Threats of broken arms, pointing fingers at each other and hurling foul mouthed abuse
are not the characteristics we expect to see in a game of cricket, no matter what is at stake for those involved.
As a cricketer you know when you have overstepped the mark and I hope there are a few players who are now realising their behaviour was totally unacceptable despite being in the heat of the battle.
Familiarity breeds contempt and with back to back series' between the two sides England and Australia are starting to grow sick of the sight of each other.
For those of you who say it is all good fun and a win at all costs mentality have totally missed the point. There are audiences all over the world watching this series, many of them children, and to see grown men almost coming to blows on a cricket field does not set the right example for them to follow.
These players, whether they realise it or not, are icons to many people and should act that way. They are exposed like never before. The technology available to the third umpire, thanks to television, ensures there is no hiding place for any player. Indeed Michael Clarke's threats were picked up thanks to the stump microphone.
Clarke, often criticised by his own supporters for being arrogant, has not helped matters himself. As captain he should be setting the right example to his players, not encouraging them with his own abuse. The ICC have fined the Australian captain 20 percent of his match fee for his indiscretions and let's hope that this deters him and his team from further acts of abuse.
Writing books and talking about fellow players hasn’t helped the situation either. It may help to sell books but it does little to promote friendship and respect on or off the field. To be so open and honest whilst still playing the game simply fuels the situation.
The Australian press have not helped either with their aggressive remarks about Stuart Broad in the lead up to the first Test. All they did was fan the flames for the players and spectators. The likes of David Warner do not need encouraging.
Warner's comments about a fellow professional, Jonathan Trott, were totally out of line and was another example of how the Australian opener needs educating about how to conduct himself on and off the pitch.
Clarke responded by saying that there was still a lot of mutual respect between the players but I have a feeling this is being diluted with every passing game. Darren Lehman, Australia's coach, would not admonish Warner for his comments but instead called upon the ICC to act if they
felt he had overstepped the mark. How foolish they must feel now after Trott's recent revelations.
The one thing that will stick in my mind is the blatant abuse directed at Jimmy Anderson during those final moments of the first Test. Yes Anderson is no stranger to sledging himself but in fairness to him on this occasion he didn’t lower himself to the levels of those around him, instead he relied on the on-field umpires to intervene.
When he was dismissed for the Australians to win the match they were quick to hurl yet more abuse at the England opening bowler.
Australia introduced the world to sledging but in this game they have taken it to another
level. They may have won the game but they are fast losing respect.
Cricket is supposedly a gentleman's game but this is becoming more of a myth with every passing year with controversies around match-fixing, cheating and now blatant abuse. Football has crossed the line, we do not want cricket to follow. If it does I see no turning back.
Thankfully England have not lowered themselves to the Australians' depths so far and I hope
they distant themselves from it rather than becoming embroiled in it.
I am sure England contribute to the on-field 'banter' but Alastair Cook and Andy Flower have a tight reign over their players and do not advocate overstepping the mark unlike the brash and combative Lehman and Clarke in the Australian camp who seem to advocate such actions. England's hierarchy are leading by example so far.
Where are the likes of Freddie Flintoff and Brett Lee when you need them? Flintoff's
heroic gesture in 2005 when, despite victory in a hard fought game, he comforted the defeated Lee was a true act of sportsmanship but this now seems an eternity ago when compared to today's antics.
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