World champions Australia should not wonder why they are also despised by many, writes Michael Jeh
Brisbane: "You know what? They deserved it." Was Brad Haddin talking about cricket's new world champions and their clinical dissemination of New Zealand? Was he wondering why so few people have a genuine love for the Australian cricket team, despite clearly being the best-drilled outfit in the world?
New Zealand batsman Grant Elliott (left) gets mocked by Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and bowler James Faulkner after being dismissed for 83 runs in Sunday's World Cup final at Melbourne. Substitute Pat Cummins is on the right. Pic:AP/PTI
Was he referring to the fact that yesterday's newspaper headlines in Australia were all about the sledging and the alcohol-induced hangovers rather than the brilliant catch he took to swing the match decisively in Australia's favour?
In fact, he was actually passing comment on why this charmless bunch of bullies, lacking in grace and humility, replete with skill to burn, felt the need to give the Kiwi batsmen a 'send-off'. What was Martin Guptill and Grant Elliott's crime? They turned up to play a game of cricket and they tried their best. For that, they apparently deserved to cop a cowardly send-off.
He went further by revealing what those nasty NZ boys had done to deserve his foul-mouthed spray. "They were that nice to us in New Zealand and we were that uncomfortable," Haddin said.
Beer is poured on the World Cup trophy by an Australian team member in the dressing room on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
"I said in the team meeting: 'I can't stand for this anymore, we're going at them as hard as we can.' "It was that uncomfortable. All they were was that nice to us for seven days. I said, 'I'm not playing cricket like this. If we get another crack at these guys in the final I'm letting everything (out).' "
So there we have it then. For goodness sake, whatever you do, don't be nice to an Australian cricketer. He's likely to view that as a call to arms, an insult that can only be avenged with invective and vitriol. And they wonder why all the 'neutrals' cheer their own team and anyone that is playing Australia!
In Australian cricket, they have always spoken proudly of it being a man's game, a tough game, a hard game. How tough? How macho? When somebody is dismissed and their innings is over, give them a send-off. They are so tough that they pick their targets carefully. Despite hiding behind excuses like "heat of the moment" and "frustration", they always managed to steer clear of abusing Brian Lara or Sachin Tendulkar. Clearly, neither player ever frustrated them!
The post-match interviews and celebrations did nothing to help rebuild the image of this brilliant, unlovable and arrogant team. Shane Warne's post-match interview was schoolboy stuff, repeatedly asking them about the inevitable binge-drinking session that was to follow.
Just what our young children needed to hear from their heroes...repeated references to getting "pi**ed". The captain told a huge crowd in Melbourne that he was hungover. Apparently the coach was spooning the World Cup and couldn't speak whilst James Faulkner was naked but Josh Hazlewood was a nightmare because he wouldn't get drunk.
That's what we got from the senior statesman of the Australian cricket team, the world champions, the heroes to so many young, impressionable children. Gibberish. Foul language. Drunks.
Alcohol kills 15 Australians a day. Haddin doesn't care. They probably deserved it! They keep invoking the spirit of poor old Phillip Hughes. What spirit? The alcoholic stuff you mean? The one that abuses a batsman when he is down and out? Imagine the reaction if someone had given Hughes a send-off when he was felled? Mock outrage would have flowed as freely as the tears for their "brother".
Let the poor boy rest in peace for goodness sake. His memory does not need to be linked to these charmless gorms who have not the foggiest idea of what it takes to win (or lose) with grace.
Australia are world champions. They deserved it. They should not wonder why they are also despised by many. They deserve it. One team won the World Cup, the other merely played cricket. There's a world of difference. You know what New Zealand? You deserve it.
Michael Jeh is a Brisbane-based former first-class player