Friday, 11 March 2011

Of Angels and Demons

To some South Africans, criticism of Springbok players is close to blasphemy.  This week’s blog stirred up a veritable hornets’ nest over at, where a link to this site had been placed. Many negative and often personal criticisms were spat back at the “Saffa-hating” “tosser” who authors this dispatch.

Tosser I may well be,  but I can tell you, dear readers,  that Saffa-hater I am not. I have many wonderful South African friends and colleagues. But, unlike my accusers, I am not so nationalistic that I cannot accept criticism of the behavior of my country’s sportsmen.

The Australian cricket team of the 90’s was one of the greatest ever, but I was often ashamed of their offensive on-field conduct. The sight in 2003 of half-starved Bangladeshi test players, so bright-eyed and excited to be visiting our great country for the first time, only to be shamelessly sledged by the arrogant Australian cricket team filled me with disgust.

Steve Waugh was one of Australia’s greatest batsmen, but I was appalled by the strategy he described as “mental disintegration”, seen at its worst in the infamous “choo-choo” sledge directed at Chris Cairns in 1993.

The final straw came in the 2008 Sydney Test between Australia and India, after which many Australians, led by a damning newspaper article from Peter Roebuck, finally spoke up and said we’ve had enough of this behaviour.

If you Google the names du Plessis, Burger, or Bakkies Botha, followed by the words “dirty player”, you’ll get many pages of results. The majority of the condemnations found on those pages have come from South Africans themselves.

But dirty Wallaby players? I cannot think of a single one.

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