(Schadenfreude: the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.)

The sports loving world is indulging in an orgy of Schadenfreude at the moment. The Australian cricket team have been caught cheating, and their public humiliation is giving enormous pleasure to many across the world.

Every newspaper, every sporting magazine, every sports website, and not a few million words on various social media platforms are vociferously celebrating the come-uppance of a team seen as arrogant and not a little two-faced.

Their attempt to cheat on the field, caught on camera and broadcast to the world in full High Definition video, is related back to their own very loud words about Faf du Plessis and “Mintgate” – David Warner had plenty to say at a press conference and later on live radio after Faf du Plessis was charged with ball tampering during a tour of Australia in 2016.

“I won’t comment on the way [South Africa] have been behaving but I just know from an Australian cricket perspective: we hold our heads high and I’ll be very disappointed if one of our teammates [illegally change the condition of the ball],” Warner said at that press conference in 2016.

“The rules are in place for a reason, if you’re not gonna use them, then why bother having them?”

This was not David Warner’s first attempt to paint opponents’ with the tar brush, he was fined 15 per cent of his match fee in 2014 for accusing South Africa of ball tampering, telling Sky Sports Radio the Australian camp were suspicious of the opposition wicketkeeper.

“We were actually questioning whether or not A.B. de Villiers would get the ball in his hand and with his glove wipe the rough side every ball. That’s another thing we have to try and bring up with the umpires.”

Of course, David Warner is the epitome of sporting behaviour. In June 2013 he had to publically apologise for a drunken punch he launched at Joe Root of England. Cricket Australia fined him for his pugilistic endeavours, and he was suspended for the rest of the Champions Trophy, as well as two Ashes warm-up matches.

This was Warner’s second disciplinary problem in less than a month – having earlier had a social media spat with two journalists, Malcolm Conn and Robert Craddock.  In May 2013 Warner was fined A$5750 for a Twitter outburst aimed at the two Australian journalists. Warner pleaded guilty to breaching the Cricket Australia Code of Behaviour. “In hindsight, clearly I let my frustrations get the better of me and posted some inappropriate tweets last weekend,” Warner said after the hearing. “While I disagreed with the story and my image being used alongside the story, I could have chosen my words better and I apologise for any offence that my language may have caused.”

David Warner has previously assumed the role of “attack dog” for the Aussie cricket team, and he obviously revels in the role. His sniping is not restricted to on-field comments and chirps, he has a reputation for talking off the field, to the media, and anyone else that cares to listen.

His verbal assault on Quinton de Kock, reportedly with all manner of comments about the youngster’s sister, mother, and calling him a “bush pig” – an ongoing onslaught that eventually caused the South African to respond, crudely. Warner’s fury at the response suggested that he did not like taking that which he so loved to dish out. A schoolyard bully who did not like his victim fighting back.

The real issue is that he thought he somehow had the right to attack De Kock physically suggests an attitude that does not belong on a sports’ field. He had to be physically restrained by some of his teammates.

This Australian cricket team has not covered itself with glory during the current tour of South Africa. Prior to the start of the 1st Test down in Durban they requested that the stump microphones and on-field listening devices be turned down or off to prevent their sledging from being broadcast to the world. Although the request was denied, it does provide evidence that they had arrived with a pre-determined plan to attempt the “mental disintegration” of the South Africans. A tactic, a verbal onslaught, defined and refined by the Aussies under Steve Waugh.

They came to South Africa spoiling for a fight.

In the same game Nathan Lyon copped a fine for his ‘ball drop’ send-off of AB de Villiers.

The incidents in Durban prompted a public rebuke from Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland, who admitted the Australian players had not acted within the spirit of the game.

They promptly resorted to complaining about the South African crowd behaviour.


Pat Symcox will tell you about the time he was nearly hit by a flying chicken. A dead one, roasted to perfection, thrown from the stands by an Australian spectator, during a Test match at Sydney in 1997.

He will go on to tell you of a shower of golf balls, bottles and tennis balls (wet with who the hell knew what) that rained down from the stands onto the South Africans.

AB de Villiers is on record for repeatedly bringing up the subject of the importance of adjusting to the parallel universe that awaits visiting teams Down Under.

Touring Australia is no fun.

The local media, the fans, and the team are lined up against you from the moment you set foot in that country.

It is thus inevitable that their complaints about the South African crowd behaviour is immediately compared to the behaviour of their own crowds, especially as it is their coach, Darren Lehmann, who has been the loudest in complaining.

It was this self-same Darren Lehmann who made a public call on Aussie fans to get stuck into Stuart Broad so that he “cries and goes home” at the start of the 2013-14 Ashes tour.

During that 2013 Ashes – his first series in charge – Lehmann accused Stuart Broad of “blatant cheating” for refusing to walk when he edged a ball to the keeper during the first Test.

Later that year, when England arrived for their Ashes tour in Australia, Lehmann said: “From my point of view, 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.”

Australia’s 2014 tour of South Africa was marred by sledging which led Faf du Plessis to liken the visitors to a “pack of dogs”, while last year’s tour of India and the most recent Ashes series were also spiteful affairs.

The Australian cricket team drew the line in the sand, and then tripped over it. Their culture of sledging, whingeing, hypocrisy and arrogance, has come back to bite them, hard.

The world can be forgiven the Schadenfreude currently doing the rounds. The Aussies have been too arrogant, too self-righteous, and far too condescending for their own good.





    I believe that some people who dabble in psychology will be themselves, irreparably damaged.

    It is unfortunate that we are in an age where people are allowed to say whatever they want to without thinking of recourse. Seeking legal recourse against slander is an expensive course of action and is fraught with pitfalls. Denigrating someone on social media is a pastime of the young who have little understanding of its possible repercussions. This has grown and amongst the uncouth, has developed into a new form of bullying.

    Extending such tactics to the sport field is just “not cricket”!

    I hope for the sake of sport in general and cricket in particular that there are serious consequences for the likes of Smith, Warner and any others who may be identified as being from the “leadership group”. It is now fairly clear that this includes coach Lehman.

    The Australian tactics are akin to talking on a golfer’s backswing – only worse. They not only talk but swear at the person.

    Sport may have become a business to quite a few but there are millions of us who participate in sport for the simple pleasure it brings and the friends one can make while participating and even competing.

    I have never admired sledging and hope to see the end of it. Banter is one thing – abuse is just that!

    • I am busy with an article on the misbehaviour of the entitled elite – the modern professional sportsmen and women with too much money and way too much time on their hands, who believe the world owes them something.

  2. Watching the affair from Australia has been interesting, disappointing and almost depressing.

    The first reactions were sensational, it was good headlines and clickbait. A lot of the old school were truly disgusted, and there were calls for the whole team to be sacked. And then there is a also a strong school of thinking which took the view that its just a bit of ball tampering and everybody does it, their main crime was to get caught. I sort of think this is the attitude taken by Smith and Warner, they originally brazened it out and only became apologetic when they realised they were in deep. Their hubris has been learnt from forerunners such as Ian Chappell and the Waugh brothers, to name a few. I think they are only crying because they have lost many millions of dollars, and will never be able to live it down.

    By one estimate Cricket Australia stands to lose around $300 million from this in lost sponsorship, and other costs, which accounts for their defensive attitude and their appeal that the cricket world gets it in perspective. Many people in Australia are truly disgusted with them, and they pay the money which keeps it going. It’s a business, not a game.

    The cricket Tragics have always said that cricket is not just a game. Some say that cheating goes all the way back to W.G. Grace, who did a bit of cheating. Its an Australian legend that cricket lost its innocence during the bodyline series of 1932/33, when only one of the teams were playing cricket. Since then the Australian cricket team has always had a bit of mongrel in it. (Mongrel is a Australian term that implies viciousness, its not a reference to bastard convict origins).

    Maybe it’s just professional sport, it’s about money. They cheated because they were losing money.

    Prior to the professionalization of rugby, which was largely pushed by the ARU, the Wallabies were generally a team of gentlemen players from the Universities and private schools. Those superstars who were interested in money went to play Rugby League. The ARU argued that it had to professionalise because they just could not retain and decent players in the face of the Rugby League talent scouts. Nowdays the culture of Rugby in Australia is not very different from Rugby League. The players are much the same, and the Universities don’t seem to produce many of the Wallabies.

    Rugby is often thought to be a dying game in Australia. Even in the Rugby States of NSW and Queensland it is a minority sport, eclipsed by AFL, Rugby League and even Soccer. There certainly was a boost for the game shortly after it professionalised around 1990, and somehow won a couple of World Cups, but those days seem far away. I think professionalism was the siren of doom for Australian Rugby.

    Somehow Australia fields decent teams, but that is more due to Australia’s general attitude to sport, rather than interest in any single game. Australians see sport as a way of countering an inferiority complex that probably goes back to settlement and convict days. There has always been a need to prove to the old country that Ozzies are as good as, and better than them. The same attitude informed Australians at war, and they generally fought wars the same way they play sport. To win at all costs. Sport is some kind of substitute for war, or the other way around.

    Anyway, when its all about money, as professional sport is, its unrealistic to expect old fashioned virtues of gentlemanly sportsmanship.

    Its just not cricket anymore.

    • Interesting thoughts. Thanks for the Aussie perspective!
      The one comment that I would make about the Aussie reaction is summed up in the words of the WACA spokesperson sitting with Cameron Bancroft at his “public apology” media conference. Responding to a question about why the fans and media were taking such huge exception to ball tampering, something that happens all the time, she said: “Because it was planned, premeditated……”
      Perhaps that is something some of the media and the player representatives are losing in their objections to the severity of the punishment. It was not about ball tampering, it was about the premeditation, the planning to cheat. That is what brought the Aussie game into disrepute, not so much the method as the intent.
      I also found Bancroft somewhat less than contrite. He was angry because he had “given up his spot in the Aussie team to someone else for free” – he said as much, twice.
      As for Warner’s ducking and diving direct questions during his “act of contrition” – to an outside, a non-Aussie, he simply has no credibility left. He has promised to change and apologised too many times before. His disgusting and disturbing on-field reaction to the 1st Test run-out involving AB de Villiers was one of someone who had lost control………. He again lost control when De Kock chirped back at him, after he had spent all of the youngster’s time on the field gnawing at him and pushing him to breaking point. When the kid “broke” Warner responded with yet another angry and abusive loss of control. Shades of McGrath who was happy to sledge anyone, but beware your soul if you thought you could answer back!

  3. Yes, the premeditation was surprising, to say the least. In legal terms it was a conspiracy, which is always treated more severely under any code because the element of premeditation removes most pretexts for mitigation. The fact that the conspiracy involves the “Leadership Team”, the two captains and the coach makes it all the more onerous. This does not seem to have penetrated the dim think tank in the Leadership Team of Cricket Australia, whose main concern is to protect their on field assets (the players), rather than the longer term viability of the business and the game.

    I am astonished that they seem to have the intention of fielding Smith and Warner after they have served out their short suspensions. These guys are forever tainted, their lack of sportsmanship, the faux contrition, and very real tears, make them kind of ugly. Most Australians will be embarrassed to see them wearing the baggy green cap again, and the same probably for most cricket fans. God help them if they ever take the field again in South Africa. Or even New Zealand, who have still not forgotten Ian Chappell and the underarm bowling affair. The advertisers seem to have got the message, and are pulling out in numbers. It’s not just the Leadership Team of of the players that needs sacking, they should probably do the same to the Management and Board of Cricket Australia.

    I am somehow reminded of the recent decline in American Football. Their game attendances are falling, as well as their TV ratings, yet the Management and Players consider the Fans, the people who actually pay for the whole circus, are irrelevant and will accept whatever the lucky to be offered.

    Is it all professionalism again? You would think the management of CA would immediately respond to the ominous messages from sponsors and advertisers. But the postmodern management model has many examples of corporate capture, where the Board and Executive are able to control the organisation and operate it to the detriment of shareholders. The top office holders ride the gravy train while the organisation crashes. In the end there’s nothing left but a pile of debts while the Top Execs all walk away with huge golden handshakes and performance bonuses.