil on January 25, 2009, 8:00 GMT

    Hi guys! Theres no need to apologize,i was furious when i read that article,i can get really annoyed when the nz team gets picked on espically brendon whose my cricket hero

  • jogesh99 on January 25, 2009, 6:46 GMT

    How 'un-Australian Test cricketer' of you Marcus. You would never be picked by Ponting and his Crusaders. :)

  • Marcus on January 25, 2009, 6:05 GMT

    I've seen those comments now, and I apologise to Adhil, and anyone else I may have offended.

  • Roy on January 25, 2009, 3:14 GMT

    Don't mind me, I'm just losing it in my old age... Since I gave up playing cricket for fishing and getting into bar fights I just need to run my mouth to keep myself from getting bored... Dont mind me!

  • Mahek on January 25, 2009, 0:42 GMT

    Why does anyone give a damn about Symonds anyway? Him and Harbhajan deserve each other for they lack the conduct that is expected from international sportsmen. And yes, he is a hypocrite to say McCullum is going to rob an Australian of a place.

  • graeme on January 24, 2009, 23:47 GMT

    While the epithet 'un-Australian' is used in some dubious ways by various people it is obvious that this move to install a player just for the final is repugnant.

    While professional sports all over the world drafts in almost anyone it pleases it usually requires you to live and play in the local community for at least one season. In that way you can form some kind of bond with the team and the area that you live in and create some sort of meaningful relationship with those you play with and the fans who support that team.

    When I saw that NSW had drafted in McCullum for one match I felt disgust. There has to be some sort of minium qualifications for playing in a final otherwise it will just degenerate into farce. This has already happened with the possibility that McCullum could play for 3 teams in 20/20 champions league! who the hell does he pick? The team with the most money of course.

    This may be the way of the future but such mercenary actions are not sport.

  • Chris on January 24, 2009, 23:01 GMT

    Uh @ Marcus, Symonds did indeed refer to Mccullum as a lump of shit on radio. Something similar to:

    "He's a lump of shit, sorry cow dirt"

    I don't know if I would consider it to be abuse however simply because the tirade that he spewed out was a collection of semi sensical garbage that he seemed to be pulling out of his ass as he could think of it. If you actually hear the recording it sounds like hes constantly tripping over himself.

  • Ross on January 24, 2009, 22:54 GMT

    Adhil as a Otago supporter I am annoyed that McCullum has missed his last game against the Firebirds... but with the comments on Australian Culture, bang on... You'd think the Australians had a monopoly on mateship, honesty and hard play... Kiwis only go to Australia for the money now...

  • Noelene on February 2, 2009, 17:55 GMT

    Typical of a lot of immigrants,come to our country,and criticise the people or life style.It is where the term whinging pom came from.Symonds is entitled to express his opinion,just as a born and bred Englishman is entitled to tell people what is Australian or not.I am not your mate,so why are you taking the mickey?Taking the mickey is not criticising your mate in front of a room full of people.Keep trying,you may be Australian one day.

  • R Sivasubramaniam on January 25, 2009, 16:35 GMT

    Symonds has a lot of talent and he is one person (when in form) can turn any cricket match around - but of late his performances outside cricket seem to be making headlines. Rather than chide him, CA or those involved in his welfare should make him see the error in his ways. There is still a lot of cricketing talent left in him and it would be a shame to see it go to waste. Can someone please help him. Siva from Singapore

  • Adhil on January 25, 2009, 8:00 GMT

    Hi guys! Theres no need to apologize,i was furious when i read that article,i can get really annoyed when the nz team gets picked on espically brendon whose my cricket hero

  • jogesh99 on January 25, 2009, 6:46 GMT

    How 'un-Australian Test cricketer' of you Marcus. You would never be picked by Ponting and his Crusaders. :)

  • Marcus on January 25, 2009, 6:05 GMT

    I've seen those comments now, and I apologise to Adhil, and anyone else I may have offended.

  • Roy on January 25, 2009, 3:14 GMT

    Don't mind me, I'm just losing it in my old age... Since I gave up playing cricket for fishing and getting into bar fights I just need to run my mouth to keep myself from getting bored... Dont mind me!

