1. Coached to cheat!
No I’m not talking about cricket, I’m talking about rugby league, highlighted by a match between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla Sharks where 33 penalties were blown, and Cameron Smith, captain of the Storm, Queensland and Australia was binned for 10 minutes for dissent. I didn’t see it, but I understand Smith made very clear that he did not think he should go.
The fact is that teams had been coached to cheat for years. The NRL had reached the point where they either had to enforce the rules or change them. Players were not standing up before they played the ball, then simply rolling it between their legs. The defending players, back the mandatory 10 metres, were taking off before the ball had cleared the ruck.
If everyone played by the rules, the game would look cleaner, tidier, and would be more open. However, players had been coached to ignore the referees, who typically gave a couple of penalties, then put the whistle in their pocket. The public called for consistency. Now they are getting it, some don’t like it. However, if the referees give in now, then we may as well give up on the rules.
I’m hoping the NRL will listen Wayne Bennett rather than Andrew Johns, who was a great player, but…
Bennett wants his players to play by the rules. Seems like a good idea!
2. The problem with cricket
Like most people, I’ve had a surfeit of cricket and ball tampering. AFR cartoonist extraordinaire David Rowe, had this one of grubs wearing Australian caps emerging from an Australian cricket ball:
He was only warming up. He also had a go at Putin:
Then the link to Trump and Stormy Daniels:
This one left me speechless:
Americans are talking about whether Melania should dump Trump. As usual, she’s saying nothing and Trump’s approval ratings have improved 7 points to 42. Go figure, as they say over there.
Back to cricket.
The Laws of Cricket include:
41.3.2 It is an offence for any player to take any action which changes the condition of the ball.
- A fielder may, however
18.104.22.168 polish the ball on his/her clothing provided that no artificial substance is used and that such polishing wastes no time.
Spit is not deemed an artificial substance, but spit while sucking a lolly is.
Cameron Bancroft committed the crime, which was hatched by David Warner and approved by captain Steve Smith.
My understanding is that David Warner was the designated ‘ball manager’ and while he was fielding in front of the wicket Australia was getting ‘reverse swing’ about 20 overs earlier than any other team could manage. The South Africans had tipped off the TV folk to watch what he was doing with something wrapped around his wrist.
However, the Aussies missed some slip catches, so Warner went to field there. Then the plot was hatched to use sandpaper they have for maintaining their bats.
As the SMH points out ball tampering is not new. Mike Atherton did it as captain with dirt in his pocket. When Sachin Tendulkar did it, the Indians wanted to sack match referee Mike Denness. South African captain Faf du Plessis did it in 2013, was penalised half his match fee, and again in 2016, got penalised his whole match fee, but lost no game time as he went on his merry way. Vernon Philander, currently playing, also did it.
In the first innings of that very match the South Africans produced reverse swing from nowhere. The Australians suspected wicket keeper Quintin de Kok was working the ball with his gloves. If that’s true then the South Africans’ answer was to dob in the other mob and work out a better way of cheating they could use while everyone was looking elsewhere.
That’s why Steve Smith thought it was only a minor bump in the road. How wrong he was.
The ICC thinks the action taken by Cricket Australia was disproportionate. They thought the match fee and standing down for one match was the go. This time there was a pack of pompous, opinionated Australian journalists screaming for immediate assassination, and we the public were not too impressed either. Truth is, the Australian team was on the nose in the way they conducted themselves generally.
Faf thinks Steve Smith was one of the good guys, and extended his sympathy and support. He thinks the penalties were too harsh. So does Shane Warne, who was banged up for a year for taking diuretics recommended by his mum, not to enhance his playing performance, rather to enhance his looks. My wife says it didn’t even work in that regard until Liz Hurley knocked him into shape. Warne termed the CA reaction as “hysteria”.
The best commentary I heard was from Greg Rowell who works with the QCA to support junior cricket. He said that for years, mums and kids had to be convinced it was good and wholesome to play cricket in spite of the Australian team, not because of it. The team was majorly on the nose. He said how you play is more important than winning (former coach John Buchannan said winning was the bottom line, how you play comes second) and that you can be aggressive with respect and gracefully. Like Roger Federer, netball teams such as the Queensland Firebirds, and indeed the Australian women’s team, who have just won the T20 tri-series with India and England, posting a world record 4-209 in the final. Rowell said the further you went up to the elite level, the worse it got.
Warner has now cried, as has Darren Lehmann. Warner has said that the incident raised the question of who he was as a man, and that he would seek help and advice to make serious changes. I was impressed with that, but journalists ignored it.
Now all we need is a new coach like Justin Langer or ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie to change the cricket team’s culture. Intrinsically decent people, who support players and have a successful coaching record. Plus sack the bozos at CA for their reactive management and bullying pressure on the team to perform or else. I understand that after the Australians were beaten by South Africa in Tasmania in 2016, ‘high performance manager’ Pat Howard (what does this man actually do?) and one other flew down, yelled at the players, told them their performance was simply unacceptable. Then five were sacked from the team.
The latest is that Smith did not approve the ball-tampering plan, he said he didn’t like it, but failed to stop it without knowing the details of the plan.
The ICC should ban using spit (moisture weights the ball on one side, the more so when sugar is dissolved) and arrange for a camera to follow the ball from keeper back to the bowler, with a TV ump detailed to watch what happens. Shane Warne said:
- Lastly, world cricket needs to take this opportunity to set new standards for on-field play and Australia need to lead the way and gain respect from everyone and give all the young boys and girls a reason to want to play cricket and be proud of our national team.
Mark “Tubby” Taylor reckons cricket needs a red card system to put umpires back in charge of the game. Send them off like soccer does even if their name is Rinaldo.
Onya Tubby. And Melbourne scientists have come up with a cheat-proof ball:
Makes you proud to be an Australian.
3. Cheats never prosper
That’s Peta Credlin’s lead from cricket to what she thinks of Malcolm Turnbull. She reckons he schemed, plotted and backstabbed that great man, duly elected by the Australian people, Tony Abbott.
Be that as it may, Turnbull’s Newspoll numbers continue to be problematic.
TPP it’s still Labor at 53-47. However, Labor’s primary vote is up one, which means it has gone from -7 to +2 against the LNP since the last election.
On who is doing a good job, Shorten is now on 34 to Turnbull’s 32. On preferred PM this year Shorten has closed the gap from 45-31 to 39-36. That’s from the beginning of February to late March.
I think Turnbull perverts the truth just about every time he opens his mouth. It started seriously when in February 2016 he said Labor’s negative gearing plans would “smash” the housing market. He knew that wasn’t true.
Now he’s telling us our company tax is uncompetitive. Here’s the comparative tax rate:
I understand we give our companies more concessions than they get in other countries, making the effective tax rate around 21%.
And the side deals Matthias Cormann has authorised are an offence to democracy. Anything it takes.
I’ll finish with David Rowe’s Easter message: