When it comes to disciplining its players, Cricket Australia wield a big stick. As reported today, Australian spinner Stephen O’Keefe has been hit with a $20,000 fine after making what are described as ‘highly inappropriate comments’ while drunk at a Cricket NSW function.
Cricket Australia Executive General Manager Pat Howard is quoted as saying, “There is no time or place for unacceptable behaviour from any of our players in Australian Cricket, and we continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to this.”
Drink Tank isn’t passing judgement on the charges, other than to say that it is entirely acceptable that Cricket Australia hold its players – role models to Aussie kids – to the highest standards of behaviour.
But our thoughts go out to all the ‘O’Keefes’ of Australia who play professional cricket or football; so many who have stumbled in the past, and who will fall again in coming months.
Because in their defence – when they look to their respecting sporting codes – cricket, AFL or NRL, they have a lousy role model.
Cricket’s long running love affair with alcohol has meant its playing grounds, and even its players, have been plastered in beer ads. Channel Nine’s commentary team spruik beer brands during the telecasts, and beer brands feature in the ad breaks in between. The sponsor’s beer flows freely in the dressing rooms and at Cricket Australia functions around the country.
That’s the beer-soaked environment these sporting codes have created and financially benefitted from.
But for Cricket Australia it’s long been a case of do as I say, not do as I do.
Unfortunately there’s nothing new in the hypocrisy that sees Cricket Australia wrap its arms around big alcohol, then act outraged and surprised when its drunken athletes behave badly.
O’Keefe has reportedly apologised unreservedly, saying, “There is no excuse for this and I take full responsibility and offer an unconditional apology.”
While O’Keefe may have learnt his lesson, Cricket Australia which recently announced its new beer sponsor, Lion, has clearly still learnt nothing.