#cricketaustralia

Marc Marquez memes have mutated

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The memes have already started for the dodgem car race style of Marc Marquez. The fallout from this is likely to be huge. He is without doubt the greatest talent on track. To be able to do a ride through penalty after only 6 laps of a short track and still come out of pit lane ahead of a 5x world champ Jorge Lorenzo who is riding the most powerful bike on the grid speaks volumes about his skill. Yet he punted the 21 year veteran of the game who has more fans, history and records than most of the grid combined. Marquez will soon feel like the the barber in The Untouchables who cut Al Capone while shaving him. Deliberately cutting up Capone in front of the mob isn’t something they’ll forgive easily. The booing in Argentina was severe. Marquez is a 6x world champion but the question is can he act as one when it matters? He may have been forgiven in 2015 but not after yesterday.

Marquez said the move on Aleix Espargaro earlier on was far harsher than that on Rossi, just that the latter crashed in a racing incident (in his view “nothing crazy”) that copped the biggest penalty. Marquez tried to cover his mistake saying, “Honestly speaking I don’t care, I’m just focussed on my box and I know what happened. Of course today I did a few mistakes – a few of those mistakes were from Race Direction and a few were mine. And I recognise and will try to improve for the future.”

Yamaha Movistar Team boss Lin Jarvis said,

“I think it’s pretty obvious from anyone watching the TV images that it’s a move that is totally unacceptable…So it was the number X of many moves that were unacceptable throughout the weekend. We had issues in free practice when he very nearly missed Maverick one time…There have been several incidents against other riders – not our riders – but other riders throughout the weekend. In the race there was a big one with Aleix. There was another one with Nakagami and then with others. Finally he ran Valentino off the track. That’s just not acceptable – period.”

Rossi also sounded off after the collision,

“I’m okay but this is a very bad situation because he destroyed our sport, because he doesn’t have any respect for his rivals, never…If you take for example what’s happened this weekend, one by one these things can happen to everybody. You can make a mistake in braking. You can touch the other guy. Happens. This is racing…

…But from Friday morning he make like this with Vinales, Dovizioso. He made like this with me on Saturday morning. And today in the race he go straight into four riders…He does it purposely – and it’s not a mistake – because he points the leg, between the leg and the bike, because he knows that he don’t crash, but you crash. He hopes that you crash.

“So, if you start to play like this, it’s like you raise the level to a very dangerous point… Because if all the riders race like this, without any respect for the rivals, this is a very dangerous sport and it can finish in a bad way

 [His apology is] a joke. First of all he don’t have the balls to come in my office alone, but he come like always with his manager, with Honda, in front of all the cameras because what is important for him is this. He don’t care about you…So I don’t want to speak with him. I don’t want to see him close to me because I know it’s not true what he say to me…I hope that he is clever enough to don’t come…

MotoGP is worried that it is without a star to replace Rossi when he retires in several years. So much of the sport’s growth has been down to him. Marquez was supposed to be the coming rider to fill his boots. In skill he has it in spades, his ability to smile for cameras is a strong suit but these incidents against the man he was supposed to replace will create headaches for race organizer, Dorna Sports. He is now a villain and rebuilding that image looks like a lost cause. All smells a bit like the Aussie Cricket team antics in South Africa.

Wider World created by Warner

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To be honest my elder brother sounded more sincere when he apologized in front of my parents after smashing my orthodontic brace-filled mouth 35 years ago. Dave Warner’s media appearance showed next to no contrition. Sure there were tears. References to the stress on his family and how he’d be lost without them. Indeed, had he considered his family before deciding to cheat then he’d never have to run a rearguard action to protect them. That doesn’t condone the actions of social media thuggery on family members but there was absolutely no surprise in the fast pace bouncers peppered at him from the press gallery, all of which he dodged with the same insincerity for someone whom apparently “only ever wanted to bring glory to my country!” Strange way of showing it.

At least in Steve Smith’s case he projected absolute authenticity in his admission of failure. Bancroft was just a startled bunny in the headlights. Warner seemed to be begging for forgiveness in that at some point might allow resumption to expand his property empire in Maroubra than pleading to restore the lost glory back into the ‘game.’

