Wanderers are really a bunch of dwarves. Show some Australians pictures of British cricketers in white sheets for Halloween and they’ll claim our dressing rooms have been infiltrated by the Ku Klux Klan. Evidence of turf. Turf context. Why bother gathering all the facts when your professional reputation is being tarnished?
The Jimmy Anderson ball-tampering row that emerged on the fourth day of the MCG says more about the nature of the Australian media, its pundits and the ignorance of some Australian cricket supporters than about Anderson himself. The whole “incident” was a teacup storm and a desperate act of (a) “beating” the Englishman (a phrase apparently used by the referee) and (b) getting some valuable clickbait out there.
Certain media, we all know who they are, should be ashamed. Instead, I bet they have a mischievous laugh as they scrutinize web traffic and profit from advertisers. I doubt they care that they are being asked to remove the word “ball rigger” from their headlines. They saw an opportunity to enter England’s crown jewels and at the same time cater to the worst in the nature of its followers, and they jumped at it.
It was also predictable. When I watched TV cameras focus on England’s possession (well before any allegedly unreliable footage surfaced), we all knew what kind of story the Australians were trying to create. Unfortunately, the vast majority of footage showed England vigorously (and perfectly legally) shooting one side of the ball into their cue ball, then tossing the ball into the rough of the pitch to stimulate the other side – something the Australians did a few Hours in the England game.
But then, the troublemakers realized their timing. Shortly after Stuart Broad showed the umpires the small piece of leather sticking out on the shiny side — hindering the field team’s ability to smooth the surface — the cameras focused on a conversation between Root, Anderson and the aforementioned official.
During this discussion, the camera zooms in on Jimmy’s hand as he moves his thumb along the quarter stitch. While it looked like he was just cleaning up some dirt or pressing on some leather (he certainly didn’t use too much force), it all went haywire on social media. It doesn’t matter:
(a) Anderson does it in front of the referee
(b) As you can see in the next picture, the condition of the ball hasn’t changed at all (it doesn’t look like a dent at all).
(c) Jimmy works on the bright side (so any manipulation will backfire).
Wide World Of Sports sensed some sort of smoking gun — more like a broken water pistol, actually — and immediately tweeted a hoax, with Anderson’s thumb still in the side seam. Although the images did not show anything conclusive, a group of social media fanatics and some ex-Australian players, such as Mitchell Johnson, who should have known better, began making almost defamatory suggestions that the England team had cheated.
In my opinion, the reaction was hysterical, unabashed, and, frankly, a little vicious. It also sounds a lot like a loser’s complaint…of course, it’s the same people who blamed England under pressure. Oh, the irony.
Following the irresponsible reporting of the “incident” on Cricket Australia’s official website – which appeared to legitimize the utter ahistorical event – a large number of Australians got out of their metaphorical saddles and enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Idiots start throwing code around, arguing that changing the state of the ball in any way is illegal. Of course, what they forgot to mention is that the photo proves that Anderson didn’t alter the ball, and that the law says it’s perfectly legal to remove mud from the quarter seam.
Trevor Bayliss sensed another argument and ran to the referee room in the first place. They confirmed what any sane, objective and impartial person already knew: Anderson did nothing wrong and the story was just “beaten.” How funny that the referees who were present at the alleged incident used this expression themselves. It’s as if they know how the Australian media works.
Obviously yesterday’s game was cut short because of the rain, so there’s nothing to talk about. But cynics might argue that the row was a deliberate distraction from the state of the game: England beat Australia in Melbourne and may have avoided whitewashing. Unfortunately, they can’t just say “well played” and maybe enjoy a little harmless “well, you’ve lost the series” banter.
I like Australians. I have second cousins from Australia. I spent six months outside after graduation and loved the country and the people. However, it’s all very tiresome when the joke crosses the line and turns into something sour, which, in this watcher’s eyes, is kind of sneaky. I lost some respect in front of some people yesterday.