Darren Lehmann’s astonishingly poor choice of words on a radio talk show reveals the poverty of Australian cricket at the moment.
The show centred on the Stuart Broad incident in Trent Bridge. The show’s host sets the tone by calling Broad an “idiot”. Lehmann, the coach of the Australian team, has no problem lowering himself to that level of discourse.
“Certainly our players haven't forgotten,” Lehmann tells us how the team has dealt with the incident. “They're calling [Broad] everything under the sun as they go past.”
Australia are 0-3 down. They’ve just completed a hat-trick of Ashes losses, their first since the 1950s. They’ve lost seven of their last eight Tests, and it has more to do with their own rapidly-falling standards than Broad not walking.
On the other hand, Broad has done his job brilliantly. His Andrew Flintoff-like hell-raising in Chester-le-Street, where he took 11 wickets, helped England win the series. If Australia have only abuses to offer Broad in return, it shows what poor losers they have become – a sad thing for a once great cricketing nation to be.
But Lehmann, who hasn’t been above the odd racial abuse himself, doesn’t stop there. He’s hoping all the Australian public would be abusing Broad when England visit them in the summer.
“I just hope the Australian public give it to him right from the word go for the whole summer and I hope he cries and he goes home,” Lehmann added. That's the sort of loose comment you'd expect from casual followers of the game, not from the public face of an international sports team.
The Australian public is famous for tormenting oppositions to the extent that they disintegrate on the field. Muttiah Muralitharan is a prime example. He had famously refused to tour the country once after his terrible experiences with the Australian public and umpires in 1995 and 1999.
But no Australian captain or coach has ever had to ask for this readily-available support for the home team. That Lehmann is so eager to avail it might mean he is so short of solutions to his team’s problems, the best he can do is take pot-shots at the opposition.
Then, there’s Lehmann’s ambiguity about walking. “I don't advocate walking but when you hit it to first slip it's pretty hard,” he said. Plainly speaking he means “It is okay to cheat but only within limits acceptable to me.”
Australian cricket is in a right-royal mess. They push a good player to retirement because he is 35. Then they realise they don’t have enough good players around so they are forced to pick another 35-year-old.
They have to ban players for home-works and drinking problems and fine them over Twitter problems. They confuse the problem-free players by playing them one game and dropping them for another.
They play into the opposition’s hands by sacking their coach before a marquee series. They keep denying interpersonal problems exist between their two top players. And after going down 0-3, they have the temerity to call their opposition “defensive.”
Have Australia replaced Pakistan as the cricket world's greatest shooters of their own feet? Or are they, as England fans have often wondered aloud, Scotland in disguise? The results tell everything. But is Lehmann listening?