Sorry for my lack of empathy with this, but in the grand scheme of cricket’s current miasma, Friday’s revelation from Down Under – that an ordinary cricketer has proven himself, to use the Australian language, to be an ordinary guy – does not exactly move the needle.
However, it has shifted the sporting narrative.
Now, however, the clock is ticking and the world is watching, and the government’s declared “nuclear option” of appointing an independent regulator is one of many reasons why Tom Harrison and his like-minded people will have to go from soundbites to actions in double- quick time
Damage joy? You bet! But it’s also a warning, in the midst of English cricket’s own and ever-evolving bill, that some problems simply cannot be wiped away – “kicked into the long grass”, as Nigel Huddlestone, the British sports minister, said of the racism scandal – or did better from one day to the next with a little elite sloganing and a few well-timed crocodile tears.
For here we have, on either side of the globe, but essentially hand in hand (considering that the ashes are basically a sibling quarrel that could be played out just as effectively during a lifetime of Christmas dinners), two faces of exactly the same coin. Two deeply rooted sports cultures that, for very different but equally seismic reasons, have had reason in their recent history for deep and urgent introspection.
And yet … is it strange to point out that there is a gravitas to England’s ongoing scandal that is making Australia – once again narrowly due to a reliance on moral trivialities – look decidedly superficial?
First ball game, now a rough text exchange. If it is these issues that the nation’s cautious guardians are screaming at DEFCON 1, lobbing crying athletes like shrimp off on a moral barbie, then good luck to anyone who dares to penetrate this human shield and perform that kind of systemic autopsy , which the ECB appears to be preparing now.
You’re right. It’s nothing to shout about. It is not as if the unfolding crisis of England has been taken on intentionally, or with any thanks at all because of the administrative melee whose lack of proactivity has enabled even Boris Johnson’s corrupt government to take it moral climax.
“I’m deeply saddened that my past behavior has affected our play on the threshold of the ashes”
Paine’s humiliation speaks to a culture of superficiality, a culture that still seeks to protect at all costs the sacred notion of “Australianism”, for fear of one day revealing the same rotten core that the ECB now has to publicly face. fight with.
This scandal is about a system that has made discrimination of all types endemic, and then tried everything it could to cover it up. To claim, as carpet bakers like Nigel Farage have tried, that Rafiq’s own mistakes invalidate his now widely acknowledged complaints is a gross distortion of facts.
The question that arises, therefore, is whether the ECB is at a distance able to “put its house in order,” as Huddlestone rather pompously put it at the DCMS hearing on Thursday?
The early signs, it must be said, have not been entirely convincing. On Friday, all 41 members of the ECB Board met at the Kia Oval to consider English cricket’s overall response to the crisis. After much grunting and moaning, a deeply foolish statement emerged, shortly before noon.
Further details have since emerged, including a 12-point action plan with EDI initiatives at its core, but that was precisely the kind of gesture-political filth that Rafiq had warned the board not to stick to during his DCMS performance. “We need organic change,” Rafiq had told the committee. “If tokenism is the angle at which the ECB is going down, I would call it quits.”
Now, however, the clock is ticking and the world is watching, and the government’s declared “nuclear option” of appointing an independent regulator is one of many reasons why Harrison and his like-minded people will have to go from soundbites to double-speed actions. time.
Nothing in this sad saga offers an easy path to a better future. But the least that can now be said is that English cricket knows which stones to look under, as opposed to which empty shells to build on.
Andrew Miller is the UK Editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket