Readers will be aware that on 15 April 1912, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank killing over 1500 people, including the captain, whose name was Smith. The recent ball tampering incident was the iceberg that holed HMAS Cricket, and once again Captain Smith is standing at the rail as the water surges around him.
Australia is complicated.
We love larrikins, but we hate cheats.
The land that produced Don Bradman also produced Shane Warne, Ned Kelly and Fine Cotton, and (most) Australians have no problem including all of these within the pantheon of Aussie heroes and anti-heroes.
Mind you, there’s been a subtle storm brewing around the Aussie cricket team for some time. The public don’t really know the details but the perceived arrogance ratio has been rising. Loveable bad boys like Ian Chappell, Doug Walters, Kerry O’Keefe, Mark Waugh and Warnie were never perceived as arrogant. They were approachable, spoke our language and were ‘one of the boys’. Others like Rod Marsh and David Boon broke Qantas drinking records and so became legends.
There are rules against such antics these days, but with the demise of larrikinism has come the rise of elitism and separateness. The fans now perceive themselves as being more outside the inner circle than ever before and while they tolerate it, they also watch their heroes closely for signs of arrogance – indications they are no longer ‘one of the boys’.
At the same time we have seen an increased superficial embrace of tradition, such as baggy green ceremonies for new players, while the genuine underlying traditional values are apparently being eroded.
The rot started when we heard stories like Andrew Symonds excluding anyone who hadn’t been a test player from the drinking group in a public hotel. That was bad enough but the fact that the other players let him do it was disturbing.