In the vociferous arguing about the ins and outs of who behaved worst over the second test etc etc there are people implying that criticising the Australian cricket team is unAustralian and whingey.1

Please! I love my country, I love cricket, but when the men’s team behave like dickheads they should be called on it.

People who play sport at a professional level are not exempt from the social contract. No one is. Writers (to pick a random example out of the air) shouldn’t behave like dickheads either. Recently I was at an award ceremony where the speeches of the winners were generous and moving. All but one. This one person got up to accept their award without a gram of graciousness. Their speech was about the importance of their book and the judges’ perspicacity in picking it as the winner. That speech left me not wanting to read anything by that writer. I don’t even want to meet that writer.

Very few people in this world achieve things without considerable help; acting like you did it all on your own is graceless and rude.

Ponting’s and the rest of the team’s arrogance and inability to admit that they ever do anything wrong makes me ambivalent when Australia wins test matches. Don’t get me wrong. I love for Australia to win, but, well, I love it a lot more when they’re gracious in victory.2

So, yeah, this debate isn’t just about cricket. It’s about how people should behave. How we should treat the people around us. There’s a reason that photo of Flintoff offering commiserations to Brett Lee has become so famous. It captures a moment of perfect grace:

Getty Images

  1. Though what’s more Australian than whingeing?! []
  2. And aren’t ropeable when they lose. []


  1. Malcolm Tredinnick on #

    Indeed. I’d go further: professional sports players at the top level (including test cricketers) are paid enormous amounts of money to basically be on show. The money they are making is, in part, compensation for having to watch what they say and act decently in public. Take it or leave it.

    Unfortunately, far too many, in far too many sports, take their position as a licence to act like that word Justine used.

  2. melina marchetta on #

    I agree, Justine. I went to see the cricket on the first day so I felt obliged to watch the whole test match (also because I could hear the cheering from the SCG inside my house). But I had to switch it off after they won because they were so embarrassing in their victory. Although if anyone dares to call their behaviour unaustralian I think I’ll be sick.

  3. lizabelle on #

    What’s more Australian than whinging? I thought it was us Pommies who did all the whinging!

    (I love that photo – thanks for posting it.)

  4. Patrick on #

    OOoohh!! Who gave the speech about their important books of fiction? ’cause if they’re that important, I need to read them.

    Don’t worry, you’re not saying bad things about this writer. You’re reporting the fact that he writes important books.

  5. ~grace~ on #

    and I thought this was going to be a post about me…your topic was probably much more interesting, though.

  6. Justine on #

    Melina: Yup. The whole notion of “unAustralian” or “unAmerican” irritates the hell out of me.

    Lizabelle: Yes, that’s right. Just joshing! Australian never whinge.

    Patrick: It’s such an important book by such an important person that I feel sure you will find it on your own.

    Grace: But this post is about you. 🙂

  7. Mahek on #

    flintoff – the only british sportsman who i think is worth something. the others are like ‘it’s all about the money’.

  8. emily on #

    wow, justine – only you could classify something as whining but make it so interesting and greatly written. i am officially in awe.

    also, i don’t really want to buy something from someone who is mean or distracted. same concept as the author.

    can we guess who the author is? pretty please?

  9. Justine on #

    Emily: You can guess all you like but I will never say who it was. I can tell you that it was not a young adult writer.

  10. Patrick on #

    Pretentious fiction writer. I’m going to guess it was a SF writer, older, and male.


  11. aden on #

    (I’ll throw my hat in the ring with Harlan Ellison.)

    As to behavior, it is a shame there is such a deficit of grace in the world, because there are plenty of sportsmen here in the States who desperately lack it.

    The university I studied at had a men’s basketball team famous for jackassery. The coach was really a great person, though, it just never rubbed off on his charges (by eighteen I’d guess it’s impossible to teach humility to anyone without some major crisis stepping in). The t-shirts that got handed out during games, then, didn’t say a thing about the team–they just had GO LARRY emblazoned in huge letters.

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