Week 232 (24 - 30 March 2018)
This week, the world of sport has become engrossed in the tale of the disgraced Australian cricket team and the sport’s latest ball-tampering scandal.
Coach Darren Lehmann has resigned, and captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft have received bans of up to 12 months from Cricket Australia for deliberately tampering with the ball, using sandpaper. However, the scandal is far from over and the reputation of Australian cricket will likely be tarnished for many years to come.
Players, pundits, fans, and even heads of state, have all expressed their outrage at the event that has rocked the sport traditionally known for its gentlemanly manner. Yet amidst all the outrage, it was the emotional reaction of veteran Australian commentator Jim Maxwell that will be remembered as the most powerful, as he embodied the chasm between traditional and modern sporting values.
Too often in modern sport, players, coaches and fans are becoming absorbed by the notion of winning at all costs. Yet, more and more regularly, we are seeing this sentiment confused with the willingness to cheat.
67-year-old Maxwell was nearly reduced to tears when discussing the scandal on-air during the third test against South Africa. Speaking the day after the scandal made front page headlines all over the world, the widely recognised radio voice of Australian cricket declared:
“I do not remember ever being as disappointed in an Australian team as I feel at the moment about what they did. It's so blatant and so stupid, immature, naive, I could go on. It was disappointing. Hugely disappointing...so um...”
It was at this point that Maxwell paused. Silence endured for what seemed like several minutes, before Maxwell eventually composed himself to say: “Sorry, I'm getting a bit emotional.”
But there was no need for Maxwell’s apology. In fact, quite the opposite. His raw emotion, which ultimately forced him to stop and gather himself, said more than a thousand scathing remarks from cricket aficionados all over the world. The lack of this kind of emotion, and genuine resolve for the preservation of the fundamental values of the sport, is the reason why the culture in the Australian dressing room developed to the point where this incident was deemed an acceptable course of action by the leadership team.
Speaking several days after the scandal broke, Maxwell remained outraged:
“This disgraceful incident unfortunately underlines the corroded culture in Australian cricket. The sheer arrogance of it to think that they could get away with it. I don't even know what they were thinking, but it's backfired spectacularly. There's more public outcry over this incident than any other - even more than Greg Chappell's underarm delivery.”
Maxwell’s reaction communicated a rare passion and care for the integrity of Australian cricket, and his intent for cricket to return to the sport’s fundamental 13th century values will make Maxwell a powerful voice in the rehabilitation of Australian cricket. For communicating the importance of upholding the traditional values of sport in the modern era, Jim Maxwell is the JTA Communicator of the Week.
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