Lose the mo­ral com­pass

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - LETTERS - Heinz Schenk

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.

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