Suc­cess now cru­cial to restor­ing faith

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - BEN HORNE

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.

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