For the most part of that time I have felt pride in the Australian team. They didn't always win, they didn't always play well, but they held the values of the game at their hearts. If they lost they accepted it and hoped to do better. If they won they celebrated and looked to do even better in the next game.
Not always, but mostly.
Something has changed in the current Australian team, and there needs to be some serious conversations and changes made at the highest level if the actions of the past few weeks are to be rectified.
After the actions of yesterday's play in South Africa, does anyone believe there are any redeemable qualities remaining in the Australian cricket team? There is simply no excuse or explanation for what happened except that at the very least the leadership group of the team are cheats. By having a player use a piece of tape with granules of the pitch on it to try and rough up the ball in order to change its condition, this was a deliberate and knowing flaunting of the laws of the game. Don't believe any kind of watering down of language that may be brought forth in the coming days. It was no mistake, or an error of judgement. It was blatant cheating. And the penalties for this must be severe. And not just from the ICC.
What has happened to the Australian team? We sledge mercilessly and without favour constantly, but suddenly carry on like school kids as soon as someone dares to do the same thing back at us. We ignore how poorly our home crowds treat opposition players and teams in Australia, but complain to the referee and the media the second it happens to us in overseas conditions. We dare to call others cheats when they appear to contravene the rules, but somehow expect that when we try to do the same thing we won't get caught, and when we do we expect that an apology and saying we'll never do it again should be enough to end the matter. The question has been asked for some time but never really answered, as to why it appears that the only series that seem to have bad relations between the teams playing are the ones that Australia play in.
Steve Smith is embarrassed by this? AUSTRALIAN CRICKET SUPPORTERS ARE EMBARRASSED BY THIS!!! These last few weeks have made ALL Australians feel awkward and nauseous about our own team. Their conduct overall has been appalling, and so far it appears nothing has been done to rectify it and pull these players back into line and reminded of the privilege they have of representing our country and the way they should behave to uphold it. It has been bad enough recently, but this is the final straw. South Africa - and the world - are now laughing at Australian cricket and its followers. Our team and its leaders have made a mockery of the game of cricket and how it should be played.
Whoever is a part of this so-called 'leadership group' that decided this tactic should be used, should be immediately suspended by Cricket Australia for the 4th Test. Steve Smith must immediately fall on his sword, or if he won't, then Cricket Australia must sack him as captain, and also ensure anyone who was a part of this decision never captains Australia again.The board also needs to come in and set the terms to what is acceptable behaviour on the cricket field and what is not, starting from now. The players may well have thought that they were in charge of the show after their victory in regards to the Memorandum of Understanding back in August, but they have forfeited any of that with their deplorable actions in recent times. This is the board's chance to show why it exists. This cannot be tolerated any longer, and if CA doesn't show strength in this then we forfeit any right to consider ourselves as leaders in the cricket world again.
I feel sick this morning, and it has nothing to do with what I drank last night. This is a line in the sand moment. Let's see if cricket in Australia has the leadership and moral conscience to fix this properly immediately.