SPORT IN CRISIS:
By The Bug‘s cricket writer Bobby “Smash” Maddocks
Some of the vilest sledging ever witnessed in Test cricket anywhere in the world has left Australia-New Zealand sporting relations at the lowest level since the infamous underarm bowling incident of 1981.
The Bug can report exclusively that a relentless, unending barrage of vile and hurtful comments flung by the New Zealand fielders during Australia’s first innings on Friday in the current Sydney Test almost saw the match called off.
Feelings among the angry Australian batters were running so hot after the sustained verbal attacks on day one of the final Trans Tasman Trophy series match that a number approached coach Justin Langer that evening and demanded the match be abandoned.
One senior player told The Bug on condition of anonymity: “For as long as I can remember, sledging has always been confined to totally innocent stuff like ‘I fucked your wife and daughter last night’ and ‘I came all over their backs while riding them doggy style’ and ‘I know that’s called a threesome but what should we call it after your mother and grandmother joined it?’
“But from the moment I went out to bat, it was on big time
“I was just taking guard and the Kiwi keeper BJ Watling (pictured at top) just smiled at me and whispered: ‘How good’s Scottie Morrison, hey?’ and ‘Are you all burning for him?
“And then when I had got my eye in and was just starting to feel comfortable at the crease, the guy at short leg pipped up: ‘We might be losing this series but at least we’ve got Jacinda Ardern!’
“Another piped up: ‘Your PM makes Donald Trump look smart’.
“Watling chimed in again: ‘Are you still batting up there? I can’t see you for all of Scummo’s bushfire smoke!’
“I played a lose shot soon after and that was it.”
“I’ll be blunt. The constant references to Mr Morrison’s Hawaiian holiday and silly claims of a lack of leadership on his return got to me, especially as I believe, as do all the other guys, that our PM has the potential to be the best leader and statesman this country has ever had after Sir Donald Bradman and Sir Robert Menzies.”
The blame for Australian side’s late innings slump, losing the last five wickets for only 44 runs, was put down to the non-stop criticism of Morrison.
The same player confided: “The sledging had absolutely no effect on Marcus Labushagne, It wasn’t till after Marcus got to his double ton that the Kiwis changed tactic and shouted things at him like ‘the end of apartheid was the best thing to ever happen to South Africa’.
A source close to Langer admitted the Australian coach was shattered by the level of abuse aimed at his players.
“Everyone knows that almost every Australian Test player since the bloody game was invented has been and still are sensibly right-wing. They know only the Liberals can manage economies properly.
“Heck, you can count the number of left-wingers who have played Test cricket for Australia on the left hand of any one of the Waugh boys.
“There’s hardly ever been an Australian player over recent decades who as boys didn’t have pictures of Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Robert Menzies and Alan Jones pasted all over their bedroom walls.
“With never-ending sledges such as “at least our Jacinda isn’t a smirking, sociopathic narcissist” and “Do you think the Liar from the Shire will be mad enough to show his face here” ringing in their ears, I was surprised some of the Australian players even got a start.”
The Bug understands that players only agreed to carry on after Langer explained that the Jane McGrath Foundation ‘pink’ fund-raiser on the third day would raise much-needed cash for breast cancer nurses, and there was a very good chance both Mr Morrison and former PM John Howard would be at the ground and they could say hello and maybe even get a photo with them.
And Glenn McGrath as well, even though he was unlikely ever to be PM what with his being born in good National Party country in Dubbo and having grown up in Narromine with a solid understanding of the need for good, strong stable conservative governments.
The infamous underarm incident happened at the MCG when a mentally deranged Australian skipper Greg Chappell ordered younger brother Trevor to bowl the final ball underarm – legal at the time but terribly unsportsmanlike – at Brian McKechnie to prevent any chance of a NZ win.
It was the blackest and lowest point in cross-Tasman relationships since Australia let New Zealand’s Phar Lap get killed in California in the United States in 1932 and Australia claimed Sam Neill as one of its own.