Here and there – Fallacies, fallibility, and hypocrisy in our psyche


On the day of the underarm bowling incident, I had worked hard all day.  My cab driver was full of shocked disbelief and disgust.  When he told me, I started laughing.  This upset him.  ‘What else do you expect when you sell your soul for lucre?’  Then The Age reported on one tight one-day game under the headline ‘Come on dollar, come on.’  Creighton Burns told me he feared that they might go under.  I can’t recall if the article quoted that great line from The Great Gatsby.

It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people – with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe.

As the smoke clears after the disaster at Cape Town, and as the pendulum swings back, we might reflect on two fallacies.  One is that sporting bodies can be run as a business in the same way that any business can be run.  That’s just wrong – for reasons that Donald Trump is finding out.  The other fallacy is that at the top professional level, people are playing games as part of a sport.  In some sense they are, but they are also leading figures in the entertainment industry, and that industry is a significant source of business for broadcasting and gaming companies.  The so-called players are as integral to the economy as widget-makers.  Hence their outrageous pay.

Next, with one possible exception, none of us is infallible.  We all make mistakes.  And thank God – the contrary is unthinkable automation.  Some of our wholly fallible young men in Cape Town made a big mistake.  They are paying a hideous price.

People say that the underarm job was lawful and that this case is worse.  I disagree.  I don’t think that you can measure moral culpability by degrees of lawfulness.  Our whole legal system is predicated on our capacity to review the ‘equity’ of the case.  If you break the rules, you face the sanctions imposed by the rules.  But if you evade the rules and by doing so you hurt the game, then in my view you are the more toxic and culpable agent.  It’s like tax evasion.  For that reason, I regard the conduct of Trevor Chappell and his brother, and that of Stuart Broad in refusing to walk, as doing a lot more harm to the game than the breach of the rules admitted in Cape Town.  For that reason too, I regard our young men as far less blameworthy.

Now for hypocrisy.  Let’s start with ‘we the people’.  We may be outraged, but we can’t say that we are surprised.  We tolerated a hopelessly outmoded administration – dominated by an old god with a gong – treating our champions as medieval serfs and making them ideal prey to Kerry Packer and the gods of television.  Then we supported those ludicrous pyjama games that have so debased our own coinage – and character.  Then we turned up to cheer an even sluttier version.  And for about a generation, we have sat idly by while a patently weak body, Cricket Australia, just allowed things to get worse and worse.  We should be ashamed of ourselves.  But, no, we had to have our ritual humiliation, and on Good Friday eve.

The hypocrisy of the ICC is unspeakable.  They are inept and bent.

Mr Sutherland’s position is untenable.  At its most polite, he has been standing too close to too many accidents.  He and the board are responsible, not just in the sense of being answerable, but because their failures of governance have led to this mess.  And the whole nation knows it.  If Mr Lehmann had to take responsibility, so must Mr Sutherland.

Then there are the corporates who talk about ‘core values’.  That is pure bullshit.  Did the CBA even have the gall to stick up its head?  People are already comparing our cricketers to our bankers.  The bankers committed their crimes over time, and directly for the thirty pieces of silver.  Will any of them be punished as hard as Steve Smith?  Not on your bloody Nelly, Mate.

As for the mockers elsewhere, do you really think that you are well placed to cast the first stone?  At least our boys came clean and are taking it down the front.  Your turn will surely come.

There is something very, very wrong when a good young man like Steve Smith must take all this pain, while those responsible walk free.  The whole body needs cleansing – the whole of it – and every player must have seared into his being the proposition that when he puts on that jumper, he stands in a position of trust to me because that jumper is mine.

And remember this.  Bodyline was lawful.  Who says that Smith is guiltier than Jardine?

Here and there – Dear Mr Sutherland,


Yesterday I sent an email to Cricket Australia:


At a bare minimum, Sutherland, Lehmann, Smith and Warner must be fired, and not just from their position in the case of the players, but from the team.  None of them is fit to wear or represent my colours.  Now in my 73rd year, I have never been so ashamed of my country.

Yours truly

Geoffrey Gibson

Here are my reasons for that call.

Sometimes people make mistakes and then their reaction shows that they were not up to the job.  That goes for you, Smith, Warner and Lehmann.

It also goes for the Prime Minister.  He said: ‘Our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair play.’  Each of those propositions is pure moonshine, and has been so for forty years – ever since Mr Packer started shelling out lucre to his hired darlings.  And he only got the chance because your predecessors treated our players like medieval serfs.  They sowed the wind.  Now you reap the whirlwind.  And what sane parents would want their children to model themselves on David Warner?

You should resign or be fired because you have presided over and are therefore responsible for the decline in standards in our national sport for nearly a generation.  Money – from Mr Packer and now India – has become king and you have allowed those who claim to represent us to be corrupted by it.  You have allowed the horses to take over the stable.  Your response yesterday was, I regret to say, wholly in character – vapid.  I also have no idea why you had to send two people to get the facts.  Do we send teams overseas without putting some reliable proconsul in charge of them?

Smith and Warner have admitted cheating.  They have brought disgrace upon the whole of my country.  Yet their callous arrogance and wilful inanity show just how poisoned our Test cricketers have become.  This disaster at Cape Town is just the final step in the process of corruption that started with Mr Packer and was perfected on the subcontinent – where these brats coin millions by moonlighting.  And there is more than a whiff of cowardice in their decision to deploy a young bunny and then say that it was the idea of the seasoned players.

Nor can I understand what logic would conclude that although the guilty parties may be entrusted with my colours as players, they should not be so trusted in a position of responsibility.  When they merely pull on my jumper, they take a position of mighty responsibility.  To give them some but not all trust would be like saying that a dope-cheat in cycling or weightlifting may be trusted after taking a holiday.  These cheats have forfeited their trust, and I will not give it back to them.  I will not support a side that has either of them in it in any capacity.

Lehmann should resign or be fired because he has been in charge of and therefore responsible for the morale and morals of our team over the period of its worst decline.  On this incident, he has the Volkswagen problem.  He either knew or he didn’t.  Either way, he’s gone.  For what it’s worth, it’s been a long time since I saw a man look so guilty.

We will need more than one generation to get over this.  I will be long gone.  I agree with Jeff Kennett.  ‘A disgrace of the first order. All involved should be banned from international cricket for life.  Australia’s sporting reputation demands immediate response from CA.’  Painful surgery is immediately required to start the process of healing.  If that means that we may field an inferior team, we have brought that on ourselves, and we will get the needed reminder that winning is not everything.  That attitude, and the dollar, are what have landed us in this very visible gutter.

And I have the clear view that nothing short of these sackings will serve to ease the outrage being felt across this nation.

Yours truly

Geoffrey Gibson



In a famous moment of cricket history, an Australian blasted the English by saying something to the effect that there were two teams out there and only one of them was playing cricket. There is a wide consensus that something similar occurred on Sunday in the World Cup Final. There were two teams out there, but only one side was playing like sportsmen.

The New Zealand team had a great cup and were worthy finalists. They were brilliantly led by Brendan McCullum, and Danny Vettori has about the most respected name in world cricket. These were just two of the champions that we abused in a shameful manner. Sadly, the worst offender was not the pin-up suburban lout David Warner, but Brad Haddin – who is old enough to know better. He was rocketing around in the face of the Blackcaps like an ourangatang with terminal piles. It was disgraceful behaviour that was saddening for Australians to watch – and not least because it was so unnecessary.

Brendan McCullum took out his grief at the death of Phillip Hughes with his bat. It was as if he had been inspired. He and Phillip Hughes showed the good side of cricket. We have now painted the textbook image of the bad side.

The poison of Indian money is now finding its triumph in crass Australian vulgarity. It is awful to behold and God only knows what effects all this will have on the nation’s children. These overpaid entertainers are not sportsmen at all. This is what we have to teach our children. These people are gladiators made and trained and kept for TV. They sit in their multimillion dollar harbourside residences and forget what it is like to be Australians much less sportsmen. Cricket Australia should be told that too many of us want nothing to do with them. If this is what it takes to win   a World Cup, I want none of it. They might well start with Boofhead whose tolerance of the boorish David Warner gives no reason for confidence.

There is in our argot a term for overpaid larrikins. It is Cashed Up Bogans. That is all that these twerps are, and we should send a note of apology across the Tasman. They do things better there – in both rugby and in cricket.

Speaking of bad sports, spare a thought for Ben McDevitt of ASADA. Having fought and lost a contest that has become another national disgrace, but made every day Christmas Day for the lawyers, Mr McDevitt spat the dummy once again and committed an act of murder on the English language. ‘What happened in Essendon in 2012 was, in my opinion, absolutely and utterly disgraceful.’ Why is that we pay a fortune to some public servants to spend a fortune of our money and transfer another fortune to the lawyers so that they can lose their wars and make fools of themselves, and then moralise at our expense?

And, yes, the date was 2012. I wrote the note underneath a year or two ago about that dreadful bullshit about a black day for Australian sport. It looks like the note was written before the last federal election. Since then, it looks like ASADA’s decline has matched that of our cricketers.



