Steve Smith, Cricket Australia, Turnbull and keeping our eye on the ball

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Noely Neate, #cricketgate, #CricketCheats, Cricket Australia, #Newspoll, Steve Smith, Malcolm Turnbull, ball tampering, #CARoyalCommission, Nauru, #childrenindetention, suicide, child detention, South Africa, cricket, #bringthemhere, Turnbull Government, Coalition, Liberal Party,

Our nation is united in outrage and "shocking disappointment" over a cricket scandal — not the findings of the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse or the repeated suicide attempts of a ten-year-old boy on Nauru, writes Noely Neate.

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT a game of cricket could unite the country in this manner?

Well, unite them in outrage anyhow. Left, right, conservative, green, you name it, most Australians have finally found something they all agree on. Both online and offline, “Our cricketers are a national disgrace” and other sentiments along those lines can be found.

You would have to have been living under a rock in the past 24 hours if you missed Steve Smith’s insouciant press conference on Sunday (25 March) admitting to "ball tampering" in South Africa. As far as sins in cricket go in recent years, it is not really up there with the likes of "match-fixing", though considering Cricket Australia and Australian cricket fans in general, have screamed blue murder every time another nation has been pinged, well, the standards were considered much higher here for the so-called “gentleman’s game”.

I’m not much of a fan of cricket. I used to be as a kid, though over the years my interest has waned to the point where when Ricky Ponting took over, I pretty much turned off totally. Too many tosser captains who seem more like private school boys earning too much money while whining about too much work, yet not skipping Indian Premier League where they earn a fortune for a break.

Anyhow, having said that, I do get the outrage. As a sports fan myself, I'd be shocked and devastated if I learned, say, the Australian Diamonds had cheated to win a series.

What really saddens me though is this — it is a cricket scandal that unites the nation in "outrage".

Today, this made the front pages of the 12 mainstream news publications. I can’t remember the last time that many mainstream media publications had the same issue splashed on their front pages — every single one!

Compare this to say revelations in February last year where the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse revealed the horrifying extent of abuse in the Catholic Church in Australia, with 4,444 victims involved.

That's 4,444 alleged victims with an average age of 10.5 for girls and just over 11.5 for boys! Yet we didn’t see a dozen front page splashes over this horror. We saw one. Only one mainstream paper considered this heinous news worthy of a yelling top note to their readership, The West Australian. In fact, if you only followed the mainstream newspapers, you may not even have been aware of these findings.

If we want to look at recent events, particularly in light of mental health concerns for young kids, you would think the repeated attempts of a ten-year-old boy to kill himself on Nauru, might be a national concern worthy of a front-page splash, considering these refugees are incarcerated on this tiny island at the behest of our Government and our Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton has a duty of care for these children (on our behalf). But… myeh! In fact, if you raised the issue in your local pub I wouldn't be very surprised some people had not a clue what you were talking about.

Our Prime Minister sure as hell has not bothered to comment on this issue.

Even if you don’t give a rats about our treatment of refugees, there have been many issues in the past few years that should have received condemnation from our mainstream media organisations from Centrelink’s #robodebt fiasco to Michaelia Cash throwing women under the bus and, of course, the dismissive attitude by both the mainstream media and by our Prime Minister to the Referendum Council's recommendation for an Indigenous voice to Parliament, 'Uluru Statement From The Heart'.

There are many more issues that should have resulted in national outrage with front page splashes that I would consider more newsworthy and – more importantly – in the public interest than a cricket scandal. 

When it comes to outrage, however, our Prime Minister really takes the cake. Within hours of the Australian Men's Cricket Captain Steve Smith holding his rather extraordinary Yeah we cheated, all the leadership team agreed to give it a red hot go, we got pinged, sorry about that, move on media conference, our PM is holding centre stage. Turnbull is all faux concern and indignation, assuring the nation he has had “frank discussions” with Cricket Australia about this “cheating” and urging "decisive action" against the cheaters. Seriously, he actually said “decisive action”!

Remind me, exactly when has our Prime Minister ever taken any “decisive action” in his own backyard? When any of his MPs or Senators are pinged for wrongdoing it's months of media harassment before they even consider "an error has been made". And even then, they will either squirm out of the transgression or, in the case of the s44 drama (looking at you Barnaby Joyce) will fight to the bitter end — claiming nothing to see here, until they are forced to face the music. But, of course, they still don't actually resign or apologise to the Australian public for ripping them off or lying about it. Mr Turnbull never seems interested in any "decisive action" in that regard.

I will give it to Steve Smith, his entitled private-school-boy-type press conference might have really raised my hackles with his attitude of Yeah we did it — get over it. By the way, if I’m doing down, so are the rest of the leadership team, but at least the media did not have to hound him and the team for months to get this admission, unlike our entitled private school boy Prime Minister. Though, like PM Turnbull's "form", Steve Smith, as captain of the team seems to not think it is his responsibility, nor should he fall on his sword with this cheating happening under his leadership.

The Prime Minister’s towering hypocrisy in his response to this cricket scandal can’t be ignored. Though I would hazard a guess that he is hoping this story runs and runs as he sure does not want anyone looking at the latest Newspoll figures with front page splashes of “One to go”.

I also think we need to have a good hard look at ourselves as a nation if this, a ball-tampering scandal in a cricket match, which, let’s face it, is not even the Ashes, unites Australian citizens, media and politicians in outrage.

Yes, it is big news but what does it say about our priorities as a nation? We might have a better government and nation in general if our PM and his Government was held to the same standards of integrity as our National Men's Cricket Team.

Read more from Noely Neate on her blog YaThink?, or follow her on Twitter @YaThinkN.

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