Toned down aggression following ‘Bhajjigate’ has hit Australia’s performance: Marsh

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

SYDNEY - Fears of a backlash from Cricket Australia and the public following the bitter Sydney Test against India in 2008 has been exploited by rival teams touring Down Under, according to the Australian Cricketers’ Association.

Australia claimed a dramatic final-day victory against India at the SCG in 2008, but the result was quickly forgotten as a racism storm saw India threaten to boycott the remainder of the tour.

Following Stuart Clark’s column in which he wrote of the Australian team’s identity crisis since the 2008 SCG encounter, ACA chief executive Paul Marsh admitted the performance of the side has suffered since players were told to tone down their aggression in the immediate aftermath of that match.

A rediscovered aggression was on display in Perth last week and Australia produced one of their finest performances in years, The Sydney Morning Herald quoted him, as saying.

“I think there’s no doubt the team’s performance has been affected. Hard, aggressive cricket is in the Australian team’s DNA and unfortunately the players started second-guessing their natural instincts in the heat of battle for fear of reprisal from CA or a public backlash from the vocal minority,” Marsh said.

“I know for a fact that many of the opposition teams were seeking to exploit what they now saw as a weakness in the Australian team,” he said.

The demonstrative on-field behaviour of the Australians in 2008, as much as the racism row involving Harbhajan, provoked outrage among Indian supporters and debate in the media.

Marsh said a subsequent meeting of CA and the players resulted in a major change in the Australians’ on-field attitude and this had been a major factor behind some of their more timid performances.

“There was a directive given by CA that the team needed to change its on-field behaviour. At the time many of the players disagreed with this directive,” he said.

Australian coach Tim Nielsen said the toning down of aggression followed the backlash but also a changing of the guard. (ANI)

Filed under: Cricket

will not be displayed