Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist
would like to advise us all that the Australian gentlemen’s cricket team is
virtually alone in defending the traditional virtues of honour and sportsmanship. He is apparently serious.

The weekend controversy over two claimed
catches – the second of which the Australians allowed the umpires to adjudicate
rather than accept the word of the catcher, and which went the Aussies’ way –
has opened a window onto a new sensitivity in the Australian cricket scene.

Suddenly, upon hearing a few sour South
African cricket pundits use the word “cheat”, the Australians have leapt to the
defence of their proven status as doyens of fair play. “The world over has turned us away from
trying to make it become a player’s decision”, simpered Gilchrist. “Players could have taken ownership of it, but the leaders of world
cricket didn’t want to be a part of it.”

The world, complains Gilchrist, just isn’t
as willing to be as sporting and generally nice as the Australians.

The keeper doth protest too much: this,
presumably, is the same Australian team which employs Shane Warne, the
gentleman caught by overactive stump microphones during the last Test referring to South African
beserker Andre Nel as a “f*cking dill” and a “soft c*ck”.

Gentlemen? Gimme a break. It’s been a long
time since the Australian cricket team has been a safe haven for chivalrous
behaviour. You wouldn’t find Ian Chappell concerning himself with accusations
of cheating from foreign media. Steve Waugh took the Allan Border line of
letting the scoreboard talk: Border hardly spoke at all during 1989 and walked
away with the Ashes.

It is for these reasons that mouthy Graeme
Smith has looked so foolish to Australian observers over the last four months.
In his absence, Jaques Kallis has been sensibly resolute in not engaging the
media
with controversies,
and looks twice as professional for it.

Let’s hope the Aussies get over this sudden
attack of the vapours before the Ashes. The thought of Gilchrist and Ponting
pouting at the media while England
does the business makes this sporting gentleman quiver in his creams.

Peter Fray

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