News of an impending Asian “warm-up” series for Australia’s
cricketers sounds great for this cricket fan. It would sound even
better had I not read Good Weekend’s (29/7) extract of Paul Barry’s
assessment of Shane Warne. The players’ families will see their loved
ones spasmodically through summer, and otherwise little if at all for
2 or 3 months either side.
Few cricketers would match Warne for promiscuity. (Presumably!) But
Barry’s extract highlights some alarming personal impacts of the
punishing schedule faced by top-level cricketers universally. The
rate of marriage and relationship breakdown in our community is a
blight on us already. But it would be infinitely worse if all
Australians spent as much time away from partner and children as our
national side spends on tour.
Marital unfaithfulness, contrary to popular myth, is not an
inevitability for libidinous blokes. (Your testosterone didn’t make
you do it.) It’s a choice, and men must accept responsibility for it
(even if the bustline was rather low). But the cricket authorities,
the media and we fans are not faultless either. We expect our boys to
thrill us with half a year’s scintillating cricket. Some things
really do matter more. Sporting pride is poor compensation for
shattered trust. Think again, Australia.