Have Australia fans become paranoid about opposition ball tampering yet?

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Ball-chasing (via BT Sport)

You already know that this is going to become a thing. The thought process is utterly predictable.

It goes like this: Australia are no longer ball tampering and are no longer taking wickets with the old ball. The opposition are taking wickets with the old ball, ergo they must be ball-tampering.

For a certain sort of fan, this is an entirely logical train of thought. The alternative – that Australia are less good at batting or less good at bowling than the opposition – simply doesn’t chime with the long-established ‘fact’ that Australians are the best at cricket.

This isn’t all Australia fans. It’s just the ones who bleat about pitch doctoring whenever Australia lose overseas. (Their definition of a doctored pitch: one possessed of any characteristic that differs from a typical Australian pitch.)

If opposition ball-tampering paranoia has not yet manifested itself, let us assure you that it will and let us also assure you that it is not going to go away any time soon.

If you thought that being caught sandpaper-in-hand/pants would encourage a new spirit of humility, you haven’t been paying attention. The country that introduced us to the phrase ‘elite humility‘ quite clearly hasn’t really got to grips with the concept.

What we will instead be treated to in the wake of all future Australia defeats is a mega-dose of elite sanctimony. ‘The reason we lost is because wey’re the only ones who are playing fair.’

Australia are getting beaten. Let the thinly-veiled retaliatory mud-slinging commence!


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  1. Their definition of a doctored pitch: one possessed of any characteristic that differs from a typical Australian pitch

    Yes, they are clearly wrong about this – the real definition, as any fule kno, is a pitch possessed of any characteristic that differs from a typical Old Trafford pitch.

  2. This really emphasises the jolly bad luck they suffered being caught ball tampering on first and only time they had ever done it. Ever.

  3. It occurs to me that we are all looking at this the wrong way…

    Australians play hard but fair – everybody knows that. And we know they know where the line is: they may get very close to it, they may “head-butt” it, hell they may even take a knuckle-duster to the line; they DON’T CROSS IT. That’s for other people to do (i.e. when playing against Australia).

    Hence, self-evidently, whatever they do or did cannot be cheating or ball-tampering or any other awful thing. It must be OK, because Australia did it.

    No wonder they all looked shocked when they were accused of such awful things. It’s the rest of the cricketing world which is at fault here. {smacks self repeatedly in forehead}

    Yes – elite sanctimony, coming soon to a presser near you (and you and you)

  4. Mitchel Starc is bowling like crap but apart from that it’s hard to complain about what the opponents are doing when our batters are twatting full tosses back to the bowler. If they average 35 in first class cricket on the same pitches against bowlers who in theory are worse than Starc and Co I don’t know what we expected.

    1. It is a bit mystifying. When exactly did Australia stop producing top-quality batsmen? It can’t just be a general “we’re great now so we’ll always be great” complacency (as is sometimes held to have undermined the Windies), because they never stopped producing top-quality bowlers. Obviously when the naughty boys are allowed back they will expect to make a big difference, but that would/will only mask the deficiencies elsewhere, not fix them.

      Haven’t some people suggested it’s the increasingly flat pitches, which foster a generation of lazy batsmen, unable to cut it at top level because they’ve not had to work hard enough on the way there..? But that doesn’t hold up either, or surely (many of) those same batsmen would be averaging 50+ in domestic cricket and we know that’s not the case.

      It’s a conundrum all right, Micko. But you’ll have to excuse us for enjoying it anyway… England seemed to have this problem (among others) for about 150 years while I was growing up 😉

      1. When exactly did Australia stop producing top-quality batsmen?

        When Warne and McGrath retired.

        Test batting is difficult, but it’s a whole lot easier when you know for a fact that your bowlers are better than your opponent’s bowlers, and that consequently they will mop up any mistakes you make.

        When Australia stopped having the two best bowlers in the world, batting became harder. For a while they maintained a decent attack, and for a while their batting was commensurately decent. But now, with no top-class bowlers to speak of, the batsmen are under genuine pressure. It’s them or nothing, the sort of pressure that people like Matthew Hayden never had to deal with.

        When England were at their worst, they had Atherton, Stewart, Butcher, Thorpe, Hussein and others like them, high class batsmen in anyone’s book. But without a bowling attack to support them, they repeatedly failed. Bowlers hold all the cards in test cricket – they are the difference.

        (KC has said as much in other ways before, by saying that wickets are the currency of test cricket, not runs.)

      2. While this is true to some extent, I feel it is a bit of an oversimplification. Good test batsmen are good test batsmen, regardless of the bowling attack that supports you. Hayden and a few more like him got lucky because world cricket, at that time, did lack a quality attack (the Wasim-Waqar kind) and they were never truly tested because the best bowlers, as you point out, were their team mates. Tendulkar, Chanderpaul, Lara all played with weak bowling attacks throughout their careers and managed to be more than decent. Smith and Warner are still very effective, regardless of the weakened Aussie bowling attack.

      3. Australia’s development system is pretty ordinary, from youth levels up. It’s most obvious with batsmen, but can also be seen from the lack of good long-form wrist spinners and even swing bowlers (not that they’ve ever had many).

