News / Opinion / Columns

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
10 Nov 2018
9:30 am

Timid, politically correct Baggy Greens are plain sad to watch

Heinz Schenk

To change the essence of a country’s sporting culture to such an extent that it denies what makes it great is worse than losing a moral compass.

South Africa's captain Faf du Plessis (2nd L) shakes hands with Australia's captain Aaron Finch (L) after his team won the first one-day international (ODI) cricket match between South Africa and Australia at the Optus Stadium in Perth on November 4, 2018. Picture: TONY ASHBY / AFP

It’s weird to experience Australian cricket at the moment.

South African fans don’t necessarily like them, but deep down we’ve always respected them because of the hard way they play cricket.

Yet the timid, politically correct caricature that is the Baggy Greens is just plain sad to watch.

Yes, they’ll win a few games along the way, but only because they still have one of the most enviously potent attacks of fast bowlers and a few game-breaking batsmen who do come off.

But don’t expect the Aussies to play those infuriating mind games that out-psyched opponents.

Or claim dodgy catches that swing matches.

Or stand their ground at the crease when the nick seemed obvious but the opposition don’t have any reviews left.

More thrillingly, the Aussies have invariably exploited those slices of fortune through some proper cricket – a magnificent innings here and some stunning spells of bowling there.

Now, we’re stuck in this pedantic paradigm called “elite honesty”, where the game is played by the book through politeness and mutual respect.

The respect part is ironic because I’ve never seen a SA team not respect Australia, regardless of their moral compass.

Cricket might be called a gentleman’s game, but it holds precious little moral authority.

Hell, does any elite sport, really?

Winning World Cups might bring nations together and certain team cultures provide lessons on teamwork.

But morality stops on the field of play.

I once edged a flick to square during a school match. It was blatantly obvious.

I didn’t walk, it would have put my team in a precarious position and I felt it was the job of the umpire to give me out.

All one can really hope for is the curbing of blatant cheating – like ball-tampering with sandpaper – and deal with lesser sanctions with something akin to a yellow card.

To change the essence of a country’s sporting culture to such an extent that it denies what makes it great is far more criminal.

Heinz Schenk. Picture: Michel Bega

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