Ball Scratching …

… to head scratching.

A friend I was talking to the other day linked the status of the Australian Cricket captain to the status of the Australian Prime Minister. It’s probably true that more people around the world can name Steve Smith than Malcolm Turnbull. Yes, even in the United States where fewer than a handful could name either.

For the first time in history they are equally popular here at home.

There is a difference in sport between playing for great clubs like Manchester United and playing for a country. When you represent Australia you carry with you the blessings and hopes of most Australians. A fine performance enhances our reputation, a poor performance diminishes it. Cheating trashes it. We are all stakeholders.

Club  players represent fans who chose to follow that club. Neither the players or the fans are necessarily associated with a particular nation. Should a team be renowned for poor sportsmanship and rough play we accept that for what it’s worth and call it Collingwood.

And yes, everyone who plays sport breaks rules. The officials are there to police that, there are sanctions usually applied on the spot. But there is a hierarchy of misbehaviour. The taking of performance enhancing drugs is universally condemned. The sanctions are severe. Whilst ball tampering is regarded by the ICC as a relatively minor misdemeanour it is clear that the public at large see it as something akin to doping. Something that Warner was quick to condemn when the culprit was Faf Du Plessis.

The principal offenders are on their way home, further sanctions await. What I’m scratching my head about is that Coach Lehmann is still in place.

Discipline, consistency of behaviour and accountability for performances are all key ingredients that need to improve. And we see that the head coach is ultimately responsible …

Said James Sutherland, chief executive of Cricket Australia, in 2013 on the occasion of Micky Arthur’s sacking.

Perhaps Sutherland is convinced that Boof knew nothing of the intention to cheat and is waiting for the inquiry to finish before moving him along for his failure to set a more appropriate standard. He surely fails by the standard set for Micky Arthur.

What of the effects in real life?

I’m off on a cruise soon. I expect I’ll be forbidden to enter the galley in case I interfere with the meat balls. Poms will say “would you like sandpaper with that”.Oh what ignominy.

New Zealanders will want to talk about cricket for the first time in many years – I guess I’ll have to talk about sheep.