Sydney: The Australian team’s decision to use aggression and intimidation in a final desperate bid to win the Perth Test has the blessings of the game’s administrators and supporters.
Paceman Mitchell Johnson’s admission of calculated sledging was met with tacit approval by Cricket Australia backed by exhaustive research into what Australian supporters expect from their team.
“The field of play is not a place for namby pambys, and the public doesn’t want to see namby pambys out there,” CA spokesman Peter Young said.
“What the public are saying is they’d like the team to play hard, but fair, and that is not contradictory. What they don’t like is sharp practice, people who stand their ground knowing they’re out, cheating and in particular anything to do with corruption,” he said.
“There is, in a sense, an informal induction when players come into the team about the importance of the spirit of cricket and the expectation that the game is played a certain way. But it’s tough, it’s ruthless and the public expect it to be tough, ruthless, no quarter asked and no quarter given,” he said.
Johnson said the team had been trying to rein in their natural aggression for three years, ever since being howled down as “ugly Australians” in the aftermath of the spiteful 2008 New Year’s Test against India at the SCG.
But with the Ashes on the line at the WACA Ground, it has burst out of them again, to startling effect.
“I guess we decided we needed to get up there and get fiery, but not overstep the line. We … did back off for a period there [after Sydney]. We’ve sort of been up and down with it,” Johnson said.
“When we’ve got that bit of fire about us we do play very well … if we can … right up in their faces a little bit more you pick certain blokes out, I think we did that well,” he added.