It’s just not cricket…is it?

It's just not it?

In my modest playing career I never got the impression that running a cricket team was particularly hard. There were always players of different ability level and often significant differences in age and playing experience. There was a captain who ran the show, supported by some trusted deputies and a club president (always a volunteer) setting the standards. If you were lucky these leaders could be very good role models and also motivators in the wider and far more important sphere of everyday life.

A senior club figure used to remind me that the game of cricket was ‘bigger than us all’. I hold to that and also to the remark allegedly made by Bill Woodfull (the Australian Test cricketer during the tumultuous ‘Bodyline’ years in 1932/33) that it (cricket) was ‘too good to be ruined’.

From what I can see, this Australian cricket team appears to be a poorly run workplace. Everywhere you look there’s a new layer of management. Senior people seem to make their own rules. The whole thing is a bubble of self-importance and self-adulation punctuated by regular utterances about the legacy and virtue of the baggy green cap.

An adoring and somewhat naive public didn’t need exposure to any of that until the B grade buffoonery that was the Smith/Bancroft ball tampering ruse came unstuck on Saturday night.

Then these cricketers were exposed in all their humanity. Bemused, mislead, unsure of the right story to tell, frightened even. ‘I promise it won’t happen again,’ said Australian Captain Steve Smith in his excruciating day 3 press conference.

When the Prime Minister weighed in, reactions sparked everywhere and now people in suits are in South Africa trying to get to the bottom of what happened. Which is that the team behind in the game decide to cheat to catch up.

South African Captain Faf Du Plessis described this test series in South Africa as a soap opera. In the next episodes we’ll see the extent of the punishments handed out, and the team line up for the fourth test will be interesting as this flaming wreck of a tour makes its way to Johannesburg.

A friend of mine died accidentally on the weekend. He was a trier and a winner. He played games fairly and won the admiration and respect of those around him on the way. What more could you want to say about any sportsperson? If I’m crying any tears this week it’s over him…


In his soon to be released memoir, Around the Grounds, Peter Newlinds  writes about the amazing experiences he had playing club cricket, just by loving the game and being around the right people

Photo Courtesy of

Marcus Wallis

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