Columnists 4.4.2018 01:52 pm

For cricket’s sanity, the Aussies can’t become w(a)ussies

Australian Captain Tim Paine (L) chats with bowler Pat Cummins (R) on the second day of the fourth Test cricket match between South Africa and Australia won by South Africa at Wanderers cricket ground on March 31, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.   / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Australian Captain Tim Paine (L) chats with bowler Pat Cummins (R) on the second day of the fourth Test cricket match between South Africa and Australia won by South Africa at Wanderers cricket ground on March 31, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

The supposedly heartwarming scenes we saw at the Wanderers can’t be repeated in the coming months.

In these politically correct times, it’s hardly surprising that many people are so entranced by the Australian cricket team’s metamorphosis since the ball-tampering scandal.

For them, it’s so “beautiful” to see principles of dignity and respect being embodied by new captain Tim Paine and his troops.

This is the world they want to live in, where everyone gets along and no-one offends.

And boy, when someone does there is so much outrage you can almost hear the sensitive souls shedding tears because their hearts are so sore.

It is, frankly, a ridiculous situation.

“It’s odd,” Proteas opener Dean Elgar said during the Wanderers Test.

“I’ve played quite a few Tests against Australia and it’s definitely been the most docile Test since I have played against them.”

He added an important caveat: “I don’t think its going to last very long.”

Thank goodness!

The most infuriating thing for me is how the Australians denied their cricketing DNA in the massive 492-run loss.

Paine gently hugged Temba Bavuma after the ball gently rolled between the diminutive batsman’s pads to him.

That was rather overly friendly.

But the candy floss, ponies and unicorns became too much when opener Joe Burns swept a delivery straight into Aiden Markram’s shins at short leg.

He immediately ran to South Africa’s opener to ostensibly enquire about his health.

What the hell is that about?

Markram was doing his job!

Sometimes an awkward blow on the body is collateral damage, the “risk” of doing the job.

Can you imagine the great Australian side under Steve Waugh giving an opposition short leg fielder a hug because Matthew Hayden whacked a pull straight into him?

It’s a blasphemous thought.

Faf du Plessis’ decision to bat on a grind the opposition into the submission – despite the official explanation

Three Australians cheated on this tour, of that there’s no doubt.

We also can’t deny that this vintage’s application of Australia’s robust culture transformed into arrogance and entitlement.

But that’s an emotional intelligence thing.

It’s down to a captain who’s actually simply boyish at heart when it comes to cricket and his deputy who was pushed to his breaking point and didn’t have the emotional tools to handle it.

Australian cricket can’t go down this pathetically passive path.

It would mean them denying their whole identity.

The allure of Test cricket is watching the Baggy Greens mix that infuriating chip on their collective shoulder with excellence on the field.

I want to love to hate them, not love them for running a social responsibility programme.

Robustness and edginess is what makes Australian cricket special – with the right dash of perspective obviously.

Hopefully the teddy bear picnic at the Wanderers was only a short-term response of all the outrage and things will be more normal in the coming months.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

 

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