The footy season is over, so Australian sports fans are turning their attention to the upcoming summer of cricket and the Ashes.
For many fans the Ashes is the most important cricket there is. We love the rivalry, the history, the drama, the excitement and even the Barmy Army, but most importantly we love beating those whinging Poms.
However, the build-up to this year’s Ashes series has been very underwhelming, with many Aussie fans shaking their heads with disappointment over our current cricketing heroes.Embed from Getty Images
Starting with the team’s inability to perform on the subcontinent on turning tracks, including heavy losses to India and Sri Lanka and our first ever Test defeat to Bangladesh.
Then there was the lengthy pay dispute, which was nothing short of a public relations disaster with the boycott of Australia As tour to South Africa and players threatening to boycott the Ashes and make a living by playing in T20 competitions around the world unless their pay demands were met.
Despite the fact the eventual new pay deal was a triumph for Australia’s cricketers, including our female players, state players and grassroots, the dispute was very poorly handled by both sides. Many fans turned to social media to express their anger with the entire process.
The pay dispute highlighted the salaries of our top cricket stars, and for most fans those performances on the subcontinent came under the microscope – and the first Test loss to ninth-ranked Bangladesh was the breaking point. It was inevitable that fans were going to criticise player salaries based on their performances.
Social media turned into a firestorm, with fans referring to our cricketers as ‘arrogant’, ‘underperforming’, ‘overpaid’, and ‘pampered prima donnas’, which was probably the least hostile of criticisms. Players such as Matthew Wade, the Marsh brothers and Glen Maxwell have copped the brunt of the savage criticism for substandard performances.
The pay dispute and players salaries will continue to be at the back of the fans’ minds for a long time to come, and every poor performance by individual and team will continue to be met with the same criticism.Embed from Getty Images
So have we lost our love for Australian cricket team?
Australia was blessed with a golden age of continued success from 1995 to 2007, and it’s probably fair to say that the fans expectations of the national team have been as high ever since.
We worshipped the Waugh brothers, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Michael Hussey and the rest.
We were obsessed with cult figures like Andrew Symonds, Brad Hogg and Colin Miller, who perhaps weren’t as talented as the top guys but who always gave 110 per cent and wore the baggy green with just as much passion as any player before them.
There was always a great sense of arrogance among those Aussie cricketers of yesteryear, but they were always able to back it up with good performances and positive results. Everyone knew how much the baggy green meant to those players.
Our current players are notorious for their arrogance and brutal on-field sledging, just as their predecessors were, but have been unable to back it up with positive results, and that doesn’t sit well with many fans. The fan perception of our current players is they take the baggy green for granted and lack pride and humility.
The Ashes couldn’t have come at a better time for the players, and hopefully they’ll be more hungry, more determined and more focused than ever before. They owe that to us fans just as much as they owe it to themselves.
There’s no doubt we will sell out our cricket grounds, apply the green and gold face paint, grab a couple of cold beers and a meat pie, sing ‘Come on Aussie, come on’ and cheer on the lads this Ashes series, but we won’t accept any result other than beating those whinging Poms and the Ashes returning to Australia.
Featured Image by NAPARAZZI