  • Mahek on January 25, 2009, 0:42 GMT

    Why does anyone give a damn about Symonds anyway? Him and Harbhajan deserve each other for they lack the conduct that is expected from international sportsmen. And yes, he is a hypocrite to say McCullum is going to rob an Australian of a place.

  • graeme on January 24, 2009, 23:47 GMT

    While the epithet 'un-Australian' is used in some dubious ways by various people it is obvious that this move to install a player just for the final is repugnant.

    While professional sports all over the world drafts in almost anyone it pleases it usually requires you to live and play in the local community for at least one season. In that way you can form some kind of bond with the team and the area that you live in and create some sort of meaningful relationship with those you play with and the fans who support that team.

    When I saw that NSW had drafted in McCullum for one match I felt disgust. There has to be some sort of minium qualifications for playing in a final otherwise it will just degenerate into farce. This has already happened with the possibility that McCullum could play for 3 teams in 20/20 champions league! who the hell does he pick? The team with the most money of course.

    This may be the way of the future but such mercenary actions are not sport.

  • Chris on January 24, 2009, 23:01 GMT

    Uh @ Marcus, Symonds did indeed refer to Mccullum as a lump of shit on radio. Something similar to:

    "He's a lump of shit, sorry cow dirt"

    I don't know if I would consider it to be abuse however simply because the tirade that he spewed out was a collection of semi sensical garbage that he seemed to be pulling out of his ass as he could think of it. If you actually hear the recording it sounds like hes constantly tripping over himself.

  • Ross on January 24, 2009, 22:54 GMT

    Adhil as a Otago supporter I am annoyed that McCullum has missed his last game against the Firebirds... but with the comments on Australian Culture, bang on... You'd think the Australians had a monopoly on mateship, honesty and hard play... Kiwis only go to Australia for the money now...

  • jzkramer on January 24, 2009, 21:53 GMT

    The term 'Un-Australian' is a synonym for unfair. It's also a platitude which is often said with a degree of irony. The larger basis of your article which takes offense at it's use, with the logic that it somehow presupposes that Australians think that only they are capable of humanity - is patently absurd. I suspect it bespeaks a strong dislike of the people you choose to live among - strange wouldn't you agree? It's one thing to not like Australians - Mukul Keshavan used to be straight up about his dislike for the so called 'Yanks of the South Pacific', but you fall well short of such honesty, rather relying on veiled criticisms to express the same sentiment. The problem with being small spirited and negative about one group of people - some of whom you would call your colleagues and friends - is the negative psychological ramifications inherent in such thinking. If you like where you live - how can you not like the people? You're at odds with yourself mate.

  • Anonymous on January 24, 2009, 21:09 GMT

    Un-australian is a synonym for something that is unfair. It's also an ironic platitude which is always said with some degree of tongue and cheek. The larger basis of your article which takes offense at it's use, with , used by australians

  • d3v on January 24, 2009, 20:51 GMT

    So the australians live in a world of their own? Not at all surprising that!

  • Aditya on January 24, 2009, 20:19 GMT

    The thing about Symonds is that he says some really stupid things and then wallows in self-pity going "why me" when all the controversies follow him. I'm not saying what's happened to him so far is right, but a lot of the time he has been the guy to start it...he started the sledging in Sydney, he started the pre-series barracking in India, and he was the one who was primarily responsible for the "gone fishing" saga. What Roy probably needs is to lose a bit of arrogance.

  • Abhijeet Dongre on January 24, 2009, 18:35 GMT

    Chris, I don't think this has anything to do with current performance of Australian team. This topic has always been coming up even when Australia was beating up everybody. It is a common question about how some people start thinking that certain nice traits are their monopoly. In fact I recently read a very similar article about certain 'American' values. As far as McCullum's signing goes, I would really love to see Symonds respond to NSW chief's comments...

