Post-Ashes cricket thread 🦗

eggs
cricket!

#121

Amount of sympathy I have for Australian cricket = 0.
Actually glorious to behold.


#122

With Smith coming out with his admission, I don’t think he expected the tidal wave of disappointment, anger and resentment that people held. I agree that it was the right thing to do and can’t have been easy for him to come out and say - but I think he did so midjudging the reaction. I really think he was expecting people to say ‘fair play, mate. On we go.’

It’s been interesting and heartening to see the Aussie media (rightly) laying into this group as well not only over this episode, but various others in recent months.

Hopefully this will begin to see a shift in certain attitudes (not solely Australian) within the game - the occasional verbal is to be expected and a clever sledge can enhance the game. Having a fast bowler fired up and fizzing snorter after snorter past a batsman’s nose and then chirping away is brilliant fun (Allan Donald to Atherton, for example).Too many big names (Kohli, Stokes to name a couple of non Aussies) go outside the strictures of what’s acceptable from time to time these days, though imho.

I know the whole ‘spirit’ of the game thing is probably a bit nineteenth century, but one of the reasons I find watching cricket to be such a wonderful release from the overhyped nonsense that Football has become is because teams tend to treat eachother with respect and, generally speaking, players aren’t trying to deceive umpires through illegal means.


#123

One hundred likes for that third point. This wouldn’t be half as much fun as it is if it wasn’t for the schadenfreude of watching a team who crow about causing mental disintegration in their opponents and boast about wanting to “end a few careers” fall foul of exactly those things.


#124

Warner, Smith and Bancroft on the way home. Be interesting to see what further sanctions there are. Reports/rumours that Warner is going to be the big fall out of all of this

Lehmann stays put which I am very surprised at - has a lot to answer for and so far said nothing (i know probably under strict orders). He has to make some time about the footage with the walkie talkie

Long way to go in all of this


#125

Yeah, looks like Warner is the Aussie Pietersen and could have played his last Test.

Like you I’m surprised nothing’s happen to Lehmann.


#126

Impressive how they have managed to manoeuvre to this being all David Warner’s fault when he didn’t do the ball tampering, nor is he captain or coach. But he is easily the least popular of the four.


#127

One of the most interesting things to me about this whole business is that the team seem to have fundamentally misread how they are viewed by the wider Australian public. Rather than pride in their headbutt the line/hard but fair/mental disintegration bollocks that they assumed was the general feeling, it seems that the public merely put up with it, they were perhaps more embarrassed by it than anything else. And when it went far too far, years of annoyance and irritation spilled out.

Perhaps it will signal a wholesale change in how Australia play the game in future, not disimilar to how England openly copied the NZ way of doing things/attitude a few years ago after years of trying to be Australia-lite.

Of course I’m sat many thousand miles away from Australia in my English living room and speaking for the Aussie cricket watching public, but that’s how it seems to me.


#128

yep if the reports are true he has lost support of the team

removed from the WhatsApp group!


#129

Holy fuck. The ultimate sanction.


#130

sorry, removed himself, apparently…

so many ‘apparentlys’ at the moment!


#131

‘Apparently’ all Warner’s fault though. Like he is the snake in Australia’s cricketing Garden of Eden. Tempting poor Steve Smith.

(That is just my interpretation of the papers today and my colleagues views)


#132

I think there has been talk of his attitude for a long time - this could be the nail


#133

Convenient that this was all apparently his fault then.


#134

I am flabbergasted that Lehmann has no case to answer!


#135

He doesn’t have WhatsApp


#136

Peter Lalor’s, one of the great cricket writers, editorial in the Australian today rings true for me (it’s a long read c+p due to paywall -

"They’ll be taking Steve Smith’s faces off the cereal packets. Removing his image from the poles and buildings as if to signal the regime change. He’s fallen.

It’s heartbreaking — even if he does deserve everything that’s coming his way, although I suspect he doesn’t deserve all of it. This pile-on is unseemly but speaks volumes. I want to hug him and say it will be all right but I know it won’t.

The ceiling was sagging in the dressing room long before he entered it. The roof had been leaking for years. Nobody was interested in the rising damp because there was so much sunshine. Nobody noticed how low they had to stoop.

And then it caved in. And every indiscretion and negligence of past and current tenants fell on the head of Smith and whoever was with him that lunchtime on day three at Cape Town.

David Warner was certainly one. There’s a sense that every time there’s a bin fire in cricket the opener has been seen wandering from the scene with a pocketbook of matches, an empty can of petrol and a ‘wasn’t me’ shrug.

It’s not all him. The contempt has been building for years. Opposition players have danced a jig of delight that this has caught up with the Australians. They aren’t holding back in public and in private.

The blame game has started in Australian cricket’s inner circle. They’re under siege and turning on each other. Cameron Bancroft is collateral damage. A man in his eighth Test he knew nothing but the environment he walked into. He was stupid and he deserves punishment but the fact the match referee didn’t even see fit to suspend him for a game suggests something. He says he was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”. He was, Nuremberg style, just following orders.

