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On the nose Down Under: Cheating exposes rotten cricket culture by Lawrence Heyn


On the nose Down Under: Cheating exposes rotten cricket culture by Lawrence Heyn

Posted on 02 April 2018 by admin

On the nose Down Under: Cheating exposes rotten cricket culture

By Lawrence Heyn (Former Peterite cricketer now domiciled in Australia)

The moral high ground Australian sport had chosen to occupy caved in last Saturday, and the country’s reputation plunged into a dark, deep pit of national shame.

All that is left to be done now is for the undertaker – dare I say it, Cricket Australia head James Sutherland – to shovel the dirt in and plant the epitaph: “Here lies Australian Cricket, betrayed by its captain and ‘leadership group’ in South Africa.”

Never again can Australia take back the high ground against cheating because its cricket team has exposed itself as hypocrites of the highest order. The country had installed itself as judge and jury against cheats from other countries, but now that the cricketers have been found wanting national outrage has been deafening. Outrage that Australia’s self-proclaimed pure, righteous image has been blackened.

This sorry episode also is a wake-up call to all cricket-playing countries to clean up their game. Fast.

Captain Steve Smith, banned by the ICC for one match, has been banished by Cricket Australia for a year while the detestable David Warner received an equally long sentence. The feeling among past cricketers, media and most fans is that they will be happy if Warner never plays cricket again.

Lawrence Heyn

As for Cameron Bancroft, his rather clownish attempt at cheating earned him a nine-month ban, and he will have to travel a long road of rehabilitation before cricket fans will forgive and forget so he could wear the baggy green again. He will have to explain his lie about using sticky tape to scuff up the ball in the third South Africa-Australia Test in Newlands, when in fact he had used sandpaper.

The ill-conceived plans to cheat, hatched by Warner, have cost the captain and vice-captain dearly. Smith and Warner have been kicked out of the Indian Premier League, and the repercussions have been huge – each player reportedly set to lose about AUD $4 million in payments and sponsorship deals. Cricket Australia has already lost one of its major sponsors and $20 million. More huge losses are expected as sponsors review their association with CA.

Cricket Australia has meted out stiff punishment to three cheats, although James Sutherland refused to utter the word “cheat” at his train-wreck of an interview in Johannesburg on Tuesday. This was only the start of a bigger story that is ever-changing. There was fury and disbelief that Coach Darren Lehmann had escaped sanction because just like the famed Sergeant Schultz he “knew nothing”.

There is a saying that fish rots from the head, and certainly Lehmann played a stinking role in developing a team that was arrogant, bullying and so out of touch with reality and decency. And, Sutherland has played his part in this. The CA boss has given tacit approval for sledging, “as long as it does not go too far”. Sutherland is now scrambling to save his job, but the weight of public opinion might soon tip the scales against him.

Lehmann, after saying he would stay on in the job and pledging to change so he could fix Australia’s cricket culture, has decided to resign at the end of the South Africa-Australia Fourth Test match.

Cricket Australia has been slow to get it, as the public outrage has not been directed at just the cheats but also at an organisation that enabled the creation of a win-at-all-costs system that was repugnant to cricket followers around the world. Sutherland and Lehmann have been key architects of a rotting culture. CA needs a man of integrity, such as John Buchanan, at the top to win back support.

When the much-loved Test player Philip Hughes died in 2016 after being hit on the head by a cricket ball, the Australian team as one, including Warner, vowed to be better people as a tribute to him. Yet, it has been short lived. In two years we have seen the rise and rise of the Ugly Australian and this week’s flashpoint has brought Australian cricket crashing down to reality. Bullying and sheer aggression against opposing players have been Australia’s modus operandi for too long. For Cricket Australia, this was acceptable as long the team produced results, such as winning the World Cup and Ashes series.

Former Test player and respected cricket writer Ashley Mallett launched a scathing attack on the Australian team in a column this week.

Mallett wrote: “Today’s players should be mindful of their responsibility to leave the game in a better state than they found it. It is a time-honoured, yet unwritten law.

“Back in the latter stages of the 19th Century Lord Hawke, a colossus in world cricket, who played for Cambridge University, Yorkshire, and England, then a leading administrator for 40 years, was the stalwart of all things good in this magnificent game, wrote: ‘Cricket is a moral lesson in itself, and the classroom is God’s air and sunshine. Foster it, my brothers; protect it from anything that will sully it, so that it will be in favour with all men’.”

Mallett continued: “Hawke’s beautiful words tell us all that is wonderful about cricket: that is cricket when it is played hard, but fair and in the spirit of the game. What have we witnessed of late? All that is grubby and deceitful about a group of would-be cricketing thugs who intimidate their opponents like schoolyard bullies. It worked perfectly for them against the inept, weak England team during the Ashes summer, but this time they were up against a tough South African unit who refused to cower from the bully that is the Australian cricket team.”