  • Abhijeet Dongre on January 24, 2009, 18:26 GMT

    Marcus, Read this http://www.smh.com.au/news/sport/cricket/symonds-called-to-explain-slur/2009/01/24/1232471631706.html

    I don't know about Adhil but you certainly seem to have a chip on your shoulder from the Sydney test last year. I suppose the most 'Australian' thing for you to do now would be to apologize to Adhil :D

  • Abhijeet Dongre on January 24, 2009, 18:25 GMT

    Marcus, Read this http://www.smh.com.au/news/sport/cricket/symonds-called-to-explain-slur/2009/01/24/1232471631706.html

    I don't know about Adhil but you certainly seem to have a chip on your shoulder from the Sydney test last year. I suppose the most 'Australian' thing for you now would be to apologize to Adhil :D

  • waterbuffalo on January 24, 2009, 16:04 GMT

    Symonds did say "lump of ****" on a radio show. It is just another example of a very Australian way of doing things. Dish it out and give it out, but if someone else gives it back, run to your captain and complain like a baby. Or better yet, run to an umpire and report him. Frankly, to be "Australian" seems to me to behave like a spoiled brat. And it has been that way since Dennis Lillee.

  • Adhil on January 24, 2009, 16:02 GMT

    For the readers that are lost on what i am saying,kindly go and read the recent different strokes column on cricinfo

  • Eelco on January 24, 2009, 14:30 GMT

    Like said, McCullum hasn't played for NSW at all. The un Australian part for me the lack of of mateship; you play as a group from start to finish, despite the odds. To parachute McCullum in for a mere final is breaking up the group. To make matters worse, he is a Kiwi. PS please stop that diluting of Monkeygate; if I refer to all my Indian co workers as monkey's I don't think any of them will take it friendly either. Monkey calling was/is and will be racist.

  • YouTwonk on January 24, 2009, 13:55 GMT

    Adhil, could you at least try to make some sense ffs?

    Note: Adhil is making some sense. http://blogs.cricinfo.com/thebuzz/

  • Chris on January 24, 2009, 13:39 GMT

    I do notice that you took a few paragraphs to make an entirely unrelated jab at Australian culture. It's part of a rather obnoxious trend I've noticed among cricket writers over the past few months; sticking the boot into a team that's already down on the canvas.

    It's easy to kick 'em when they're down, isn't it. But is it really all that satisfying?

  • Marcus on January 24, 2009, 13:21 GMT

    Adhil

    Symonds never called McCullum a "lump of s**t." Is it possible you still have a chip on your shoulder from the Sydney test last year, if you're going to read this as racism? Maybe it wasn't very appropriate for Symonds to comment on the selection, but there's nothing I've read that could be taken as personal abuse on the part of Symonds, and I'd certainly hate to see any player punished simply for being frank.

  • John boon on January 24, 2009, 11:53 GMT

    Excellent article. i dont think anyone should take symonds too seriously though, he is, after all, Un-Australian and born in england.

  • Marcus on January 24, 2009, 9:52 GMT

    I don't quite get this "Un-Australian" business in general either. But I think the McCullum situation is a bit different to the Umar Gul or Sohail Tanvir situations. In both those cases, they were involved in the entire campaign, and if WA or SA had made the final it would have been with their contributions. But McCullum hasn't played for NSW at all. NSW got there without him, and it seems like more of a publicity grab on their part than a proper overseas signing (almost as bad as giving whats-his-name the Rugby player a couple of matches last season). It may or may not be "Un-Australian" but it certainly is bemusing!

  • Adhil on January 24, 2009, 9:05 GMT

    Snymonds has made new enemies that hates him now after picking on brendon.snymonds says brendon is a lump of shit or cows dirt,if baz is shit than the question is what is he(snymonds)? A monkey perhaps & if it were vis versa brendon calling him that,wont it be read as racial abuse? Most definitly.than why cant baz take it as racial why because he is a white.nzc should make move & cricket australia should punish snymonds

  • Arnab on January 24, 2009, 9:00 GMT

    very well written article, alot better than the simplistic and repetitive analysis of issues and games which have overtaken cricinfo, well written, with a sense of sarcasm without over doing it, a good read, but more importantly a fun read

  • Rex on January 24, 2009, 7:37 GMT

    I've always wondered why the Australians think aggression (related to cricket matters, of course) is a trait found only in Aussie players. If you could say that disdain to opposition bowlers combined with ceaseless aggression is "the" fundamental trait of an Aussie batsman, then Sewhag would be more Australian than any Aussie- even when he is searching for form he doesn't give up his attacking approach (like Hayden did during the slump preceding his retirement).

