I was unlucky enough to be in the same room as Ian ‘Charity’ Botham in mid-November. ‘Charity’ was there to speak, for a fee I assume, to a gathered group of people who were there to support the fundraising efforts of the wonderful Randwick Petersham Cricket Club. Apart from sticking the boot into one of Australia’s past cricket captains, ‘Charity’ was his usual pugnacious self declaring it was to be a 5-0 whitewash to England. He wasn’t alone as many declared Poodle Clarke’s lot no chance.
Some seven weeks on the Australian press is full of praise for ‘our boys’. We cannot get enough of the redemption of Stinky Ink Johnson, the Woman behind the Warner and the glory days of Box Head Haddin and rightfully so. We don’t like the Pink Poms. We actually don’t think the Barmy Army is actually that amusing anymore and most think despite Charity Botham’s ‘good work’ that he is truly a work of self-exploration.
But while I too was momentarily swept away on the tide of the good times I foundered on a reef of grief when I opened today’s Sydney Morning Chook.
Hadn’t these boys learnt anything from what had happened at Lords last August? The Independent as did many other papers reported on, “Star players such as Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson reportedly queued up to relieve themselves on the strip while team-mates cheered wildly.”
So what do we see on page 2 of the Chook? Well what you see is a photograph of the Australian players and support team on the SCG pitch at midnight pouring beer over each other. You also see one distinguished player mid-ground on his knees with his strides pulled down with his freckle on display. Beneath the Southern Cross he kneels.
Top stuff. This is how we celebrate. Down on our knees with grog running down our crack. Such models these boys. Arhh just letting go after a hard 12 months. Common cut us some slack. But it’s not the only way we celebrate is it?
Firstly we sing the amusing ‘Under the Southern Cross I Stand” on the strip after the last wicket falls so every impressionable kid can clearly hear the last line, courtesy of Channel 9, “Australia, you fucking little beauty”. What poetry. These Renaissance men clearly have the full quiver of arrows. It’s the tradition you wowser. Sure, however inane and silly the song is, that’s their choice – but in the shed dopey.
I wonder if Stink Ink, Box Head or Chunky Cheese Taylor would like it if some clown at the pre-school started to read slightly different nursery rhymes to their little ones? Nursery rhymes like “The Three Fucking Pigs” or “Thomas the Cock Sucking Tank Engine”? How do feel you about that boys? No just having fun chaps, you know, nudge-wink-wink…just a case of boys being boys. Counter the first photo with that of Clarke and coach Boof Lehmann walking arm in arm around the SCG. Boof with his beer and Poodle with his Frog Fizz. A lovely photo of a moment of reflection.
So we can now enter on the plus side of the summer cricket ledger an incredible Australian Test Series triumph against odds. Sadly on the debit side we now have to place in large, the increasingly turgid television burger that is the commercial television coverage of cricket in Australia. The burger is seemingly composed of small slivers of cricket coverage smothered with cheap talking sauce that is sandwiched between excessive amounts of advertising for fat food and bad beer.
From our ledger we can also remove the opportunity of elite players to show some respect for the sporting public and to further show that the celebration of a victory doesn’t mean you have to act like some tatted yokel in a Kings Cross beer barn.