Paine's "nice losers" even worse than Smith's "ball-tamperers" after Trent Bridge slaughter

Alex Broun 11:59 20/06/2018
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Australia's ODI team is on the nose

Well, that was embarrassing.

As an occasionally proud Australian I’m not sure what is worse – going through the whole ball tampering scandal in Cape Town or sitting through the fiasco masquerading as our one day cricket team currently attempting to tour England.

The latest ignominy was suffered on Tuesday as those good old boys from the MCC thrashed, hammered, decimated, skewered… actually they don’t have a word for what was done to Australia in Nottingham – as England cantered to a 242 run victory.

Yes – that’s right. There isn’t an extra digit that has accidentally crept in there – Tim Paine’s brave band of brothers got quartered by 242 runs. It was Australia’s biggest ODI loss – ever.

Most teams don’t even score 242 runs in a ODI game but that’s how much Australia lost by – that’s almost 5 runs an over that England were the better team.

But that’s not the worse part, to set-up this one-sided victory England scored – wait for it – 481 for 6 when it was there turn with the willow.

That’s a world record by a staggering 37 runs, beating their own 444 for 3 set against Pakistan at the same ground in 2016.

Some people have incorrectly described the wicket as ‘flat’. It wasn’t too flat when Australia began their ‘chase’ and were skittled for 239 in 37 overs, with the top score Travis Head’s 51.

That knock would have barely rated a mention in the England batting order with Alex Hales compiling a spritely 147 (off 92 balls), Jonny Bairstow taking the same amount of balls to score a brisk 139, Jason Roy (who looked probably the best of England’s bats) with 82 off 61 before he was stupidly run out and captain Eoin Morgan with 67 off 30 at the end, helping push the score up to the 500 mark.

The cream of Australia’s bowlers was Jye Richardson who took three wickets for 92 off his ten overs while Andrew Tye went for 100 off his nine. At least one Australian scored a century.

What was most galling from the abject display was not the records that were set – and there were many – but the way Australia went about it.

It was all so nice.

The way the Aussies carried themselves you would have thought it was a friendly game of pub cricket between two neighbouring villages – not a one day international between the two greatest cricketing rivals.

Australia went ever so meekly in to the good night, without the barest ripple of discontent. Indeed they were so placid it was like they were congratulating England on their good fortune.

“Nice shot that Mr Bairstow,” Billy Stanlake seemed to say as the England opener smashed him for another boundary. “Gosh, you’ve got on to that Mr Roy,” nodded Richardson as the English man smashed him in to the crowd – again.

It was the same for the batsman. “You’ve tricked me there me Mr Ali,” murmured Shaun Marsh as he trudged off for a stately 24. “Well bowled Mr Rashid,” mouthed Ashton Agar as he gave Adil Rashid his third of four wickets.

Where was the snarl, the turned up lip, the needling little comment about technique?

Noticeably absent. And that takes up back to Cape Town.

After the lesser embarrassment of South Africa, this Australian team has obviously been told to button it – lose very nicely, shake hands and come home.

As we can clearly see – Australians just can’t play cricket like that. It would be like the All Blacks kicking for touch. It’s not in their blood. Or to be more accurate it was knocked out of our blood by “body-line” which was the last time we played nice with England.

That infamous series showed that for Aussies to do well they have to harness the aggression, give in to their competitive spirit, to – as the catch cry goes on cricket fields all over the nation every weekend from parks to Shires to Grade to state level and (formerly) international – “fire up”.

It’s a tradition that has been passed down from Australian cricket captains from Chappelli to Border to Waugh to Clarke to Smith.

But it has stopped decidedly at Tim Paine: chosen precisely because he is a nice guy, because he was the last man in the Australian team who would ever say anything nasty to anyone, because he would lose very politely indeed – as England have done for centuries.

That’s what has happened to this Australian cricket team – they have become England.

But fear not Australian cricket fans – this period of “nice losers” won’t last.

Firstly Australians won’t stand for it – ball tampering is bad but losing to the Poms is much worse.

Secondly a chirpy young fellow called Virat Kohli is heading down our way and nothing will fire up the Aussie bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins (none of who are on this tour) than a true contest against an equally committed cricketing foe.

Kohli, by his mere presence, will bring the Aussie fire back, and the Indian captain would not want it any other way. Beating Australia like this, well it just isn’t cricket.

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