Australia’s bullying of visiting teams became more brazen, often aided by a parochial media. In fact, in 2013, one newspaper displayed such jingoism that it chose to bully Stuart Broad just because it had the power to do so. It was so distasteful that journalists with any sense of fairness and balance were repelled by the paper’s tactics and prayed they would never see the like again. Lehmann, true to form, also called on the fans to abuse Broad so “he cries and goes home”.

A veteran foreign journalist told me that when he came to Sydney a decade ago for a Commonwealth press gathering one of the topics discussed was how Aussie sports desks actively backed their national teams. “There was no issue of partisanship – it was considered their duty to do so. I remember saying that was probably why the Aussies were so unpopular around the world and the term ABBA came into being; not the Swedish pop group but to mean Any Body But Australia,” he said.

Sledging – a typical Aussie trait

Sledging, a typical Australian trait was getting meaner and angrier and this cancer has spread fast through cricket’s grassroots. No one seemed to have the will to stop it because the role models at the top endorsed it and showed the impressionable juniors how it was done. One cricket lover, who regularly umpired weekend under-13 game told me how distraught he was by what he saw. He tried to counsel the players, but they just laughed at him and claimed that they were doing it because their idols in the Test team were doing it too.

The ongoing tour of South Africa brought out the worst in the Australians. The screaming and bullying on and off the field was at their zenith, with Warner the chief miscreant. His unrelenting sledging of Quinton de Kock, his manic behaviour aimed at opening batsman Aiden Markram after A B De Villiers was run out, and his stairwell aggression showed how bad the problem had become. The others too fell in step with Warner – Nathan Lyons was sanctioned for dishonouring de Villiers, Smith could be seen constantly mouthing off from slip, while Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Marsh, Josh Hazlewood, and Pat Cummins often looked mean and ill-tempered after each ball was bowled.

This was upsetting to the true cricket fans, and the media was slowly starting to wake up and realise that Australian cricket had a putrid smell about it.

Sporting image undone

Australia’s sporting image was finally undone by something deep-rooted and sinister – Warner was a conniving cheat, aided and abetted by Smith and Bancroft. Warner was the team’s designated “ball manager”. What a joke! We all know now that ball manager was code for “chief cheat”. It was curious that Warner always had a heavily strapped left hand. When suspicions grew that the strapping served a more devious purpose, Warner divested himself of this role and recruited a patsy in the shape of the bumbling rookie Bancroft.

Then Karma came knocking and Australia, from the Prime Minister to cricket fans, is reeling under the weight of this national shame. But what will hurt more is that the country can no longer adopt a pious and holier-than-thou attitude it so revelled in, politics and sport.

The game will never be the same. It is a wake-up call to cricket administrators around the world to take back control from rat-bag players. In Sri Lanka, during the Nidahas Trophy tournament, ugly scenes ensued between Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi players. This must not be allowed to happen again. All players should be set clear expectations that bad behaviour will not be tolerated.

The ICC’s demerit points system is a joke. Players will continue to transgress because they know they have wriggle room. Stern measures must be taken, even to the extent of invoking a behaviour clause in players’ contracts. It should be zero tolerance – one strike and you are out. Never has there been a stronger argument for the introduction of the red card, with the umpires given greater autonomy.

Ball tampering cheats are infesting the game round the world. You only have to search “ball tampering” online to see the many devious methods used to change the condition of the ball – from Shahid Afridi biting the seam to Faf Du Plessis’ Lollygate. Then, there was the brazen cheat, Victorian bowling coach Mick Lewis, who kicked the ball into the gutter and then scraped it on the concrete in the 2016 Victoria-South Australia Shield final. Victoria was bowling at the time. Lewis pleaded guilty and was fined more than $2000, but he remained in the game.

Not the first time

It emerged on Friday that Sheffield Shield match referee Daryl Harper had complained about ball tampering by Warner and Smith in an email to umpires head Simon Taufel two years ago. “When David Warner repeatedly bounced his returns in to (NSW wicketkeeper) Peter Nevill on the first day, the umpires appealed to Smith to support their calls for fair play. They weren’t encouraged by his response. I assisted the umpires on the second morning by suggesting to Trent Johnston (coach) that CA didn’t need an issue with the national captain being involved in a ball-tampering incident,” Harper had written.

If the ICC is serious about ball tampering it must reintroduce a long-abandoned rule where only the bowler can shine the ball. The umpires should be handed the ball between overs to cut any illegal activity.

So far, behaviour is measured by such vague terms as “do not cross the line” and “spirit of the game”, and most teams have now corrupted them to the very extreme. The ICC must harness the wisdom of the true gentlemen of the game, I am sure there are a few around – Mahela Jayawardene and Brendon McCallum to name two – to set up a code of conduct that is realistic and enforceable.

