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South African sledge a tumour on the body of cricket

The South Africans?

Fine people. Decent people. People with a tradition of the spirit of cricket in their very bones. In the vast majority, they get it.

But they, like us, have a tiny minority who are to the spirit of cricket what a tumour is to an otherwise healthy body.

A case in point is those South African cricket fans wearing Sonny Bill Williams masks, referencing an alleged sexual escapade of the wives of one of the players, long ago, years before she was married, as if it is anyone’s damn business in the first place. 

The idea is to upset the Australian player in question, while they presumably roll about laughing.

Geddit? Geddit? GEDDIT? No, me neither.

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They have no care for her, no care for him, no care for their children, no care for the spirit of cricket, nothing.

So, could anything be more appalling?

Yes. That would be for South African cricket officials, who should be better than that, to join in the “joke,” to think its funny, to pose for photos with those wearing the masks.

Do they have rocks in their head? What were they thinking?

So is Australia blameless in the whole piece? No, we bloody well are not.

Because when they hold the World Sledging Olympics, we could send our cricket team, and very likely win “Gold, Gold, Gold for Australia”. We more or less invented the sport nigh on 50 years ago, we’ve refined it over the years, we know all the angles – delighting in making those angles ever sharper – and have used it to our advantage to win matches. And never mind how we bloody well did it, we won, so what do we care?

The whole thing has got so out of hand it has become a toxic boomerang, continually hitting us in the back of the head, damaging our good name around the world.

The way forward then, for us and South Africa?

It is for the captain of the South African cricket team, Faf Du Plessis, and their acting chief executive Thabang Moroe , to say to their fans: “Stop these masks, stop these chants, stop this nonsense. You embarrass our fine country.”

It is for our captain, Stephen Smith, and our CEO, James Sutherland to read the riot act to our blokes, in terms they can understand, starting with, “Everyone, shut the f—k up. No more sledging anyone. We are embarrassing our fine country.”

It is for everyone, on both sides to come together, and embrace one central idea: “We are playing cricket. It is a game. It is a Test of our cricket-playing ability, our character, our will to win, against theirs. That’s it. Let’s play. May the best team win. And all those who don’t get it, who think it is to do with sledging sludge, can get off at the next station. Anything else, is just not cricket.”

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz