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Sight Screen

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Hayden under the hammer

In a piece in the Telegraph titled 'Mr Nice Guy leads Aussies into decline', former England captain Mike Atherton argued, just the other week, that this Aussie team does not have the on-field intensity of its predecessor.
Suggesting that an aggressive on-field demeanor characterises winning teams, Atherton drew parallels with the West Indies outfit led by Viv Richards.
In 1995 the West Indies were captained by Richie Richardson, who had taken over from Viv Richards. Teams often exhibit the characteristics of their leaders and there is no doubt that was the case with the West Indies. Richards's team, like the man himself, was brooding, intense and fearsome. Richardson was more laid back and so were his players.
On what we have seen so far the same could be said of Ponting's Australians. Both in body language and tactics, the intensity and aggression that we came to expect under Steve Waugh has been largely missing this summer under Ponting.

It appears, from some comments Steve Waugh has made, that Team Australia's softer image is due not so much to the personality of skipper Ricky Ponting, as to a code of conduct the players have instituted and agreed to abide by.
Whatever -- Matt Hayden appears to have blotted the copybook already. Apart from his on-field set-to with Simon Jones -- and half the England team besides -- yesterday, there's this:
As Australia went out to field the players were asked to run through a guard of honour with children waving English and sponsors NatWest flags, but several of the Australians, including Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn, Brad Hogg and Hayden, skirted around the back and up the outside.
As Hayden ran along the outer side, he allegedly said to a primary-school child: "I wish you would just f... off."

Interesting, all this -- if such a conduct code exists, the Aussies are prolly going to find it pretty difficult to live up to. Already, Simon Jones -- whose throw precipitated yesterday's incidents -- has promised that it will be a no-quarters-given series; England skipper Michael Vaughan seems, discreetly, to be promising more of the same as the series hots up:
"We play it pretty tough and so do they. I wouldn't say it will be the last time that England and Australia exchange a few words, I'm sure it will happen throughout the summer."

We live in interesting times.

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