OPINION

Little sympathy for entitled cricketers

Having taken the risk to go to India during a pandemic, Michael Slater does not deserve any special treatment. Photo: Andy Kearns/Getty Images
Having taken the risk to go to India during a pandemic, Michael Slater does not deserve any special treatment. Photo: Andy Kearns/Getty Images

As an aggressive opening batsman, Michael Slater thrived on the challenge of facing the world's best bowlers and often emerged victorious.

Slater took risks on the cricket field - and clearly not much has changed in his mindset since retiring and going behind a microphone to earn a living.

The New South Welshman and many fellow Australians were aware of the dangers of travelling to a third world country such as India in the middle of a pandemic which has enveloped the world in the past 18 months.

Yet they were prepared to go there in pursuit of a hefty pay cheque at the lucrative Indian Premier League.

With hundreds of thousands dying because of COVID-19 and a health system unable to cope with a massive humanitarian crisis, Slater should not be surprised there is little public sympathy in Australia for his plea to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to assist him and others involved in the IPL to return home.

Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson managed to flee India via Qatar through a travel loophole, but other Australians stayed on until the competition was abandoned last week.

Slater escaped to the safety of a beach resort in the Maldives and continued his war of words with the prime minister.

However, the former Test opener's stance has been ill-informed and lacked perspective. There are thousands of other Australians stranded in India who are desperate to leave and deserve the same duty of care.

While the government's threat of a five-year jail term and fines of up to $66,000 for breaching the travel ban from India was excessive - and an Australian passport entitles you to rights and privileges - players, coaches and commentators in the IPL should not receive special treatment.

THURSDAY NIGHT DECISION WELCOME

The AFL has made a commonsense decision, with the ritual of teams being named on a Thursday night likely to return as early as this week.

The league understandably decided to abandon the practice last year as games were played in unconventional timeslots, often in quick succession to complete a season during the pandemic.

This has continued this year with clubs announcing their teams a day before they play, but the AFL has acquiesced to people power.

Fans argued it was much harder to make your selections in weekly tipping competitions without knowing the teams, although generally you can change your tip up until the game starts.

But the average fan's view might have played only a minor role in this decision.

Betting companies, which pour millions into AFL coffers, need to frame accurate markets.

By delaying team announcements, it also opens up more opportunity for people "in the know" to use sensitive selection information to their advantage, despite league rules in place to prevent this happening.

Selection news also fills a vacuum for broadcasters and other media outlets until games return on Thursday night in the second half of the season.

The Cameron Zurhaar decision was a shocker. Photo: Mike Owen/Getty Images

The Cameron Zurhaar decision was a shocker. Photo: Mike Owen/Getty Images

ZURHAAR PENALTY A SHOCKER

There have been some shocking errors made by umpires this season, but the free kick against North Melbourne's Cameron Zurhaar has to have been the worst.

Zurhaar was having a shot for goal on the run late in the second quarter last Saturday when the ball skewed off his right boot and dribbled over the boundary line.

Dean Margetts, one of the game's most experienced umpires, stunned everyone when he adjudged Zurhaar had not shown "sufficient intent" to keep the ball in play.

Umpires need to apply common sense as well as having a feel for the game when making these calls. In this case, Margetts showed neither.

It didn't affect the result, with Collingwood winning comfortably, but it was a terrible call for an umpire who should know better.

CAMERON, HAWKINS DELIVER KO BLOW

The combination of Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins will send shivers down the spines of opposition defences if the Cats' demolition of Richmond last Friday night is any guide.

Since Cameron played his first game for his new club in round six, the Cats have been building synergy in attack, which functioned superbly against the shell-shocked Tigers.

Cameron and Hawkins combined for 10 goals and 31 score involvements and sidekick Gary Rohan joined the party in his 150th game with five goals and 11 score involvements.

Geelong invested heavily in seasoned recruits Cameron, Shaun Higgins and Isaac Smith in the off-season, and the trio made vital contributions to the Cats' resounding victory.

After a tardy start, the talent-laden Cats picked apart the Tigers' much-vaunted system.

Richmond was without skipper Trent Cotchin and premiership stars Dylan Grimes, Kane Lambert and Dion Prestia.

But there were worrying signs, notably the absence of the Tigers' renowned forward pressure and the ease with which Geelong was able to exploit their defence one on one.

Was this result merely another hiccup or did it highlight deeper problems?

Is the Tigers' hunger for the contest waning after three premierships in four years?

Maybe it's a bit early to tell, but there is a lot of work ahead for Richmond to make the finals.

Email: howardkotton11@gmail.com; Twitter: @hpkotton59.

  • This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas
This story Howard Kotton | Little sympathy for entitled cricketers first appeared on The Canberra Times.