In the ‘Circumlocution Office,’ Charles Dickens savagely lampooned bureaucrats. Its sublime function was to show HOW NOT TO DO IT. Now we have the tragic Dickensian farce executed upon us by the AFL and ASADA in the sterile months following their stagey revelation of ‘the blackest day in Australian sport.’

Journalists just love ‘the AFL drugs scandal.’ What scandal?   No one has been charged with breaking the law. No one has even been charged with breaking a rule. There is no charge, and, we infer, no evidence, that any team cheated by obtaining an unfair advantage. There is no evidence that any player suffered harm. There is therefore no scandal – except the Great Vegemite Scandal – how much Vegemite did those flighty Bombers put on their WeetBix?

The only scandal is that confected by the AFL and ASADA by childlike mismanagement and flood-level leakage through tame conduits. They, not Essendon, have trashed all Australian sport. They have harmed sport more than dirty money, botched television interference, the ridiculing of umpires, and screechingly vulgar and corrupting bookies.

The AFL’s first mistake was to get into bed with ASADA. Can you imagine BHP ‘outsourcing’ its ‘governance’, fancy talk for management, on corruption to ASIC? This will remain a classic MBA study in corporate balls-ups for generations.

ASADA take too long. They proceed in secret. They follow the path of the Inquisition. They do not announce their results but clothe them in dark secrecy. Then, when they fail – miserably – to live up to their own political grandstanding, they refuse to take their medicine. They just sulk. They resemble philosophers – blind men in a dark room looking for an absent black cat. Can you think of a better recipe to bring the house down? No one I know has any faith left in either the AFL or ASADA. No one.

ASADA is not made of real coppers. Imagine this. The Fraud Squad gets headlines internationally by saying that there is rampant dishonesty in, say, Myers. After six months’ agony for Myers, the Police say: ‘No one will be charged under the law, but you cannot say that we drew a blank, because this report is just interim, Mate: we could be here for bloody years – and we are handing over a huge dossier of secret nothings so that Myers can nail its own for breaching its Code of Conduct. So, there!’

It is beyond argument that the AFL and ASADA have brought AFL football into disrepute – they jointly blacked football and now they cannot back it up. The AFL blacked itself. They are paradigm scandal-mongers, little boys playing with matches, and caught calling Wolf. AFL, this is your scandal. Will they, then, apologise to Essendon – and to us? Not on your Nelly, Mate.

Now, when Essendon and its people are cleared by ASADA, the AFL charges them with the crime of which they, the AFL, stand guilty. This is Monty Python but it is not funny – real people are getting badly hurt by this arrogant exercise in revenge driven by hellish pride.

James Hird is one of best footballers we have seen. He had silky grace and frightening courage. He is also a gentleman. If the AFL were international, Hird would have captained our colours with the full faith and credit of the entire nation. Hird towers above the gnats who now nag him. Who has a good memory of Fitzpatrick or Demetriou in football?

What, then, have we done for James Hird? We have trashed him and bashed him for month after bloody month in a witch-hunt that has become a pogrom. As ever, in this country, mediocrity lashes back.

I am as an Australian appalled and ashamed at what we have done. It just makes it so much worse that the ‘offence’ of which the AFL is guilty and with which James Hird is now charged – ‘bringing disrepute’ or ‘conduct prejudicial’ – is the last resort of the military and the first resort of the fascist.

‘To none will we sell, to none will we deny or delay right or justice.’ Can you imagine a worse denial of due process? ‘No free man is to be taken except by a lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land….nor will we go or send against him.’ The AFL and ASADA and their Myrmidons have gone and sent against the people of Essendon like bad losers intent on giving us all a frightening reminder that all power corrupts. They have done so with all the charm of feudal barons or Mafia dons. The dooms that they have been leaking out remind us that Shostakovich once picked up Pravda and read that ‘this affair could end badly’ – he knew it was written by Stalin

Well, there is nothing new in the bureaucracy being stupid or in the AFL being a bully. Our Circumlocution Office has given taxpayers 404 pages of secret zeroes – HOW NOT TO DO IT. The AFL is tearing itself apart. We Australians have been badly let down and affronted by people who should know better.

This squalid little vendetta should come before somebody who understands due process. The notion that the AFL might sit in judgment on itself is plain silly. They are not just an eminence grise – they are the instigating Inquisitor, prosecutor, star witness, and prime suspect. Neither they, nor Egypt’s army, can just wish away a state of war. And how can footy be good for kids if those running it cannot comprehend a ‘fair go’?

Everyone – everyone – is just sick of all this dark nastiness. The AFL is plainly too big for its boots. The Commission has trashed its own brand and lost the confidence of the community. It should therefore resign. Australians need a Commission untainted by this circus. ASADA should be abolished by statute. The next government could then seek to resurrect Australian sport.