Warning: this post contains references to an archaic and almost unwatchable game still played by a few British Commonwealth nations.
Cricket. It’s like baseball, but on valium. It’s slow. It’s boring. And no one outside England and a few of her former colonial outposts play it. But it’s come to epitomize the best of British values like tradition, gentility, and insouciance.
Cricketers use quaint terms like tally-ho, and pucka, and huzzah. Okay, I made that bit up. But they should.
And so it pains me as an Australian to admit that this great and ancient game has been brought into disrepute by my own countrymen. While playing our fellow former colonial outpost, South Africa, the Australian cricket team has been caught ball tampering.
I know the term ball tampering doesn’t sound like the worst crime in the world. In fact, it sounds a bit comical. And I don’t fully understand it myself, but apparently you can fiddle with the ball in such a way as to make it fly at the batter in less predictable ways. And in the world of cricket, it is a complete no-no. The rules state:
“The Laws of Cricket allow for manipulation of the ball to some degree, but there is a definite line that must not be crossed. A match ball may be polished, providing an artificial substance is not used. A wet ball may be dried with a towel and on rare occasions, mud is allowed to be removed under supervision. Any other action which changes the condition of the ball is illegal.”
The Aussies got caught scoring or scratching one side of the ball to make it spin ever so slightly differently in the air. I don’t get it. I don’t care. But the cricketing world is in uproar.
The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull expressed the true gravity of this world-shattering news when he announced that all Australians were right to be “shocked and bitterly disappointed.”
“It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating. After all, our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair play. How can our team be engaged in cheating like this? It beggars belief,” the Prime Minister gasped.
Remember, this is the Prime Minister who has overseen an immigration policy that the United Nations has referred to as “punitive,” and an “ugly chapter” in a history of “abuse”.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has openly rebuked Australia for its treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.
But this Prime Minister wants to lecture us about fair play!
This Prime Minister is shocked and bitterly disappointed at cricketers messing with their ball, but is apparently perfectly at ease with a set of policies that recently led a 10-year-old asylum seeker on Nauru to attempt suicide three times, after first expressing suicidal ideation at the age of 6!
This Prime Minister thinks that ball meddling beggars belief, but has no problem with cutting social security payments and support services to 15,000 asylum seekers currently living in Australia.
Yes, that’s right. Currently, those asylum seekers who have made it to our shores receive a paltry $247 per week, plus access to casework support, assistance in finding housing, and access to torture and trauma counselling while waiting for a decision about their claim for protection. Our Prime Minister, who seems to be so concerned about “fair play” is about to cut these benefits.
If our Prime Minister was genuinely concerned about fair play he wouldn’t have scotched New Zealand’s offer to repatriate the asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru and instead continued to submit them to cruel and unusual punishment for daring to arrive on our shores by boat.
What actually beggars belief is the faux outrage being expressed by news outlets and across social media about something as trivial as ball tampering, while the plight of Australia’s asylum seekers and refugees barely warrants a raised eyebrow.
I was recently speaking at an event in the United States when the topic of my involvement in protesting my government’s immigration policy came up. Curious Americans began questioning me about how Australia treats refugees. As I told them about mandatory detention, off-shore processing, limitless incarceration, suicidal children, broken families, deaths in custody, and billions in wasted dollars, they slowly fell silent. And when I told them the offer by the New Zealand government was rejected, they gasped audibly.
This whole farce literally beggars belief.
Mr Turnbull, can you stop pretending you care about fair play, and the rule of law, and justice for all, when clearly you don’t. Your outrage at ball tampering only highlights the viciousness of your treatment of refugees and their families by comparison.