Success now crucial to restoring faith
AUSTRALIAN cricket yesterday jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire, with enormous pressure now riding on Steve Smith’s team in Bangladesh to restore lost faith in the sport.
Cricket has had its finger on the self- destruct button for the past three months and there was frank acknowledgement yesterday from James Sutherland that the game is on the nose.
The landmark new pay deal underpinned by the revenue share model is a testament to the power of player unity, but as cricket’s shop- front window, it’s now up to the Test team to immediately deliver on the field as well.
Sutherland and Australian Cricketers Association counterpart Alistair Nicholson must shoulder much blame for the shameless civil war that’s railroaded the sport for so long, but as culpable as the front office types might be – nobody cheers for the administrators.
The Australian cricket team will go on trial in Bangladesh – both as a side that has struggled to win on the sub- continent for far too long and one that has the power to repair the ill- feeling and cynicism the public bears against the game.
Cricket threatened to take something as important to the Australian sporting fabric as an Ashes series away from the people, and there are now no excuses but to win that precious urn. Of course that is an unfair burden to place on 11 individual players in baggy green, when the pay fight was primarily about the claims of domestic cricketers and the group as a whole – not to mention CA’s interests in aggressively trying to change a model which had been the status quo for 20 years.
But in these matters off image and trust, perception is reality, and winning or losing against Bangladesh and then England will determine how quickly the game can regain public support.