Crikey is building up an international network of expat Aussie columnists and “Shane” has offered up an interesting mix for his second column out of London.

Another fantastic week for Australian sport! As you’re all well aware we are 3-0 in The Ashes yet again despite England’s heroic fight back in the third test. “What fight back?” I hear you ask. Ahh, but you probably weren’t reading the English sporting press. Had you done so last week after the first innings you’d have thought that Australia had no hope of taking the match. Headlines such as “Aussies Crumble” and “Aussies Routed” beckoned our demise after we were all out for 190. Unfortunately, England could only manage 185 in the same innings. By the end of the test the excuses were flowing as fast as the beer in the Australian locker room. “Umpiring decisions went Australia’s way”, “too many good players injured”, etc, etc. Take it like a man England. You had your ass Royally kicked and there are two more to come.

The reports on Tim Henman are also of interest. Despite winning his latest round in the AS Masters Series the English press are already providing him with excuses for when he’s knocked out. The title to the article read “Routine victory for Henman but back trouble causes concern”. I would have thought there was nothing routine about it and the only thing of concern is his general ability.

So why are the English so bad at sport? The answer would have to lie in the fact that they play very little. Most excuses for this lie with the weather. However, when you consider the average temperature in England, I doubt if it would differ very much from Tasmania or perhaps even Victoria. Yet neither of those two locations would be considered “sporting prowess” black spots (unless you’re from Sydney in which case go read an article on the Harbour or something).

One clear problem with the infrastructure generally in the UK is the lack of public and private investment. Sporting facilities and programmes are no different. Like shareholders in telecommunications companies they demand cheaper call prices at home yet demand higher returns from their stocks. And so the English demand heroes but are unwilling to pay for the sporting facilities to nurture, support and grow sporting brilliance. England, 05 if you want it you have to pay for it. If not, don’t whinge about 1 to 6 gold medals in the Olympics and accept a position as a third world sporting nation.

Enough about sport and on to something a little more controversial. One of the major, and pleasing, differences between Australia and the UK is that the English do not bow to the Americans the way we do. The English will support Uncle Sam when it suits them but will proffer a cold shoulder when their views are not aligned. One clear example of this difference is made evident by the UK’s political views and press coverage of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Growing up in Australia, all I heard from our press was stories about the poor Israeli’s treatment at the hands of the Palestinian terrorists. And this may be the case – I’m not offering a view either way. The point is that the English press tell a different story; a story about the plight of the Palestinians.

I guess this proved, at least to me, the adage that there are two sides to every story. And there clearly is a Palestinian story to tell. My first reaction was to rebel against what I dutifully been taught by Brian Naylor every night at 6. Now I’m taking more of the middle ground. After two years of revealing stories about the treatment of the Palestinians at the hands of the Jewish settlers it would be hard to do otherwise.

Anyway, enough from me for now. I would appreciate any ideas for topics as I’m not a writer by trade and, clearly, am running a bit thin.

Cheers, Shane

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Peter Fray

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