Michael Clarke and ‘the line’

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Sanctimonious get

One of the most annoying things about the Australian cricket team is not its verbal aggression but the players’ relentless self-righteousness about it.

Here’s a quote from Michael Clarke that you’ll feel like you’ve read a thousand times before.

“I think we play our cricket hard on the field but I think as Australians we understand and respect there’s a line you can’t cross.”

What Clarke doesn’t get is that what he perceives to be ‘the line’ might not necessarily be the line to everyone else in the world. Who made you King of the Line, Michael? Why do you get to decide what does and doesn’t go?

He reminds us of one of those strong-willed but stupid kids who’s forever changing the rules of whatever game he’s playing so that he always wins. He’s trying to enjoy his victories, but all the other kids are sort of rolling their eyes and thinking maybe they should go and do something else now.

In the same interview, Clarke also says that he himself has crossed the line twice in the last year.

Actually, he says he ‘made no bones about’ the incident with James Anderson and that what he said ‘wasn’t appropriate’. However, a second later he’s going on about the importance of going close to the line, but not crossing it. He then appears to imply that this incident and a similar one with Dale Steyn fall under the heading ‘Australians playing cricket extremely fairly’.

Maybe it’s just that Clarke has a different definition of ‘the line’. In his world, you can cross the acceptable/unacceptable threshold with impunity. What he’s talking about is the line that separates ‘not stabbing someone in the eye with the scorer’s pencil’ from ‘stabbing someone in the eye with the scorer’s pencil’.


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  1. Maybe its the thickness of the line that changes – a bit like when you go away to a game where the creases have been painted with one of the things they use to do football touchlines and everyone is out stumped. Pups line is in the same place as everyone elses, its just 8 feet thick.

    1. Thick lines? Brings to mind a song about blurred boundaries which many felt was in favour of inappropriate behaviour.

    2. The confusion simply derives from Clark’s ambiguity in referring to each of the two lines. His ultimate point is simply an agreeable one that we must all read between the lines, and when we do things, do them our way. Which in his case is an Australian way, but you don’t begrudge a person their hohmetown allegiances.

  2. I suggest that you use the scorer’s pencil to draw the line.

    Especially since you sharpened that pencil yesterday.

    Are you now in the pencil vending business, KC? You seem regularly to be trying to do some subliminal whatsit to encourage pencil use.

    Quaint, but strange.

  3. I think I see the problem. You’re assuming he’s speaking English, whereas he is actually using the variant language Cheatingbastardish. The differences are subtle, but take this example from Darren Lehmann:

    “I don’t advocate walking, but when you hit it to first slip it’s pretty hard.”

    At first reading that appears to be a complete contradiction, where the second part of the sentence makes an utter mockery of the first part. However, the translation from Cheatingbastardish restores the logic of the construction:

    “I don’t advocate walking for Australians because that would damage our chances of winning, but when anyone else does it they are massive cheats.”

    Examples abound. Ricky Ponting spoke Cheatingbastardish fluently:

    “We always play by the Spirit of Cricket.”

    which makes sense only when you realise that the phrase “play by” in Cheatingbastardish actually means “try to make sure we don’t get caught”, and the phrase “Spirit of Cricket” actually means “cheating.”

    In the translation from Cheatingbastardish, Michael Clarke’s comments make complete sense:

    “I think we play our cricket hard on the field but I think as Australians we understand and respect there’s a line you can’t cross.”

    “I think we play our cricket hard on the field but I think as Australians we understand and respect there’s a line other teams can’t cross but we can whenever it suits us.”

    1. lmao

      yes, the continuing double standards from that part of the world really are extraordinary. or rather they aren’t, they’re just ordinary. (and i don’t mean that in the australian sense.) “we are allowed to do whatever it takes to win, because we are born winners. everyone else has to play by the rules, or we’ll report them to the match referee.” ah well, glad we got that sorted out.

      this kid rogers looks useful though – england might think about giving him a game…

    2. I’d be the last person in the world to defend Australian cricketers, but you’re missing the point of what Lehmann said. He meant that lots of people nick to the keeper and stand their ground — which he (and incidentally I) am OK with. But when you so obviously nick it to first slip and stand there, you’re just taking the mickey. It looks horrible. It’s like speeding — 5 mph over the limit is acceptable, but 30 mph is clearly wrong. Life has gray areas, mate.

  4. Middlesex are about to chase 472 to win. The third highest run chase at Lord’s and the highest since 1896.

  5. For all the talk of Lancashire’s inability to bat, I see we scored 403 beating Northants. Impressive stuff, I’m sure anyone would agree. A real team effort as well, with all of our batsmen, including our #3, scoring at least 1 run in the match.

    And the news gets better. The pressure our Brilliant Batting Boys exerted on the opposition’s bowlers was so great that they were forced to concede more runs in 2nd innings extras than any of our batsmen scored in the 1st innings. How about that for excellence.

    1. Looking at both the Middlesex and Lancashire winning scorecards today – that fixture between the two sides at Lord’s in a couple of weeks time could be interesting.

      Will each side be vying to fail more miserably than the other in the first innings, in order to then snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the second innings?

      If so, it might look a bit like those female badminton players in the 2012 Olympics trying not to win any points for some tactical reason long since forgotten, if indeed it was ever remembered.

    2. …and I meant to go on to say…

      …where, if anywhere, does that all-important line get crossed in such a scenario?

  6. Being the brilliant batsman that he is I believe he is referred to at the four king Michael Clarke.

  7. Yep, classic aussie sports team/schoolyard bully tactic. If anyone else crosses what they have arbitrarily determined to be the line, then it’s all on. Yet if they get called out for crossing it, there’ll be a snide and massively insincere apology, quickly followed by congratulating themselves for being such good blokes who accept when they are wrong.
    Being a kiwi i’m still just dark about this though. Wankers.

  8. He’s pretty clear about it though, saying “there’s a line you can’t cross.” You, not him.

    1. Yes. We did debate putting ‘git’ but there’s a subtle distinction between ‘get’ and ‘git’ which we can’t put into words. We knew it would be confusing for 99 per cent of our readers, but that rarely stops us.

    2. One is swearing, like arse and knobhead. The other is not swearing, like sod and roofing felt. Actually, I’m not sure about sod. I suspect I could have said “Daft get” in my house in 1983 and got away with it, but “Daft sod” might have got me into trouble. “Daft git” would definitely have got me into trouble, as would “Motherfucker”.

      Anyway, the Cyclops TV shop joke doesn’t work with Git.

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