        If the ‘it’s because their best bowlers left’ hypothesis was true, they would still have batsmen doing well at first-class level. Other than Smith and Warner, no such batsmen exist.

      4. I had forgotten that post; it does make a good case.

        Not everything in the current state of affairs is explained by that, though. What I was wondering above is not so much why Australia’s test batsmen are no longer the force they were – it was more to do with the weaker state of batting further down the chain. Plenty of people have been talking about this, because the Aussies now find themselves having to pick players who have only very mediocre returns in Shield cricket.

        Back when Oz were on top, they had ridiculous strength below the waterline as well, with players like Jamie Cox unable to get a sniff simply because the test incumbents were even better than him. “Mr Cricket” Hussey and Brad Hodge did get their chance in the end, but had to wait a long time for that.

        The current state of Oz domestic cricket can’t ALL be down to the lack of two all-time greats in the national side – can it..?

        I do think Bert has been a bit unfair to the Aussie bowlers as well. Obviously they have looked toothless in this current fixture, but they’re worn out: to give him his due, Paine has admitted that India managed to do to them exactly what they wanted to do to India, i.e. keep the bowlers coming back for spell after spell, thus wearing them out for later in the series. (I’m still surprised that Cummins hasn’t broken down injured, but whatever magic they worked on him prior to the last Ashes series seems to have made a permanent difference.) Surely, though, they are still a world-class attack… they just weren’t expecting India to show up with a world-class attack of their own. [Overall, it does seem to be hubris which has undone them this time. It’s all well and good outwardly feigning disregard for your opponent’s strengths, so long as you don’t make the mistake of inwardly underestimating them. They were absolutely convinced that if they concentrated on Kohli, the rest would take care of itself. That worked out well for them, didn’t it?]

      5. I don’t think our previous great bowling attack had that much of an impact on batting quality of the nation as a whole. In the early 2000s we had batsmen who couldn’t get games for Australia like Stuart Law and Chris Rogers coming and playing County Cricket and averaging 60 there. Could you imagine Travis Head or Marnus Labuschane doing the same?

      6. Tendulkar, Chanderpaul, Lara all played with weak bowling attacks throughout their careers and managed to be more than decent. Smith and Warner are still very effective, regardless of the weakened Aussie bowling attack.

        Fair points all. Today’s (lack of) cricket though has emphasised the point. India have won their first series in Australia, and yet if you were to name the best Indian team of all time, it wouldn’t have many of the current batsmen in it. Kohli is worth a place, but after that it would all be Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman… all of whom played in the same team!

        So I guess what I am trying to say is not so much that bowlers make batsmen, but that great bowlers make mediocre batsmen into good batsmen. That classic Australian team had some very good batsmen (Ponting, Gilchrist, Clarke), but it also had some very ordinary batsmen who were brilliant in winning teams but who couldn’t generate a win when it was up to them. Hayden, Langer, Martyn, Lehman, Katich, Watson…

        The idea of the “conveyor belt” of world class players largely came from this era, when every Sheffield Shield player who was tried in the test team turned out to be a success. But without Warne and McGrath, I’m not sure they would have been successful. The conveyor belt ceased to be such in about 1995, with the debut of Ricky Ponting. After that, only Gilchrist (1999) and Clarke (2004) really count as genuinely world class batsmen. The Sheffield Shield hasn’t produced a stream of world beaters for 20 years.

      7. I can only assume anyone calling Langer, Hayden, Martyn and (later career) Katich ‘ordinary batsmen’ is being a bit cheeky. Lehmann, Watson and (early career) Katich didn’t quite cut it in Tests, but I’m sure the Australians would rather a top six of Langer, Hayden, Katich, Martyn, Lehmann and Watson than what they’re serving up at the moment.

      8. Ehhh, I’d happily take Langer and Hayden at the top of my order against anyone and be confident of matching (close enough) whoever the opposition had in their side, including Greenidge and Haynes, Gambhir and Sehwag or even Hobbs and Sutcliffe.

        I agree with Bert though; especially over a four- or five-test series your bowlers give your top order batsmen the platforms and the confidence to perform. But that won’t matter much with these guys; just not enough there. The Australian 3rd XI from 2001 would be a better batting side.

  5. Paine has been whining about the pitches being flat. Your team is averaging 24 with the bat mate. The last thing you want is more bowler-friendly pitches.

    1. au contraire, the impact of batsmen playing dumb shots over and over is lessened on spicier wickets

  6. Great win by India — these were things I used to dream about growing up — suspect that’s how some of you English fans felt in 2010-11.

    Heard some of Ravi Shastri’s comments after the game — he’s definitely giving Justin Langer a run for his money in the rubbish-talking coach field.

    1. Shastri is an idiot who is given good money to toe the BCCI line. What is his actual technical contribution to the team? He’s more a team manager than coach imo.

      1. I’m not sure ‘idiot’ is the right word for someone who knows what’s best for his bank balance and is prepared to sacrifice his inegrity. I’d go for ‘yes-man’, which also covers his relationship with Kohli.

        And on the subject of Kohli did anyone else see that classic piece of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ when he advised the Aussie batsmen to leave their egos at home when preparing to face England this summer?

  7. “Do as I say not as I do” is very good advice if it’s Kohli, because leaving Smith and Warner out of it none of them can do what he does.

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