The moment of truth has arrived for Cricket Australia, its board and all the players under it.
The entire cricket culture of Australia has been laid bare by two reports which tore into the entire cricket setup and came to conclusions which did not make pretty reading.
It said that Cricket Australia (CA), in its pursuit for money, had forgotten the “Spirit of Cricket” and was now paying the price.
The high-handedness and arrogance with which they dealt with other boards, broadcasters and sponsors had turned CA into an arrogant and bullying body, it said.
The players also became part of this mantra – win at all costs, everything else be damned. A sense of false nationalism was also inculcated.
The “How We Play” section clearly underlines the fact that “win at all costs” was what mattered. It included “command and control; individual first; Australia needs us to win; popularity matters; combativeness and aggression is good; unleash the beast”, among others.
What becomes apparent with this indictment is that the ball tampering event in South Africa was not a one-off incident but very much expected.
Arrogance breeds contempt and Australian cricket had go too far in that direction. It became worse recently as respect for the opposition or umpires were replaced by bullying tactics under the guise of aggressiveness.
The air of superiority often made the team unpopular but they did come up with impressive results and got bolder by the day.
Former captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were only victims of a system set by CA. That made them bold enough to try the ball-tampering is such a crude manner.
It’s not only the Big Boys but even players at the lower level indulge in sledging, walking off the flied and other nefarious activities.
Cricket is just a game, after all. Growing professionalism has changed attitudes of players at all levels as it is now become a matter of earning. But that does not give them freedom to break the Spirit of Cricket. They can stretch it a bit but there has to be a full stop somewhere.
The Australians have been badly shamed and it will take them a long time to get out of this. It has permeated into the system like some poison and it will not be easy to remove it.
But effort must be made right now. Australian cricket has a glorious past and that cannot be sacrificed for five pieces of silver. Australia’s indifferent record in the recent past will give them a good springboard to change their attitude.
Reforms must be initiated immediately and remedial action by the board and the players must be put in place.
The next Ashes, which will take place next year, will be a good testing ground for a new Australia has to emerge.
In Justine Langer they have a coach who sees beyond the system. However, Australia will face an uphill battle to set things right as there are many stumbling blocks on the road ahead.
The Spirit of Cricket is what keeps the game alive. If it is to be sacrificed at the altar of greed, then cricket grounds all over the world will become a Battleground for the Depraved.
#All views expressed in this column are the authors and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.