Divine Kingship in Cricket. In Australian Colours

Michael Roberts

TV footage displayed today on ABC and other Australian stations reveal a middle-aged South African fan telling David Warner something as he walks up the pathway to the pavilion after his dismissal.  Warner then pauses and with angry visage and turns to say something to the spectator who continues to speak (with a smile on his face).

At the media event subsequently, Darren Lehmann (Aussie coach) castigated the actions of those Newlands cricket fans who abused the Aussies mercilessly. He stressed that the level of verbals had crossed the lines into abuse and was not banter.

The ABC reporters in the studio back home supported Lehmann dutifully and endorsed his claim that what occurred was “not banter.”  It was despicable. slimy abuse.


BUT:  there is that problem of double standards is there not! The Aussie gods define what is abuse and what is banter. The lines of permissible verbals in and around the cricket field are drawn by the Divine Australian Kings of Cricket.

NOTE: during the Second Test match Warner was the leader of the considered Australian on-field programme of verbal intimidation directed at South African batsmen – especially when they were batting well and long. This is standard policy in all matches of course. Thus, as Quinton de Kock garnered a half-century, he was systematically denigrated via reference to the minute capacities of his penis – his cock. We are fortunate to have some moments on video as De Kock walked off the field.[1]


This commentary, of course, was/is banter, not abuse. Thus, say the Aussie kings.


The persistence of inequality on the cricket field through the continued deployment of verbal intimidation & abuse within the boundaries (usually by the fielding side) has been promoted by three factors; (A) a piss-weak ICC policy on this issue and a reluctance to stamp it out by following the codes in, say, rugby, where the authorities have introduced the sin-binning of serious offenders for a variety of offenses; (B) piss-weak umpires of Black, White and Asian lineage; and (C) by the blanket use of the term “sledging” in ways that render all on-field verbals into “banter.”

The term “sledging’ is a euphemism that hides many cricketing sins. The power of the euphemism also rests on the shoulders of those who reign the media world as divine kings. That is, it depends on double standards.

Girding these duplicity is a profound cultural clash. In the Western world, and especially in the Aussie bar-room world, verbal badinage is par for the course. There may be the odd exceptional moments – as Warner’s reactions to verbal remarks in two separate instances on the pavilion steps have revealed recently. But pushing, shoving and the use of fists constitute brawling. The latter are a “no-no”.

Most people nurtured in Asia will, however, tell you that some forms of verbal denigration in public damage an individual far more than a fist in the face. They eat into the mind. They sear through one’s personhood and self-esteem. They can remain etched deeply in one’s soul. Blokes like Smith, Warner, and Lehmann simply do not understand this. They are cocooned in their dominant Western culture. What holds true in their castle must hold true generally everywhere.

The divine Australian cricketers and the corseted Aussie media-personnel simply do not understand this. They occupy the heights of power – both in the ICC and in media clout. Orientalism remains pervasive in the cricketing world.


Edward Said:  Orientalism, 1978

Edward Said: “Orientalism Reconsidered”, Cultural Critique Magazine, No. 1, Autumn 1985.

Michael Roberts: “Sin Bin for Verbal Intimidation” in Roberts, Essaying Cricket: Sri Lanka and Beyond, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2006, pp. 98-102.

Gayathri Spivak: In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics, London: Methuen, 1987.


[1] One consequence was a verbal stoush on the pavilion steps at teatime when De Kock seized the opportunity to denigrate Warner or his wife (see http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/22648767/david-warner-involved-heated-exchange-quinton-de-kock).


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2 responses to “Divine Kingship in Cricket. In Australian Colours

  1. G. H. Peiris

    You are absolutely on target about ‘divine rights’ in Cricket.
    In fact I found it quite strange when they maintained exemplary dignity and decorum in the course of their Test series whitewash here about a year ago. How come? About 20 years ago it was quite a different story. At the semi-final of that memorable ICC Championship which SL hosted in Colombo (of which I had a full recording) ‘fuck’ accompanied at times with a curse from Macgrah, Warne and several others were caught by the cameraman at least 10 times each time they got the treatment from Jayasooriya and Aravinda. At another match – a rare occasion when they lost – it was this Lehmann who went berserk.
    I am, to tell you the truth, not too sure about what you say on the Asians – not when I hear the Sinhalese version of fuck, bastard, bitch, tart, motherfucker etc. uttered in public, admittedly at brawls. Still, our cricketers are always like choir-boys. What really worries me is not the ‘fucking’, but other forms of ‘divine rights’, especially by the ICC – with ‘father figures’ like Gavaskar and Chris Broad (real b….d, he) with their multiple standards. It is so bad that sometime I feel we shouldn’t be playing this game at all.
    Best regards

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