A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

Australia Got 99 Problems, But Bitching Ain’t One

Posted on November 10, 2016 by in Opinion


You know Christmas is coming when ex-internationals suddenly appear in the media bitching about some of their former team-mates. That’s because they have books to sell and nothing pushes sales harder than flinging shit at all and sundry in the most public fashion possible. So for the past week we have been given a front row seat into the giddy bullshit that seemingly went on in the Australian dressing room (and in one notable case, the toilets), for the past decade or so. And my God, isn’t it all just so fucking boring?

The utter derision with which we treat such exposés is born from the fact that they are, ultimately, pointless. It’s sometimes argued that such goings-on are indicative of deeper issues affecting a team’s culture (whatever that means), but we’re pretty sure that players within winning teams are as big a bunch of dickheads as those in losing ones. That Michael Clarke’s authority as captain was questioned off the field is a serious allegation, but as long as it remained absolute on the field we can’t seem to care too much. Because surely nobody cares if players hate each others’ guts off the field, as long as they are still able to perform on it. Unless, you know, if you treat cricket purely as one long running soap opera. Which we are sure nobody does, as there are such better alternatives out there.

Some of which we just seem to enjoy watching for purely unknown reasons.

Some of which we just seem to enjoy watching for purely unknown reasons.

The only real cause for concern arises if, as was the case in the Australian setup for seemingly much of the 90’s, a clique of established players arise who make it very hard for new players to integrate themselves into the dressing room. Usually on account of the older players being pissed at new players having arrived at the expense of one of their mates. But although this was seemingly rife in the Aussie team of that period, nobody seemed to care very much at the time, or subsequently. Probably because they won a lot, and the new guys were often not very good anyway (sorry Scott Muller).

But this? This just seems petty and stupid. New players forming cliques on their own and leading to divisions in a team that ought to have been united behind the captain. The reason we couldn’t care less, is because none of this explains or excuses what subsequently happened on the field. Such as Australia forgetting how to bat in even a remotely competent manner in India in 2013. Or the same again in England in 2015. Or losing their collective shit at innumerable T20 World Cups, and one ODI World Cup. And why not? Because since all of these guys, with their petty bruised egos, have since retired, Australia have gone on to forget how to bat in even a remotely competent manner in Sri Lanka this past year, and then lost their collective shit in an ODI series in South Africa.

Australian cricket currently has a few serious issues to face, but players not getting on isn’t one of them (largely because who wouldn’t love to have Devereux as a captain?). More important are systemic issues associated with flawed techniques and temperaments in young batsmen, a dearth of top class spinning options and the usual bug bear of a raft of fast bowlers who are about as reliable as an Australian theme park ri….actually no. That’s still way too soon.


Let’s go with more reliable than the Galaxy Note 7 instead. Yeah. A much less controversial option…

The difference is that these are difficult problems that, in some cases, generations of coaches and administrators have been unable to answer. Or in the case of Darren Lehmann, seemingly even acknowledge. The complex nature of these issues doesn’t make for good stocking filler, while the aforementioned bitchiness does. But focusing on these issues, as the media almost universally has done this past week, is to ignore all of the bigger ones. Like a round of shield cricket (and now a Test match) that has further exposed Mitchell Marsh’s decline as a batting-allrounder, of the fact that their one strike bowler (Starc) is made of biscuits, of just how much more handsome Devereux looks in a blue cap than a baggy green (honestly, he does). Or even how Cricket Australia has projected making a massive financial loss in a season that features neither England or India, and what that might foretell for the future of cricket tours.

Admittedly hearing that Shane Watson flushed Mitchell Johnson’s head down a toilet is a damn funny story that has enriched everybody’s lives, but the rest is just utterly, utterly dull. Yet as KP’s first book almost certainly sold far better than his second (which was a much better work in every respect), so it seems that people will never tire of this stuff. We’re not claiming we are above trashy soap operas (we still weep whenever we think of Toadie and Dee driving off that cliff), but we’d just prefer to keep it separate from our sport.

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