Aussie victory in the Cricket World Cup – at a cost

Greg Baum in the SMH today

Cocooned in sycophancy, the Australians seem not to grasp nor care how poorly this behaviour sits with the other half of a cricket-following public they repeatedly and ever more deeply divide, even in their finest hours.

They also do not seem to care or grasp how it rankles with opponents, and how insufferably arrogant it makes them look. Do they really think they are the only country that plays with passion and pride? Do they think they patented the will to win? Do they think they have cornered the market in competitiveness?

The Aussie attitudes on the cricket field are exactly why I can’t support them in a neutral match, despite having grown up in Australia and taking equal pride in the country’s efforts in other sporting endeavours. Perhaps it is because in so many other sports, the Aussies are the underdogs or at best equally matched by others in the world – while in cricket, their consistent form and distance from the rest of the pack make them arrogant in a way they don’t reveal elsewhere, or maybe it is something specific to the culture of the current team.

When you’re missing respect for an opponent, you find it easy to gloat, not just revel in a victory, and it reveals an ugly side to the players that leads to neutrals being turned away from anything but begrudging admiration for skills.

Enough has been said about the Aussies attitudes in the aftermath of previous matches and this tournament that I hope Cricket Australia and the team management take notice – boorish players such as those lead to a disengagement in the community, and that will invariably lead to lower crowds and lower participation in the long run.

(not even touching the booze-filled aftermath, though I’d make a point of comparisons with AFL and NRL grand final winners and the attitudes and outcomes they had at the end of their matches, and leave it at that.)

Internal Realism

Alva Noe on the tricky issue of umpiring (in this case, for baseball):

External Realism does a good job accounting for the fact that we all recognize that there are “bad calls” and the fact that dispute and controversy seem to be an ever-present part of the game. Because there are real facts of the matter about what happened, it makes good sense that we reckon umpires can be wrong. In comparison, Internal Anti-Realism seems helpless to make sense of this. If what an umpire says goes, then how can we even take seriously the idea that an umpire might be wrong?

But Internal Anti-Realism gets something right, too. Baseball facts are not physics.

What interests us is whether players succeed or fail, whether they achieve or get lucky. The judgment that a ball is a strike is, really, the judgment that a pitcher delivered a a pitch that the batter ought to have hit. This is not so much a judgment about where the pitch was located, as it is a judgment about whether the pitcher or the batter deserves credit.

It’s a short enough argument that I could almost post the whole thing here, but the point rings true for the controversy over the Umpire Decision Review System (and Hawkeye and Hotspot and so on) in cricket: namely, that these are all “External Realist” approaches, taking us away from the game and interpreting its rules in an overly legalistic point of view. LBW decisions should be about when the batter isn’t offering a shot at a ball that could in other circumstances hit the wicket – not whether the ball, continuing in projected virtual space, would have brushed the leg stump by a millimetre and possibly disturbed a bail sufficient to be counted as a wicket.

These things are taken entirely too seriously, and the pressure on the umpires is getting to the point where they’re going to give up and ask for robotic replacements. The article continues:

Last season Armando Galarraga was an out away from pitching a rare perfect game, a game in which he allowed no opposing runner to reach base. A “bad call” at first base by umpire James Joyce robbed him of his deserved glory. Joyce admitted this after the game and, in a wildly unprecedented move, he apologized to Galarraga. The latter accepted the apology with grace and humility and is reported to have said: “Nobody’s perfect.”

Unsporting should be un-Australian

Not for the Australian cricket team, not yet.

The incident: A. B. de Villiers, third ball of the second over, Australia v South Africa, 20-20 match, gets a Tait special in his gut, edging off his bat. In pain, he keels over and inadvertantly hits the stumps, out hit-wicket.

The man is doubled over in pain on the grass, and the Australian team? Celebrating away, meters from the man.

This is an image that will linger in my mind for a while yet – that the disgusting sporting behaviour continues, that not a man on the Australian team took a second to ask that de Villiers was ok.

Disgusting.