SAME old Aussies, always cheating?
More like same old Poms, always whingers, sooks and hypocrites.
After a week in which you would think English cricket, as a collective, might be at least slightly circumspect, their unfounded self-righteous indignation has again been evident for all to see.
Before a ball was bowled in the Lord's Test match, England skipper Ben Stokes delivered a solemn statement at a press conference, in which he offered an apology in the wake of an unprecedented inquiry that revealed all levels of the game in the Old Dart have been riddled with discrimination, forever and a day.
"To the people involved in the game who have been made to feel unwelcome or unaccepted in the past, I am deeply sorry to hear of your experiences," Stokes said.
Five days later, Stokes did not seem to have the same level of concern when his Australian opponents were left feeling unwelcome and unaccepted after winning a controversial Test at the so-called home of cricket.
Australia's supposed crime, in case you somehow missed it, was to claim the wicket of Jonny Bairstow with an underarm throw at the stumps from wicket-keeper Alex Carey, after the final ball in a Cameron Green over.
Initially, I thought it appeared dubious, even poor form, on Australia's behalf.
But after watching repeated replays, I reached the conclusion that it's pretty much this simple.
Carey tossed the ball immediately after catching it, without delay. Bairstow assumed the ball was dead, but that's not his call.
When a ball can be construed "dead" is a grey area, as shown 24 hours earlier with the Mitchell Starc no-catch ruling.
In Bairstow's case, the umpires apparently had not called over, hence play was still in process, and the dismissal was confirmed by the third official.
That should have been the end of the matter, but of course it wasn't.
The Lord's crowd erupted with outraged booing and chants of "same old Aussies, always cheating". The Pimms-quaffing members abused the Australian players as they made their way through the famous Long Room in the pavilion.
Stokes and England coach Brendon McCullum fuelled the hysteria with post-match comments implying that Australia had not played within the spirit of the game, and the phone-hacking English tabloids rushed to lay the slipper in. Even Rishi Sunak, England's third awful Prime Minister within the space of a few months, joined the pile-on.
And yet the Poms' claims to the high moral ground appear tenuous, at best.
As far back as WG Grace, they've been bending the MCC's laws of cricket whenever it suits their purpose.
Depending on which version you believe, Dr Grace either refused to leave the crease after being given out lbw - explaining "they're here to watch me bat, not you umpire" - or replaced the bails after being skittled and directed similar comments to the bowler.
Then there was the infamous Bodyline series, the ghosts which were stirred during Australia's second innings at Lord's, when England bowled over after over of bouncers, to a stacked leg-side field.
And while English crowds continue to heckle the Australians about the infamous "Sandpapergate" scandal of 2018, they seem to forget that in 1994 Mike Atherton was busted with a pocketful of dirt that he used to rub on the ball in a Test against South Africa.
Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft received lengthy bans. Atherton, the England captain, was fined £2000 ($4000) and allowed to continue playing.
A decade or so later, after England won a memorable 2005 Ashes series, they took great delight in revealing that Murray's mints had been the secret of their reverse-swing bowling.
Likewise, it was all a big giggle in the first Ashes Test of 2013 when Stuart Broad blatantly nicked a ball from spinner Ashton Agar to Michael Clarke at slip, and remained at the crease to score a crucial 65 in England's 14-run victory.
I'm not suggesting Broad should have "walked". I never did during my own far-from-illustrious playing career. He waited for the umpire's decision ... as the Aussies did at Lord's on Monday.
But it's a bit rich for him to now be questioning the sportsmanship of his opponents, simply because the boot is on the other foot.
Not surprisingly, Broad's smart-arse antics were cheered by the crowd at Lord's, just as inevitably the Aussies will have to endure a barrage of abuse over the remaining three Tests.
They'll be taunted as cheats and reminded of Smith "crying on the telly". When the Barmy Army tire of that, they'll move on to "you all live in a convict colony" and a tune that reminds us that Rolf Harris was "one of your own".
All of which could be construed as banter, traditional English humour, if not for the damning findings delivered last week by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket.
At a time when England's powers-that-be are desperately trying to repair the game's image, after admitting that "racism, class-based discrimination, elitism and sexism are widespread and deep-rooted" at all levels, this is no time to be demonising their oldest rivals.
Australian cricket took a long, hard look in the mirror after Sandpapergate, and we didn't like what we saw.
Events of the past week would suggest the Poms need to grow up and follow our lead.
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