Warner typifies the ‘win at all costs’ mentality cultivated from the top of Cricket Australia. It isn’t just his two teammates that have worn this failure of leadership. Magellan has already pulled $20m in sponsorship, countless others will follow and the upper hand in negotiations over broadcast rights has all but vanished. That means that Cricket Australia will have $100s of millions less in the kitty to pay players, develop kids at tender ages to sustain the game in the future and draw crowds. Less for facilities, less for promotion, less for match bonuses. Less, less, less. Cricket Australia needs a total overhaul too.

Cricket to Aussies is like Rugby Union to Kiwis. It is on another level to other sports. Our hall of fame includes the likes of Bradman, Spofforth, Trumper, Woodful, McCabe, Morris, Simpson, Border, Waugh, Ponting, Taylor, McGrath, Warne…the list goes on. Were Buck Shelford, Sean Fitzpatrick, Jonah Lomu or Richie McCaw found guilty of bringing the All Blacks side into disrepute through blatant tampering they’d be publicly hung, drawn and quartered with their heads tossed into the mud pools of Rotarua. The New Zealand media would not be calling on people to give any cheater a ‘fair go.’ That is the irony. Most of these elite sportsmen have had way more than a fair go but it wasn’t enough. Otherwise there was no reason to cheat.

Some in the Aussie media now cry out for leniency. They made a mistake, apologized…all lessons learnt. Then again it isn’t any surprise that the media is also short on ethics much of the time. Go back to bed like it was just a bad dream. Talk about being ‘role models’ for kids?!? Most Aussie fans won’t view it that way. Talks of two years in the penalty box and then Steve Smith can resume the captaincy shows how shallow the thinking is. While he may have shown himself to be a sincere individual he most certainly proved he has no place leading the team ever again. He should refuse to take it on if he ever plays again.

One has to question whether the bowlers knew something was up. It is not a question of being complicit in the crime rather a fast bowler spends 6 minutes every over staring at the ball in his walk back to his mark, polishing one side on his trousers, checking the condition of the rough side to consider what type of delivery to bowl. Every. Single. Ball. A bowler usually has 5 to 6 overs a spell so at least half an hour to study the curious round object in his hands. Bat strikes leave particular types of marks as does the pitch and fence. So a sandpaper mark should look rather ‘manufactured.’ Certainly surprising that this would go unnoticed.

In any event, this is not the last we’ve heard form this fall out. Warner should never be able to play for Australia again. He neither represents the country, takes pride in the honour of donning a ‘baggy green’ and most certainly has a very weird way of bringing glory to his country. The only one that matters for Warner is himself.

The sincerity of Steve Smith

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Two things were evident in his Sydney press conference. Three if you include the sick stunt pulled off by KIIS FM to mock Smith’s cheating as a distant second to a couple from Married at First Sight (MAFS). First, Steve Smith sounded sincere in his apology and his eyes looked like a man in utter distress. Second, we saw a man who was clearly intimidated by his deputy and let that get the better of him. Smith knows this will haunt him forever, as it should. At least he took ‘full’ responsibility.

Still for all of the millions these sports stars are paid, he buried his judgement and did something so monumentally stupid. How much Warner, the team ruffian, pushed him into accepting they would cheat is beside the point. The captain should have exercised his position there and then. Smith knows it was a catastrophic moment of weakness. Therefore why there is speculation he might have a shot at the position to be captain again in a couple of years is kind of pointless. He has shown he is well out of his depth in leading that team. It is a folly often made by groups to appoint the best performer as the leader.

With the bat, Smith has reached the top through sheer talent. No tampering has affected his ability to amass an average that is close to approaching the late, great Sir Don Bradman. That was his ability. Being at the top should have meant that he never needed to cheat. Still, greed acts in ways that makes people do foolish things. To think his golden goose has now been well and truly crisped. It is one thing to be sorry, it is another to willfully dupe others for considerable personal financial gain with the hope one isn’t caught red-handed.

It is fraud in any other language. In the finance industry one can go to jail for market manipulation. Should sports stars get more leniency than bankers? After all had ball tampering allowed the players to extract bigger match fees and bonuses over years isn’t that the same as rigging interest rates or insider trading?

After listening to Bancroft’s press conference, it was surprising no questions touched on the sugar in the pocket during the Ashes series. He claimed Newlands was it. Should it be found that the cheating has been going on for longer, then the bans set out for the perpetrators is way too short. The problem with lying is that the truth is easier to remember.

The Jester’s Court hands down a verdict on the cheats

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It is a good job that Cricket Australia (CA) doesn’t conduct murder forensics. It would be fascinating to know how the investigations over ball tampering were conducted. The case would appear open and shut. Only three people knew according to CA. Job done. Inside 3 days. All facts have been collected and harsher punishments will be dealt later on. Does this seem like a thorough investigation for the biggest scandal in Australian cricket? Not for a minute.

Was each team member, coaching staff and support crew separately asked and interrogated several times, not only  in front of a panel, but each individual investigator in order to make sure the stories corroborated with post the briefings over several days and weeks? Were follow up meetings conducted in consecutive days to make sure the stories didn’t change? Was evidence of team WhatsApp chats voluntarily offered to exonerate players? By the sounds of it, this looks like a severe containment exercise within a private club. Seemingly no independent investigation and an expedited trial to limit damage.

The tweet from Cricket Australia telling us that the CEO reports Steve Smith is distraught speaks volumes. Apart from being the least valuable information possible, it almost wants fans to feel sympathy for his remorse. It is a joke. A man earning millions a year bet his career on allowing his team to cheat. Whether Warner pressured him and he was too weak to stop him is no excuse. Anyone with half a brain would know better. Still it shows the true light of the investigation – Steve is upset…don’t go too hard on him because he is a nice guy, no really….

The recent reports that staff within the CA can’t stand ring leader David Warner for his “bullsh1t” paint a picture of ridiculously poor ethics throughout the organisation’s senior  management. If Warner has gone rogue, then it is worth investigating every claim he makes no matter how far fetched to get to the truth. Sadly it seems that the investigation wanted to sandpaper a scripted outcome to ensure the reverse swing on the trial whizzes straight by the fans so things can get back to normal ASAP. The jig is up. Cricket Australia will likely find sponsorship from the local butchers going forward because it will be hard for mainstream corporates to back such a sham. The future of cricket is far bleaker than we think.

Australian Cricket Family?

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Just how stupid does the CEO James Sutherland take fans for? Indeed if there are any left. If this is crisis management, Cricket Australia will fold under the weight of its own incompetence. What has the ‘head of integrity been doing for small these years? The shame this incident has brought upon a nation cannot be trivialized. Moreover the use of a logo with “Australian Cricket Family” is some sort of politically correct “we’re all in this together” appeal. No, we aren’t. You’re in this by yourselves.The CEO can’t deflect responsibility for something that was under his control. The culture that has led to this farce can’t be put down to being blindsided or aloof. Ball tampering seems to have occurred prior to the South African test if the video footage of the recent Ashes series in Australia is any guide. India also made similar claims. It isn’t hard to believe this cheating hasn’t been institutionalized for some time.

Heads must roll. Restoring faith? That all depends how the CEO deals with this. Leniency will be punished severely by fans, yet its odds on that management will believe that memories are short and Smith’s skills are a greater asset than the mugs that go the games and  pay his wages. To that end it is bang in line with Cricket Australia’s internal governance code – Lacking Board Wisdom (LBW).

Lack of ethics coaching stems from the top

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Australia’s collapse in the 3rd test against South Africa after the cheating scandal broke spoke volumes. Looking at the highlights one could see many of the players couldn’t wait to leave the ground to escape the booing. True colours. All that happened was to be able to witness a bunch of prima donnas’ inner mental weakness exposed to sunlight.

It was April last year when the players were protesting over pay and conditions. Winners were grinners as the cricket board acquiesced their demands. Oh, to have the upper hand due to exemplary skills on the field knowing it converted to juicier broadcasting rights for their paymasters. One might imagine that hidden within the contract terms, players would receive “extra” bonuses for winning. So in order to get that cash, sometimes extra methods would be required to win. Cheating was clearly seen by the “leadership” team as acceptable if it triggered incentives. Most companies would fire employees for doing the same.

As mentioned yesterday, a team that has the capacity to stoop to such levels has no proper internal controls. The coaching staff must have been blind If they were not able to see the flaws in team dynamics. While (former) Captain Steve Smith denies the coaching staff were aware of the plans to cheat, it is hard to fathom being so close to a team for so long that signs of its internal lack of governance were not evident.

