Tag Archives: Cricket

Cricket. I tried, but you’re just not my type.

Congratulations on Australia winning the Cricket World Cup.  Despite not following this sport I am always glad when an Australian team wins a top tournament.

In my previous post I did state that in my opinion the Australian cricket team is not reflective of the current cultural diversity of Australia.  Nevertheless cricket remains is a very important aspect of not only sporting culture but Australian culture as a whole.  It was a sport that defined Australia, especially as a way to differentiate itself from the mother country.  Australia might have been “British to the bootstraps” as Menzies said, but it loved beating the Poms.

I had no concept of the game of cricket before I came to Australia.  It happened that my first Australian summer of 1974- 75  the Ashes were on.  All I remember in the haze of that first summer Christmas, was that every time I turned ABC TV on there seems to be this game on.  I remember my family asking ourselves if these were different matches played over days.  We were aghast when at a work Christmas party we were told that in fact it was one match over five days.

 

It was when we came to Melbourne four years later than I decided to understand this game.  This early Melbourne period constituted my ‘assimilation period’  I had another chance to make this country my own and therefore try to participate in the Australian society.  I liked Australian Rules immediately, so cricket was next.

I would watch an hour or so of test cricket on TV.  I would listen to it on the radio.  A friend of mine drew the positions names on a transparency sheet so I could stuck it on the inside of my windscreen and take a quick peak when they talked about ‘backward point’ or ‘deep square leg’.  Of course I was living where the cathedral of cricket, the MCG, was located.  My late brother in law was a MCG member, a legacy of when his mother put his name down on the waiting list during the 1956 Olympics.  So he and I went to see a couple of day matches (one against India I remember) and I also went to a test match on the day after Boxing Day.

But despite all my efforts the game did not grip me.

It gave me an appreciation of it.  I understood what a tactical game it is.  The fact that the ball and the pitch change their characteristics over time and therefore tactics need to change.  The fact that captains have to change the way they place their players depending on what they see the strengths and weaknesses of a player.  Whether to use fast bowling or spin.  But for me what impressed me most were the batsmen.  I can’t think of any other sport where you are facing an opponent on your own (apart the other batsmen who is opposite, but apart from running can’t really help you when you are facing a bowler) with twelve members of the opposing team around you (and a wicketkeeper just behind, ready to pounce).  In other team sports you have your team mates around you.  In cricket all of them bar one are looking at you from a balcony.  It is truly a test of character.

And of course I can understand why a test game is a ‘test’.  Standing on a field for hours (especially if it is sunny an hot) and maintain concentration for a whole day is an effort that requires Guru qualities.

But somehow the game’s ebbs and flows couldn’t sustain enough interest for me.  So I stopped trying.  Sport is supposed to be fun, not hard work.

Maybe is my Italian background.  When my team, AC Milan, was formed by the Englishman Alfred Ormonde Edwards, he named it as ‘ Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club’.  But once the Italians starting running the club the cricket was quickly forgotten (despite this Italy has a Cricket Federation which is an associate member of the International Cricket Council).

In the words of 10cc I may not ‘love cricket’ but at least I gave it a go.

 

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Soccer or Cricket. What is the most representative team?

For most of the time of the A-League existence, Association Football and Cricket – two sports played in summer – have maintained a sort of distance.

However I do wonder whether cricket did look at the A-League and felt that it did suck some of the summer attention away from it. Apart from the Ashes the traditional test apparently wasn’t being as popular as previous years. The one day game also (from what I was reading at least) was losing some audience. That is why they created the Big Bash League. A form of the game that despite being despised by the traditionalists has proven to be very popular, especially amongst the young.

I am not sure whether the Big Bash League was partly created to counteract any potential inroad of the A League on its traditional summer patch. Maybe it was, if the tweets of Malcolm Conn, the communication manager of Cricket Australia, are anything to go by. Malcolm went on a campaign of highlighting how the BBL was thrashing association football in the ratings at every opportunity. This included comparing the Socceroo games, which I thought thoroughly reprehensible. Its understandable advocating the success of a domestic competition against another, but negatively comment on the national team, the national team that represent Australia is ..well… un-Australian.

On the other hand I think that Gallop was responsible for this sort of code war. I cringed right at the start of his mandate as CEO of the FFA when he mentioned the hoary chestnut of association football being ‘the sleeping giant’. Then at the start of this season saying that ‘“other competitions have gone to sleep.” could not fail to raise the hackles of cricket.

As I said before, this sort of stuff is unnecessary and it betrays a sense of inferiority.

However, the latest statement of Gallop is right on the money.

Cricket was outraged. Malcolm did not fail to disappoint.

 

Then Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland came out stating that the cricket national team was still the country’s most popular team — “followed by daylight”.

I think that both Mr. Conn and Mr. Sutherland didn’t undertand what Gallop said. As George Donikian so succincly put it.

The discussion also ensued on Offsiders yesterday, and again the essential question was not discussed. Chloe Saltau from The Age again cited how more popular the BBL was to the A-League missing the point completely, as I tweeted while the program was on.

 

Perhaps I was being less diplomatic than Mr. Donikian, but my observation of cricket over the years is that it is a bit like Ramsay St.

Let’s look at the team that is currently playing for the Cricket World Cup.

Michael Clarke
George Bailey
Pat Cummins
Xavier Doherty
James Faulkner
Aaron Finch
Brad Haddin
Josh Hazlewood
Mitchell Johnson
Mitchell Marsh
Glenn Maxwell
Steven Smith
Mitchell Starc
David Warner
Shane Watson

The only player I could find from ‘non English speaking background’ was Mitchell Starc whose father’s parents are from what is now the Czech Republic. But apart from that I see a solid anglo-celtic background team.

Compare this with the Socceroos. The site codehesive showed how many connections teams in the last world cup had with overseas heritage. Australia was second in all 32 teams

 

These were the players with an international connection:

Ivan Franjic Grandparent from Croatia
Jason Davidson Grandparent from Japan and grandparent from Greece
Tim Cahill Parent from Samoa and parent from England
Matthew Špiranovic Grandparent(s) from Croatia
Oliver Bozanic Parent from Croatia
James Troisi Parent from Italy and parent from Greece
Mile Jedinak (c) Grandparent(s) from Croatia
Eugene Galekovic Grandparent(s) from Croatia
Dario Vidošic Born in Croatia
Massimo Luongo Parent from Indonesia and parent from Italy
Mark Bresciano Parent from Croatia and parent from Italy

Then if we look at the players that were selected since then such as Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse and Terry Antonis, and we can see how the Socceroos are much more representative of a real multicultural Australia.

Of course Sutherland is right when he states that the cricket team may include Pakistani-born Usman Khawaja and Fawad Ahmed, indigenous former Australia all-rounder Dan Christian, Portuguese-born Moises Henriques and Gurinder Sandhu, who is of Indian heritage. However it seems that cricket has discovered NESB Australians very recently. The Australian National Association team had them for yonks, and yes when many referred to the code as ‘wogball’.

We can say that the Australian cricket team is the most popular. But when it comes to be the most representative the Socceroos have – to use a cricketing analogy – runs on the board.

 

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Cricket and football. The tale of two English games in Australia.

Why isn’t Soccer treated the same as Cricket?

Those who have read this blog before would know that I don’t like cricket. However I can understand those who do and I can see that it is part of Australia’s tradition.

Australia’s under performance in the Melbourne test could not be avoided even for a non-cricket person like myself, heading news bulletins on the ABC and on SBS. It did however make me think again about how Australia treats the sport of Cricket and Association Football in different ways. The comparison is interesting because with Association Football (and Rugby Union) Cricket is the most ‘traditional’ sport where Australians can identify with a national team.

When Australia was taken apart from Germany 4-0 there were comments about how this could spell the ‘end of soccer in Australia’, endanger the A-League etc. The usual commentators from other codes reveled in the result which somewhat proved that ‘soccer’ really wasn’t a sport we should put much effort on, as we were not that good at it.

So when I watched the news the other day and I saw that the whole Australian team was dismissed in a few hours with a score below 100 I couldn’t help thinking of a comparison. Would some be Australian sport commentators being somewhat pleased about the result? Would we have articles heralding the end of cricket as a sport in Australia? Would we had words written that we should forget about the sport because we were not good at it? Well no. What we had was a common gnashing of teeth with no Australian (as far as I know) chortling about the result. What we had was talkback radio callers and articles about what to do next and how to resurrect Australian cricket.

What I sense when I watch the Australian National football team is that them, and the Australian Association Football fraternity is not only facing the adversaries on the pitch, but also an array of sport fans and commentators which doesn’t want Association Football to become an integral part of the Australian sporting culture. Australian fans know that an humiliating loss would not be just depressing in itself, but it is more so because it will give fuel to the soccerphobes to get out if the woodwork and trot out their usual whoary arguments. Could you see that with cricket? Not on your nelly. The fact that Association Football seems to be the only sport to get this treatment makes us feel like outsiders and marginalised. I can only hope for a day when the Australian football team get thrashed and we will get the same reactions from <u>all</a> Australians as we are seeing at the moment about the cricket.

Cricket Australia should employ the Melbourne Victory South End fans

There is actually something where soccer culture can actually contribute to cricket, or at least when Australia plays England. There was an article in today’s Age about the fact that English cricket fans were singing and taunting the Australian cricket team with their chants. Of course that is because the English fans probably have done that in football matches for yonks. As the article says one chant is with the tune of <i>Guantanamera</i> to Pointing “Sacked in the morning, you’re getting sacked in the morning….etc.” which is a tune used a lot in football as well. When there are not many fans the chant directed to the opposition is “came in a taxi, you came all in a taxi etc.” The article says that on the first day of the test the Barmy Army distributed songbooks to anyone who was interested, including a police sergeant who states: “We need to work on our chants” We got nothing”, except the unimaginative ‘Aussie aussie aussie oi oi oi’ which when chanted the Barmy Army chants back ‘You’ve only got one song’.

Well, the cricket people should get in touch with active Melbourne Victory fans, which have been chanting at matches ever since the A-League started. Probably even better with the fans in the ‘Southern end’ which is traditionally the more ‘Anglo–Celtic’ type of support that is no choreography or flags, but banners, chanting and plenty of beer. But also a tradition of giving it to the opposition fans. One well used tune is “Cwm Rhondda” (also known as “Guide me, O thou great redeemer”) It is used to chant ‘Can we play you every week??” (sung at opposition teams, usually a team currently performing poorly) and “You’re not singing, you’re not singing. you’re not singing anymore’ directed at opposition fans when their team was ahead but now on level terms. Some chants are pretty unsavory, so I am not sure that the singing sergeant would approve, but I am sure that given the chance plenty would have a go.

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