Cricket seems genteel on the surface to the casual observer, but in reality it is a hard game fought by harder men. You don’t stand in the Australian summer sun for 8 hours wearing whites on a field devoid of all shade without a little bit of heart. Likewise, a batsman facing a fast bowler coming in to deliver a ball which is more or less constructed of rock that was used by Roman soldiers for their slings, must remember that you do not back away; rather you put your best foot forward. And all the padding and fancy helmets in the world won’t save you if you get the ball in the wrong place.

Hard men playing a hard game in a harsh environment means that there is no room for lightweights. Men are tested not just in their physical bearing but also in their mental abilities. The art of sledging is part and parcel of cricket. Sledging is on field banter designed to get under the skin of opposing players. I myself may have on occasion told batsmen who were annoying me to turn over their bat so as to read the instructions on the other side. One of the better sledges in cricket history took place between Australian Rod Marsh and English player Ian Botham.

Marsh: “How’s your wife and my kids?”

Botham: “Wife is fine. Kids are retarded.”

Or how about Glen McGrath to Eddo Brandes?

McGrath: “Why are you so fat?”

Brandes: “Because every time I fuck your wife she gives me a biscuit.”

Men understand the battle here. The replies to these sledges establish the individual as a man of note. He is not bothered by temporary taunts; on the contrary, he can turn them around and use the abuse to deliver a devastating blow in return. Men to be feared and respected.

But not so much today. The headline in The Australian on the weekend, the most prominent article of them all, went as such: Test star James Pattinson axed from first test after ‘gay slur’ incident.

The Victorian quick was found guilty of a level two breach for personal abuse of a player during Victoria’s Sheffield Shield match against Queensland. Under the code, the offence could have been level three, which carries more serious penalties.

The Australian understands Pattinson used a homophobic slur against Cameron Gannon during Victoria’s Sheffield Shield match against Queensland at the MCG last week. The paceman apologised instantly to the Queensland batsman who was a former teammate in the Big Bash League, but was still charged by umpires.

Dear oh dear, we are a generation of complete nancies, are we not.

What is interesting to me is the instant apology. You only apologise instantly if the slur really hits home, which logically must mean that Gannon is gay. How could it not be otherwise? But that doesn’t make sense either as to be gay these days is to enjoy special privileges and rights. Soon there will be gay friendly home loan rates. By that stage there will hardly be a breeder left in Oz. So how is calling someone gay an insult if they are gay? It’s merely an observation I would think. Very strange.

“I made a mistake in the heat of the moment,” Pattinson said. “Straight away I realised I was in the wrong, and I apologised immediately, both to the opponent and to the umpires.

“I have done the wrong thing and accept the penalty. I’m gutted to miss a Test match, but the standards are there for a reason and the fault is mine.”

I wonder if Gannon burst into tears. I mean, that would just about complete this picture of a boy’s under 10 cricket match and its associated drama. We had a saying that what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch but no longer it seems. Umpires aren’t allowed to make critical decisions relevant to the game anymore so it seems that they have been reduced to the role of the primary school teacher. Next they’ll be handing out gold stars for particularly fine shots with the bat.

Of course, the real question is which gay slur James used in the heat of the moment. Readers are encouraged to vote to decide what James said to make Cameron cry and tell on him to the teachers.

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