‘Sack them all’: How Aussie press responded to a nation’s humiliation

“Rabada decision means cricket has changed forever,” proclaimed a headline from broadsheet newspaper The Australian, last week. The partisan and dogmatic views of the nation’s press when commenting on its  number one sport religion are no secret. The doom prophesying continued in the introduction: “The decision … means that cricket is now, apparently, a contact sport.”

Today, The Daily Telegraph front page articulated the attitude of millions with one emboldened word and a poignant full stop: SHAME.

Judging by two days of Australian headlines, this is a country consumed by humiliation and mangled by the inability to point the finger at anyone else.

Cameron Bancroft’s blatant cheating on Saturday and captain Steve Smith’s subsequent admission that altering the match ball was a conversation had by its leadership has left no space to hide.

“It was the culmination of a grubby win-at-all-costs culture finally crossing from self-righteous rule-bending into a world of shameless, bald-faced cheating,” The Daily Telegraph wrote.

“Where were the adults in the room?” The Australian had to sanctimoniously ask today. “The answer to the question is, sadly, that these are the adults. Or the nearest thing to them that the game can summon.”

It is a sentiment widely shared – outrage at the moral destitution of leaders who were appointed to be exemplars of the gentleman’s game.   

“Smith falls on his sword,” said The Advertiser in what was as good as it got for the captain. “Sack them all,” screamed the Herald Sun. “Show some balls,” demanded the The Courier Mail.

Needless to say, this was duck hunting with an automatic rifle for the tabloids.

During his admission, Smith promised that this was the first, and last time, his team had ever stooped to this level. British tabloids, however, couldn’t resist trying to recoup a modicum of British Ashes dignity and posed the question:

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These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

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Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham

Luke Feltham runs the Mail & Guardian's sports desk. He was previously the online day editor.

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