    When India make Australia look silly at Mohali, or when SA wriggle out of a tricky spot right under the Aussie noses at Melbourne, seasoned, unbiased commentators like Ian Chappell say "Australia have been beaten in their own game", "India/SA is the new Australia" and the like. What drivel is this? It is one thing to say Australia played great cricket in the past decade or so. But another to apply for a patent out of it. So silly really. (Blowing their own trumpet)

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  • Rex on January 24, 2009, 7:37 GMT

    I've always wondered why the Australians think aggression (related to cricket matters, of course) is a trait found only in Aussie players. If you could say that disdain to opposition bowlers combined with ceaseless aggression is "the" fundamental trait of an Aussie batsman, then Sewhag would be more Australian than any Aussie- even when he is searching for form he doesn't give up his attacking approach (like Hayden did during the slump preceding his retirement).

    When India make Australia look silly at Mohali, or when SA wriggle out of a tricky spot right under the Aussie noses at Melbourne, seasoned, unbiased commentators like Ian Chappell say "Australia have been beaten in their own game", "India/SA is the new Australia" and the like. What drivel is this? It is one thing to say Australia played great cricket in the past decade or so. But another to apply for a patent out of it. So silly really. (Blowing their own trumpet)

  • Arnab on January 24, 2009, 9:00 GMT

    very well written article, alot better than the simplistic and repetitive analysis of issues and games which have overtaken cricinfo, well written, with a sense of sarcasm without over doing it, a good read, but more importantly a fun read

  • Adhil on January 24, 2009, 9:05 GMT

    Snymonds has made new enemies that hates him now after picking on brendon.snymonds says brendon is a lump of shit or cows dirt,if baz is shit than the question is what is he(snymonds)? A monkey perhaps & if it were vis versa brendon calling him that,wont it be read as racial abuse? Most definitly.than why cant baz take it as racial why because he is a white.nzc should make move & cricket australia should punish snymonds

  • Marcus on January 24, 2009, 9:52 GMT

    I don't quite get this "Un-Australian" business in general either. But I think the McCullum situation is a bit different to the Umar Gul or Sohail Tanvir situations. In both those cases, they were involved in the entire campaign, and if WA or SA had made the final it would have been with their contributions. But McCullum hasn't played for NSW at all. NSW got there without him, and it seems like more of a publicity grab on their part than a proper overseas signing (almost as bad as giving whats-his-name the Rugby player a couple of matches last season). It may or may not be "Un-Australian" but it certainly is bemusing!

  • John boon on January 24, 2009, 11:53 GMT

    Excellent article. i dont think anyone should take symonds too seriously though, he is, after all, Un-Australian and born in england.

  • Marcus on January 24, 2009, 13:21 GMT

    Adhil

    Symonds never called McCullum a "lump of s**t." Is it possible you still have a chip on your shoulder from the Sydney test last year, if you're going to read this as racism? Maybe it wasn't very appropriate for Symonds to comment on the selection, but there's nothing I've read that could be taken as personal abuse on the part of Symonds, and I'd certainly hate to see any player punished simply for being frank.

  • Chris on January 24, 2009, 13:39 GMT

    I do notice that you took a few paragraphs to make an entirely unrelated jab at Australian culture. It's part of a rather obnoxious trend I've noticed among cricket writers over the past few months; sticking the boot into a team that's already down on the canvas.

    It's easy to kick 'em when they're down, isn't it. But is it really all that satisfying?

  • YouTwonk on January 24, 2009, 13:55 GMT

    Adhil, could you at least try to make some sense ffs?

    Note: Adhil is making some sense. http://blogs.cricinfo.com/thebuzz/

  • Eelco on January 24, 2009, 14:30 GMT

    Like said, McCullum hasn't played for NSW at all. The un Australian part for me the lack of of mateship; you play as a group from start to finish, despite the odds. To parachute McCullum in for a mere final is breaking up the group. To make matters worse, he is a Kiwi. PS please stop that diluting of Monkeygate; if I refer to all my Indian co workers as monkey's I don't think any of them will take it friendly either. Monkey calling was/is and will be racist.

  • Adhil on January 24, 2009, 16:02 GMT

    For the readers that are lost on what i am saying,kindly go and read the recent different strokes column on cricinfo