‘Crass’ cricket cringe is out of control
IF YOU thought the players' pact unveiled by Tim Paine and Josh Hazlewood a few days ago was as cringe-worthy as it gets for the Australian cricket team - you're wrong.
After a scathing report into the state of Australian cricket revealed disturbing cultural problems at the highest level - laid bare after the ball tampering scandal in South Africa - Paine and Co. committed to turning over a new leaf.
The players' pact asked the Aussie public to "compete with us, smile with us, fight with us" and "dream with us". At the same time, it also invited the rest of the world to "laugh at us".
Former England captain Michael Vaughan was only too happy to oblige, describing the pact as "cringe-worthy" and a "load of B".
Ex-Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds said it was "a bit corny" and reeked of PR spin. And if he thought that was bad, what until he sees the sight that will greet the current crop when they walk into the changeroom at Perth's Optus Stadium tomorrow for the first of three ODIs against South Africa.
Photos emerged of the inner sanctum and among the heavy splashes of gold are slogans that would have prompted even more ridicule had they been included in the players' pact.
Phrases like "Make Australia proud" and "We are Australia's cricket team" are plastered on the walls. But our favourite, hands down, is "Elite honesty".
We're not entirely sure how elite honesty differs from regular honesty, and neither is the Twittersphere. Cricket writers and commentators collectively shook their heads in disbelief at the latest effort by those in charge to make us forget seven months ago the Aussies were being condemned as a bunch of cheats and liars.
Who knew it would only take some elite honesty to get the public back on board.
A couple of English cricket scribes also sunk the boot in, adding another layer to the humiliation, while former Aussie star Dean Jones joined the chorus of exasperation.
New Australia vice-captain Alex Carey says it's time for the team's batsmen to pull their weight, starting from Sunday.
Australia is the most decorated team in one-day cricket, but it is in the midst of a crippling rut that has seen it lose 16 of its past 18 completed ODI games.
Batting collapses have been a key feature of the losing run, and the issue has also become a problem in the Test and T20 arena. Carey said it was time for the team's batsmen to fire.
"We know how good the bowlers are," Carey said. "It is now time for our batters to stand up and chase what's set, or put a good total on the board.
"We know that. We're not shying away from that. We know we have to stand up in key moments.
"Chris Lynn said it really well - play fearless cricket, not reckless cricket.
"We know the power some guys have, but try to show that power more in the 45th, later in the game.
"We've had some really honest sessions. Hopefully that hard work will pay off over the next few days."
Sunday's series-opener at Perth's Optus Stadium comes amid a backdrop of off-field dramas. Cricket Australia chairman David Peever quit this week in the wake of the damning review into Australian cricket, with the effects of the ball-tampering scandal still being heavily felt.
But Carey, who has played just three ODIs, said he hadn't been affected by the dramas.
"I'm so excited to get out there and play an exciting brand of cricket and play with a big smile on my face," he said.
"It's not every day you get to represent your country.
"It's a really exciting period, and hopefully the success comes. The guys are really confident."
- with AAP