Warner, the ball maintenance man, will argue that he has just been doing his job. The bowlers benefit from it. The team benefited from it. The coach, well, the coach sets the agenda. He’s not exactly the retiring type.

Smith’s clumsy attempt to protect the identity of his co-conspirator(s) had an unfortunate side-effect. Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc were rightly upset and wanted it corrected.

Back to Smith because I can’t shake the sadness about his demise. Here was one of the most personable, least calculating, more talented and one of the more genuinely decent people to skipper the Australian team in recent decades.

That’s no knock on the others, but Smith has an openness, even naivety, that few of those men had.

Here was a man with no pretensions. An enthusiast. In Port Elizabeth he’d been out with his drone (the fad that’s keeping them occupied this tour) and he’d filmed a pod of dolphins swimming beyond the waves. It was spectacular footage and he couldn’t wait to show it, standing in his towel in the foyer of the team hotel, as excited as a kid with a new toy. Which he was.

Smith entered the highest office in Australian sport wearing shorts and thongs, opened the door and greeted all comers with a goofy grin.

And, boy, can he play. Gifted with natural talent but not on the scale of an AB de Villiers who has had his bat kissed by God, Smith worked and works and worked and works and grafted a goofy approach that has seen him achieve results in his career no batsman, Bradman aside, had.

The outrage is searing, crippling even. People are concerned for him. He cuts such a lonely, devastated figure in the corridors of the hotel. Most of the others have their families with them, for once he is flying solo.

It’s a mark of his character that he saw a bus headed for Bancroft, knew that it wasn’t right and attempted to throw himself in front of it. He knew he couldn’t completely protect the opener but he wanted to share his pain. How many would have done that? How much has it cost Smith?

If he’d kept quiet this could have been “managed”. Maybe if he had his time again he would. What sort of person voluntarily risks all they have achieved?

This time a few days back Smith had the world at his feet. He was the friendly face of Australia’s favourite sport. Indian franchises were willing to pay him the best part of $2.5 million to turn out for a month or so. Australia paid him around $2m just to play cricket. How good was life?

The ground that was at his feet has crumbled and Smith is plummeting, hitting a world at every plunge like the character in Emily Dickinson’s poem. There’s a funereal air around the Australian cricket team in Cape Town but there’s nobody sending flowers or notes of sympathy.

I want to understand what happened in the dressing room that lunch time. You might want to bury Smithy but it shouldn’t stop you taking the time to wonder how this god awful mess came about.

The pressures of captaining the Australian team are immense. Greg Chappell talked about the mental strain that led to the underarm moment that Trevor Chappell says has haunted him the rest of his life. Every time he enters a room there’s an announcement from the PA, “here is Trevor underarm Chappell, the man who brought disgrace on Australian cricket”. He’s almost an old man now but a moment in his youth, in another century, stalks him.

Captains go crazy with the strain. Most crack at some point. Sometimes it’s calamitous, other times just a little unsettling. Ricky Ponting turned on an England coach in unseemly scenes as the Ashes slipped away, he took a catch once and threw the ball into the turf as a World Cup slipped away. He did it because another fielder collided with him. Steve Smith was his name.

Allan Border is a simple man, an exception to life’s usual course in that he has grown less grumpy with age. He snapped regularly as skipper, said things to his teammates that he regretted, but it was his release valve. He blew up once and was briefly on strike over selection. Refusing to go with the team, yelling on the phone instead of playing.

Michael Clarke got himself into some dark places. His captaincy was hanging by a thread on the day Phillip Hughes died. He had gone off the reservation and Cricket Australia was considering disciplinary action against him.

In Joseph Conrad’s classic novel Lord Jim , Jim is a friendly young man who makes a critical bad decision in the heat of the moment. Unlike others who are possibly more culpable he faces the music, but the shame haunts him for the rest of his life.

Smith will be beating himself harder than anybody can beat him over this. He’s done something foolish and he’s paying for it like few before him. Politicians lie and cheat and stay in office unscathed. Everybody does something they are ashamed of.

The greatest shame is that moment of treachery is so out of character with everything else about Steve Smith.

Maybe I had him wrong, but I am pretty sure I don’t. He can’t remain as captain and he can’t play cricket for Australia again for some time, but he should not be exiled or excoriated forever."


#137

Can’t argue with much of that really.

Although I would say the whole analogy about Bancroft and the bus sort of ignores that it was seemingly Smith and Warner who put him there so frankly I don’t have too much sympathy for his getting in trouble trying to save him from it. If he hadn’t sanctioned the actions in the first place he wouldn’t have had to do it. Sympathy for this being well over the top I can understand, sympathy suggesting it should be someone else in the firing other than him less so.

This has genuinely consumed hours of discussion in my company of about 25 people the last three days. It’s fucking ridiculous.


#138

So obviously I am supplementing that by posting on the internet about it too


#139

Totally with you there - the amount of discussion at all levels has been crazy

This was apt -


#140

CA have banned Smith and Warner for 12 months, and Bancroft for 9 months. If Warner is as far out on a limb is he seems, that’s probably it for him, but leaves the door open for Smith and to a lesser extent Bancroft to come back.