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Old-order Collapse
January/February 2011


Never down down under: Australian cricket fans show a lot more spirit than their team 

The public relations man for Cricket Australia was despondent. Not only had his team taken the most severe beating since 1966 in an Ashes Test match played on home ground, the TV ratings were plunging, endangering the economic viability of the sport. Australians are no different from the English in their distaste for defeat by the Old Enemy. The difference is that the English are accustomed to it. For granted for a generation, Australians have taken the superiority of their cricket team. True, they lost to England in a monumental series in 2005, but they could explain that away. England had been lucky. Now they are learning to live with defeat, and the surprise is that they are less concerned by it than you would expect. Commerce and corruption have already taken a toll.

The sports page of the Adelaide Advertiser on the fifth and last day of the second Test — the first in Brisbane was drawn — showed a picture of a beastly black cloud over the cricket ground. Mike Hussey, the best Australian batsman of the series so far, spelled out the message: heavy rain was the only factor that could save Australia. There was indeed a violent downpour that day, but it started two hours after England had won by an innings and 71 runs. However, the very idea that Australia's cricketers should be saved from humiliation by the weather was too much for a Barrie Redmond, who wrote to the editor of the Advertiser: "Shame on those in any form of media who say they are looking for divine intervention to prevent the English side from winning...It is yet another example of many Australians' unsportsmanlike attitude and behaviour these days." The sub-text is that Australia's cricketers are not liked by many Australians because they have cared too much about winning at all costs. This comes as a surprise, even to a hardened visitor.

Many times in the past 100 years, brilliant cricketers have been treated as icons of Australian identity. Only five years ago, their cricket team was built around four of the finest cricketers ever to have played the game. The baggy green caps they wore were symbols of a profound tradition. To add a further layer of meaning, Steve Waugh, Australia's captain, organised a detour to Gallipoli, where so many Australian and New Zealand soldiers died in 1915, on his team's journey to play in England a decade ago. Cricket and national pride were shown to be indistinguishable.

Not any more. One commentator in the Advertiser said that the team that lost in Adelaide was not the worst in history — "but close". References to smirking Poms were not unfriendly (after all, they had plenty to smirk about). There were three more Tests to be played after Adelaide but Australian commentators, like the TV audience, had decided, rightly or wrongly, that the jig was up. Besides, they have other things on their minds. The wealth of their mountains of iron ore and seams of coal, allied to China's insatiable demand for them, has transformed Australia into a prosperous society. Consumerism is the new variety of national identity. There are other ways of keeping the score — the interest rate on mortgages and house prices being the favourites. Australia's cricketers are symptoms of the change, and, perhaps, the victims of it. 

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Anonymous
November 19th, 2011
10:11 AM
The cities in Aust are NOT turning ASIAN. The white Australians INVITED the ASIANS here and imbued them with more rights that they have in their own countries and the issue of racism is dim - they have more rights here as an asian in Australia than Australians do in Asian countries. Racism is not an issue in Australia unless you are wanting more than the rest - then you pull out the racism tag and say SEE! Reverse the coin and send a white man to Asia to see the reality. Just such a dumb and untrue comment. While on this, the issue of Indians being prejudiced against because they got beaten up belies the reality, had they been native born whites they STILL would have got beaten up - because the people who beat them up were LOOKING to do it to whoever it was - it was NOT racist - it is nasty people V nice people - that exists ALL over the world, but a HARD TRUTHFUL look at other countries will see that the utter crap of the content posted by Elena Da Costa. Unargualbe statistcal truths, Australia = country with most assetts per capita. Austrlia = country with largest size of new homes being built ANY where in the world. Australia = Low unemployment. Australia = No th China when its is NOT in national interest. See recent visist by B O Bama. NO this country is an icon of democratic principals for ALL! Philippino workers on an oil rig of W AUST. A foreign oil rig in Aus waters. Inspectors landed and found the Phili guys had been not paid correctly, Govt sues the company, company has to back pay the phili workers. Govt taken to court, case is won against the Govt, Govt subjects it self to the rule of law against it. WHERE IN ASIA DOES THAT WORK ELENA??????????

Elena Da Costa
February 8th, 2011
12:02 PM
A superb item. Please remember that Australia has an underlying issue with racism and has been plagued with violence from refguee groups stemming from Afghanistan and Lebanon too. The poverty of the Aboriginal peoples is shocking. At the same time the crass materialism of the white Australians reminds me of what I have seen in part of England amongst the newly rich types. In the mean time Australia PLC is more or less in the pockets of China. The Chinese own the mines and are the biggest trading partner. The cities are turning Asian and we Asians keep Australia going economically and fuel the professions with new entrants. The image of Australia many British people have is a false one and need updating. I hope I have done that.

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