There will be plenty of 'heat' for Team India this Australian summer

Updated: Sep 25, 2018, 20:26 IST | Michael Jeh |

Australian players and spectators will soon forget the tears of Sandpapergate in SA and it will be business as usual, replete with ugly clashes against India

India skipper Virat Kohli will face no shortage of aggression in Australia
India skipper Virat Kohli will face no shortage of aggression in Australia

The danger for India this summer is that they may now have swallowed the Australian way. And if the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is played with that mindset, it will return to the ugliness that us junior coaches are trying so hard to stamp out.

Virat Kohli's genius can sometimes be dulled by the dark clouds that furrow his brow. In England recently, he looked like an angry man, prowling, growling and looking for a fight. If he confuses that with his batting skill, he is underselling himself. The results speak for themselves — for all India's bristling aggression, it still comes down to playing more skilful cricket in foreign conditions.

Kohli may feed off the aggro to motivate himself. Even that is debatable. A good leg-cutter on a seaming pitch will still account for him first ball regardless of how angry he is. In fact, it may even contribute to his hard hands flashing at a ball that may be best left alone. But more importantly, the rest of the Indian team, even though they no longer see themselves as timid, will be scorched by any fires that Kohli or Ravi Shastri light.

Australia, players and spectators alike, will soon forget the tears of South Africa and it will be business as usual, replete with personal and ugly confrontations. It is in the DNA and will take more than a Cultural Review by The Ethics Centre to fix. It will take at least a generation before the current junior cricketers come through the ranks. And even that is no guarantee. Some habits die hard.

Can it be nice and quiet?
India's visit to Australia this summer has all the ingredients of a thrilling contest, but I fear the worst unless players and administrators genuinely buy into the need for change. Neither country, at Board level or on the field, appear capable of viewing ethical behaviour in a deep spiritual sense. The common view amongst the peasants who toil at the coalface of junior cricket is that for all the talk, nothing much will change at the top.

The events leading up to South Africa were encouraged and then the Super Sport cameras captured the evidence of a rotten culture that was no secret to anybody inside the tent. Will the blue sky that I'm seeing at lower levels take root in baggy green pastures? History has conditioned us against being too optimistic.

Here's why: November 2014 will always mark Phil Hughes's tragic passing, a watershed moment that had many of his best mates promising that they would change the way they played the game. Warner was amongst the most public of those figures dedicating every landmark to his mate up in the clouds. And yet, only a few weeks later, just before the World Cup in 2015, Moeen recounts encountering the same team who were back to their old ways, "not just going hard at you, they were almost abusing you."

Cultural change
Tears and remorse alone don't guarantee a culture change. We saw that after the Phil Hughes tragedy. Where is the evidence to suggest that the tears of Steven Smith, Darren Lehmann and Warner will be an enduring game-changer? They may well be genuinely contrite but if history is any judge, it is unlikely to result in deep cultural change. The general feeling is that they're not sorry. They're just sorry they got caught.

Michael Jeh is a Brisbane-based former first-class player

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