Tuesday, August 25, 2009

 

Those Aussies We Love to Hate, We Come To Love

Following up my post of yesterday I have to say a word in support of the encomium given in the Guardian to the Australian captain today. I have not always agreed with this view; in 2005 I joined the catcalls against his alleged lack of sportsmanship when he was famously run out by Gary Pratt and I was not unhappy to see him bloodied at Lords in 2005 or indeed at the Oval, more recently. He epitomises the 'to the death' Australian attitude to sport and cricket in particular. He gives no quarter and he expects none.

But his comments in the aftermath of defeat are invariably generous and as sporting as any Brit. He is also his country's highest scoring batsman and it was a tribute to his immense ability that Flintoff's wonderful throw to run him out was generally seen by the full-house Oval crowd as the moment when the Ashes had returned to these shores. We 'hate' him only because he is the best. I wouldn't have it any other way.

However, something oddly transformative happens when great Ausatralian cricketers retire and gravitate towards the media. We've seen it with th Chappels and more recently with this series. Shane Warne has emerged as a hugely likeable and perceptive television commentator and someone I personally abominated- Mathew Hayden- tunred out to be totally charming and a pleasure to listen to on TMS. Perceptions forged in the heat of battle rarely survive the closer inspection which work in the media provides.

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