Michael Clarke has decided that a series of sarcastic homophobic jokes is the best way to divert allegations of disharmony within the Australian team. As you do.
The Australian skipper has provided a “hilarious insiders review” of the Australian XI at a pre-Lord’s test match function, according to Fox Sports. It says that Clarke’s “beauty pageant-style” review of his team-mates “was received with cheers and applause from the largely ex-pat Aussie community as well as British dignitaries who recognised the need for the address to lift the mood with the Arthur controversy just breaking late in the UK hours earlier.”
Enough of this sycophantic drivel, Fox Sports.
The Public Apology has seen the “jokes” that left the crowd “in stitches,” and they are the usual assortment of in-jokes and low-brow homophobic references you’d expect from a professional athlete who spends a considerable amount of time in the company of his male team-mates. Some of the highlights include:
Chris Rogers – “Chris is our team nerd, he enjoys long walks on the beach, coffee movies and dancing (pause) – on his own.”
Shane Watson – “We call Shane Mr Guitar Hero because everytime you are walking down the corridors of your room he’s always on his guitar. One thing you don’t know about Shane is one day he is a cricketer but tomorrow he could be in The Rolling Stones.”
Ed Cowan – “Mr Eduardo Cowan is certainly one of a kind to say the least, he enjoys picnics in the park (pause) with his male friends.”
James Pattinson – “If James could take one thing to a deserted island he would definitely take his mirror.”
Nathan Lyon – “He is in love with Brad Haddin and was a state netballer in school.”
Athletes – footballers, in particular – have a long-held affinity for homophobia. These are the same guys who whip each other with wet towels in the sheds after showering together, while secretly concealing their hard-ons. But that’s not gay at all because it’s all in good fun, isn’t it? They go to the gym together, get tattoos together, and on more frivolous occasions will engage in acts of group sex together, ala the Cronulla Sharks controversy, which occurred over a decade ago (although the details only emerged in 2009).
But I always thought that cricketers were different to other athletes, for the most part. They’re bitchier, insecure, conniving, and more prone to bouts of existentialism. It’s a less macho sport in that there are no high tackles and shoulder charges; passive aggressive mind games and concentration are the order of the day. A cricketer’s season is defined by peaks and troughs of form; one bad LBW decision and they’re questioning their technique in the dressing-room, fearful their position in the team is on the line. And this is perfectly normal human behaviour, for the most part.
But Clarke’s attempt at humour has shown that, actually, professional cricketers are no different to your average NRL team. Years of sharing dressing-rooms, showers, and women, have taken their toll. Ed Cowan’s intellectualism and Nathan Lyon/Chris Rogers’ bookish appearances are obviously evidence of their gayness; their individuality is not embraced but viewed with skepticism.
In the last few days, we’ve witnessed English player Stuart Broad fail to “walk” when it was blatantly obvious that he had edged the ball; a move that was viewed by many as anathema to the game’s gentlemanly roots. But in this modern dog-eat-dog era, Broad was within his rights to stand his ground. It is blatantly clear, therefore, that the etiquette chasm that once existed between cricketers and footballers has narrowed considerably.
It’s entirely possible that I’m drawing too long a bow here, but perhaps it’s time to accept that cricketers are just like any other boorish professional athlete, and treat them as such. Lower your expectations of cricketers and they might surprise you every now and then.
By Dave Edwards