How do you go from being a national team captain and figure-head of a fast food chain to being roadkill within the space of a couple of weeks? We have no idea, but it helps if your last name rhymes with shite. In the fallout after the fracas between Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels in last year’s Big Bash league it’s easy to forget that Cameron White was also fined for dissent towards the umpires. In fact, as it turns out, White was hit with a larger fine than Shane Warne received for his own little act of petulance (although Warne was later also fined for deliberate physical contact and obscene language, because that’s just how he rolls). That little episode neatly sums up he career of White to date: utterly forgettable.
White’s fall from grace was truly remarkable. At the beginning of 2011 he was Australia’s T20 captain, and stand in captain for the ODI team, which he lead to a win in the last game of that oh so remarkable series against England following the 2010/11 Ashes. After a long rise that began with being named as Victoria’s youngest ever Shield captain when he was just 20, this moment seemed set to herald the true beginning of a long international career. But barely twelve months later he was stripped of his Cricket Australia contract and exiled to the purgatory that is the Australian domestic scene never, seemingly, to return.
In fact White’s career has much in common with that of Australia’s favourite son: Steven Peter Devereux Smith. Both made their Test débuts as ‘bowlers who can bat a bit’, Smith in the aforementioned 2010/11 Ashes series, while for White it was the 2008 tour of India that is more famous for introducing Jason Krejza to the world. Both endured somewhat lean returns, although describing White’s five wickets for the series at 68.7 runs apiece as ‘lean’ is pushing things a bit. Both were subsequently dumped and sought to reinvent themselves by dropping the ‘bowls a bit’ tag and becoming specialist batsmen. It’s here their fortunes diverged.
A simple look at their overall respective first-class averages, 40.28 for White and 41.65 for Smith suggests there is little between them, but dig a bit deeper and a different story emerges. In the Shield season just gone both were neck and neck, averaging approximately 37 apiece. Go back the season before, however, and while Smith averaged 42, White’s plummeted to 20.9, and the season before that it was a marginally better 28. This was when the rot set in that saw White booted out of international cricket, seemingly never to return, whilst Smith has powered forward, like Mark Cosgrove towards an unattended buffet table.
Nowadays even White’s gig as the public face of KFC down under has been usurped by those lovely Madden brothers from Good Charlotte, who were so keen to get their hands on that filthy filthy lucre (we’re not talking about the chicken here), they were seemingly happy to abrogate their former involvement with PETA. Apparently it turns out that chickens like having their beaks and claws turned into chicken nuggets and other associated chicken related products. Who knew?
So what’s left for White then? Not a lot really. With George Bailey having taken over the mantle of ‘Captain of the Australian T20 team despite not being very good at anything’ (a fiercely fought over position), there just doesn’t seem to be any room for White anywhere any more. He even handed over the captaincy of the Melbourne Stars to James Faulkner. Sorry, we mean Shane Warne (or do we?…..). There was even talk of his being dumped from the Victorian set-up altogether at one stage, so rubbish was his form.
Happily for White he escaped that final humiliation, and still has the consoling company of other such Test discards as Brad Hodge, Andrew McDonald, Chris Rogers and Matt Wade (oh please let that happen) to cheer him up. Perhaps they all gather on full moons at clandestine meetings where they plot their revenge against those that spurned them. If so Australian cricket probably doesn’t have a whole lot to fear given they’ll probably all fall out with each other well before putting their nefarious plan into action, arguing over who gets the pick of the sponsorship deals.