Men behaving badly on the cricket field is a universal problem. The constant chirping by wicket-keepers and chatter by close-in fielders to unsettle the batsman have no place in the game. It is disgusting. The cricket field must be treated as a work place; the players are paid obscene sums of money as professionals and they must act as such. Aggression, bullying and vilification must not be tolerated.

As I said, it starts at the top. Cricket boards must be held responsible and sanctioned for the sins of their players.

Last weekend, I was browsing through my considerable collection of Australian cricket books – from Trumper to Chappell – to gain an understanding of how the game has changed. I came across a picture of Frank Worrell handing over the trophy to Richie Benaud after the famous Australia-West Indies tied test of 1960. The pair’s smiles lit up the picture and there was such genuineness and rapport between them. They were truly in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

We must restore cricket to that state of enjoyment. Otherwise, I might as well toss my books to fuel a funeral pyre for a game strangled by its noxious participants. At this stage, I won’t mourn its loss.

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Cricket hits of the ’60s By Lawrence Heyn (Old Peterite living in Australia)

Posted on 01 January 2014 by admin

SPC-LOGO SITESt. Peter’s College has a proud sporting heritage, with cricket and rugby holding sway in the near nine decades of its existence. The college can parade an impressive line-up of old Peterites who have gone on to cover themselves in glory at national and international level.

Cricket, by virtue of its annual big match, has been the biggest drawcard and some memorable performances have gone into the pages of our history. So, which decade has produced the best cricket teams? I believe the best have been the 1950s and ‘60s, with the latter gaining a slight edge because of the surge in the game’s popularity in the country.

My first introduction to cricket at St Peter’s was as a nine-year-old in 1961, when I watched Adiel Anghie fluently stroke his way to a century in the big match against St Joseph’s at Bambalapitiya. Anghie was all elegance and his 101 was spiced with some wonderful cover drives.

My interest peaked when my two cousins Richard and David skippered teams in the early ‘60s and there were some big hitters in the teams. I remember Richard playing a straight lofted drive for six, with the ball being fished out of the canal by our groundsman.

Cricket, to me, took on a magical quality in 1965. It was the last time the big match was played at Bambalapitiya and skipper Travis Fernando signed off in style. The left-armer mesmerised the Joes with his spin and then opener Darrel Wimalaratne led a dashing chase of a victory target of 94 runs in 50 minutes. The first ball Wimalaratne faced was hooked for six, with the ball landing in the pavilion’s upper level among the feet of the dignitaries.

As I moved into the First XI late in the decade, I was privileged to see the development of the most technically proficient batsman Sri Lanka has produced. Roy Dias was a master of timing and his fluency on the offside was a treat to watch. Dias went on to be a part of the national team that set the platform for the great things that followed. One of the most endearing sights for me are the three consecutive fours he struck off Ian Botham – all perfectly timed cover drives – to reach his half century in the inaugural Test against England in 1982. Dias’s innings of 77 can be viewed on YouTube. After seeing so much of the cricket in the ‘60s, I found it an interesting exercise to pick the team of the decade. It is also interesting to note that a high proportion of ‘60s players would be included in an all-time great Peterite side.

Two players from the ‘50s who would walk into the side are Clive Inman, who hit an unbeaten 204 in 1954, and H I K Fernando, who in later years was widely regarded as the best wicket-keeper in Asia. Then adding venom to the team is that magnificent left-arm paceman Dion Walles who captured 21 Josephian wickets in 1946-47. Clive Inman, by weight of his huge cricketing exploits (he once held the world record of 32 runs in an over, subsequently broken by Sir Garfield Sobers) gets the nod as captain.

Cricketers from later years making it into the side are Rohan Buultjens and national caps Russell Arnold and Rumesh Ratnayake. As a journalist, I covered the Joe-Pete encounter in 1979 and watched in awe as Buultjens tore into the Joes to register twin unbeaten centuries.

PETERITE TEAM OF THE ‘60s Adiel Anghie (wicket-keeper), Darrel Wimalaratne, Roy Dias, David Heyn, Peter De Niese, Tyrone Le Mercier, Rodney Paternott, Travis Fernando (Captain), Tony Opatha, Maurice Deckker, Anton Perera. 12th man: Rory Inman. Reserves: Hamish Paternott, Denham Juriansz and Stephen de Niese.

ALL-TIME GREAT TEAM Adiel Anghie, Russell Arnold, Roy Dias, Clive Inman (Captain), David Heyn, Rohan Buultjens, H.I.K. Fernando (wicket-keeper), Tony Opatha, Rumesh Ratnayake, Travis Fernando and Dion Walles. 12th Man: Rory Inman. Reserves: Rodney Paternott, Tyrone Le Mercier and Peter De Niese.

Join the discussion: Who would you nominate in your Peterite all-time great team? Send us your teams of the 1950s, ’70s, 80s, ’90s, or 2000s. Write to us at contact@peteritereunion.net. Posted on November 16th, 2013

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