Ask someone in the street to describe a typical Australian cricketer and you can bet the same few words would keep cropping up. Angry. Moustachioed. Brick. Shithouse. Brutish. Moustachioed, again. These caricatures probably originated when the televisual world was still black and white and the images lasted for several decades. Dennis Lillee with an open shirt, porn star moustache and flowing hair, looking as if he was about to wrestle an ostrich. Another Ashes image from the 1970s is the ocker Jeff Thomson bowling to the gentlemanly David Steele. Later on Allan Border’s snarl emanated from under his feral beard and was repeated throughout his team. David Boon and Merv Hughes were two men from the same mould: fat and angry, with a ferret under each nose. Even the latter day Australians shared some of these traits. Jason Gillespie certainly never went any near a barbers in his life, let alone a salon. He probably used a baby crocodile to cut his hair. Glenn McGrath, the metronomic fast bowler straight out of a caravan could, in another life, have been the kind of wandering gun-toting rebel that denim-clad men in Outback bars sing about. Hell, even footy-loving, pizza-eating bleach boy Shane Warne could have worked the mines in Coober Pedy without receiving a second look.
The Aussies nowadays though? Not only are they, shall we say, less able, on the whole, than the previous generations, but to be frank they are less manly as well. Rather pretty boys, if we dare say so. Okay, Peter Siddle shares the scowl of Hughes or Craig McDermott, but he drinks slush puppies! Whenever Bruce Reid got injured, he’d demolish a crate or two of Castlemaine before lunchtime. And considering how often he was injured, that’s a lot of XXXX. But the Mitchells Johnson and Starc? One spends more time modelling underwear and playing with kittens than he does working on a ranch (his tattoes aren’t fooling us), the other looks like he’d be scared setting foot outside of the western suburbs. Yeah, Dave Warner may have had a ‘tache, but this was some charity stunt, he didn’t cultivate it in order to scare his missus or simply because that’s what blokes do in Broken Hill. Take his bad behaviour in Birmingham’s Walkabout bar: a proper Aussie would have sent their victim sprawling over a table with one fist and then nicked his beer with the other, whereas it sounds like Warner barely tickled Root’s jaw. He was probably drinking WKD.
Bluntly, there’s one troubling thing about this Australian team, from the handsome grin of captain Michael Clarke down through the buck-toothed cavalier stylings of Phil Hughes to the meterosexualness of Shane Watson, and that’s that they could all be mistaken for Brits. And nothing sums up this touring squad more than that. We doubt that even the appointment of Darren Lehmann as new coach will rectify matters – he might have suggested the solution to the team’s problems would be sorting out squabbles over a beer, but also added the option of a diet coke. Seriously, the main question for England’s team of analysts to answer should be whether their opposition are a group of big girls’ blouses or a bunch of wet blankets.