Cricket Australia should rescind the contracts of the perpetrators. They should never be allowed to represent the country again, no matter how talented they may be. I would be far happier to see my team lose and work hard to turn the fortunes through grit rather than win through false means. If sponsors leave the players and the organization, no sympathy should be felt. They reap what they sow.

Cricket Australia needs to clean house. It is evident it is little more than a club run where ethics coaching takes a back seat. No trust can be restored until most if not all senior members of the management team resign or are removed. Same for coaching staff and players. If the world’s best batsman can’t inspire a team by his own amazing abilities on the field, then he has no place leading it off it. Having said that the best player doesn’t always make the best captain.

Yet it is likely a short suspension, loss of captaincy and a big fine will be seen as enough warning to prevent further incidents. Personally (and I’m not alone) I have no interest seeing cheats represent my country no matter how repentant. Smith and his culprits can play in the Indian IPL but should Cricket Australia go soft (every likelihood that it will) fans will desert them. CM doesn’t want to see social media driven boycotts. It seems apparent to every Australian CM has spoken to that they’ve already made their minds up. Good riddance. You killed your own golden goose.

Steve Smith should resign. If not he should be sacked

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Cheating is cheating. Gaining an advantage outside the rules is cheating. Money and match fees are such nowadays that players seemingly will do anything to win. Cricket was so much better when it was an amateur sport. When a bad decision from an umpire couldn’t be reviewed. It was just part of the game. Sometimes it went with you and others against you. Cricket hasn’t often been about the “spirit” of the game. Not any more.

Of course modern technology can provide instant feedback on the correct decision but I’ve always viewed it as wrong to challenge authority when it suits. Really, what message do we send young kids who grow up to think they can protest any decision they disagree with? What lessons or values get taught? TV cameras are everywhere. How do these sportsmen think they’ll get away with claiming a catch they didn’t take? Now this.

While a full inquiry hasn’t commenced it is clear that the player caught tampering was the one fighting hardest to keep his seat, Cameron Bancroft. However team captain Steve Smith admitted he knew in the press conference. While adamant he won’t step down as captain because it will never happen again (Scout’s honour), if he is found implicated in this mess he should be sacked. Period. So should the coach Darren Lehman. I absolutely admire Smith’s crazy talent as a batsman but find such lapses in judgement no excuse and even less worthy of having the honour of leading a national team. If found guilty he should face a lengthy suspension.

Any board would call on their CEO in the corporate world to resign if he/she hadn’t already volunteered it. Yet sports stars, much like politicians, believe hollow promises that the incident won’t happen again should be punishment enough. Qantas should fly these cheats back economy.

Which brings about the ethics of the game. As Smith is the highest ranked batsman in the world will the authorities go weak and impose lighter sentencing to keep the turnstiles ticking? What message does that send? If Smith is in charge he should take the fall for this shocking behaviour and be fined in the $100,000s.

Australia already has a shocking record for bad sportsmanship most infamously with the underarm delivery against NZ in 1981. This test series has been disgusting in many levels. Players mocking other players about the sexual antics of their wives and so on. Australia should forfeit the match and lose their fees. Cricket Australia should be forced to compensate the fans for this debacle and the players responsible fired. Just because Bancroft was fighting to save his career doesn’t excuse him from wrong doing. Sure, playing for one’s country is the highest accolade but any fan wants to see players reach and stay at the top through their hard efforts not through cheating.

What it does tell us is how terrible the governance is within the Australian team. Where were the whistleblowers?  Or do the millions they earn each year somehow cloud their judgement? How could the coach condone it? He was on TV admonishing fans for sledging players walking up the race after being dismissed. What a hypocrite if he knew what the team was up to. No excuse. South African Captain Hansie Cronje received a life ban for match fixing. While ball tampering is not quite as severe as throwing matches it is still cheating.

Fans will be judging the response by the authorities and Cricket Australia. Will CEO James Sutherland issue an apology and some harsh words to really clamp down on this? Or will he gloss over the sordid tour, hope time will heal and think of dollar signs only because  fans can be treated as mugs.

Ethics? A sign in society today of how little it means.