Okay We Get It. The Poms Are Whingers, Aussies Are Cheaters. In Other News….


Before we head off down ‘that’ path again – you know, the one where we all wake up a week from now with ‘ranter’s regret’ after engaging in lengthy debates about things that mean absolutely nothing – maybe we all should stop, take a breath, and ponder whether cricket is really that important after all, writes Chris Graham.

Last week, Australia was transfixed with the story of a missing submersible containing a rich buffoon and four unfortunate passengers, who were drifting around the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean trying to catch a glimpse of the Titanic.

Alas, their dodgy craft imploded before it could be located and pulled from the water by an armada of planes and ships, who were apparently far less interested in the sinking of a boat in the Mediterranean which claimed the lives of hundreds of asylum seekers.

Now this week, we have the ‘Ashes scandal’, or ‘Stump-gate’ as media have inevitably taken to calling it. You have to wonder just how much fluff a nation can embrace.

This is, I’m told, a sporting tale of extreme importance. National importance, even. One which involves a man in silly white pants rolling a red ball at a set of stumps, while another man in silly white pants walks a few feet away from the stumps when he really shouldn’t have. Apparently, that was because another man (in black pants with a silly white hat) had not yet said the word ‘Over’, thus he was subsequently forced to raise one finger into the air and instead proclaim the word ‘Out’.

All of which sparked an international incident. Or in cricketing parlance, a Pom walked out of his crease and was run out by the wicketkeeper.

Thankfully, this bizarre but thoroughly fascinating and crucially important debate can be resolved in two simple paragraphs.

Paragraph one: Generally speaking, England is crap at sport, especially any sport they claim to have invented, especially cricket. Thus, more often than not they lose to Australia. So it’s not at all surprising they’re crying foul now, even though what happened was common-place, entirely within the rules, and in fact had been attempted by the English side themselves on the first day of the very same test. On top of that, the Poms are known for whinging, which is in fact why we call them ‘whinging Poms’.

Paragraph two: Australians are renowned for cheating, and generally behaving very badly when it comes to sport, especially cricket. Indeed, we have a very long, very proud history of it, whether it’s Australian players directing racial obscenities at other players; Australian fans screaming racial abuse at players; Australian players bowling underarm deliveries to win matches; or Australian players using sandpaper to alter the surface of a ball.

To put not too fine a point on it, if an Australian sporting team were depicted in a Hanna Barbera cartoon, we would be played by Dick Dastardly and/or Mutley. [Note to Ed: Insert Dick Pic here]. Put simply, we are to sport what the Germans are historically to global politics – the bad guys. Thus it’s entirely predictable that England would seek to remind us of that when they lose… or in the words of the Barmy Army yesterday, ‘Same old Aussies, always cheating’. The fact that we didn’t actually cheat on this occasion barely seems worth acknowledging, given our past.

And so there you have it. Scandal resolved… both statements are true, neither cancels the other one out. Let’s move on… except that that appears overly ambitious. The media – and in their defence social media, so, you know, the punters – is awash with people debating the merits of ‘the dismissal’, as though Gough Whitlam himself had once again been sacked, but this time by the Queen herself, rather than simply her representative.

And the feverish debate is not just limited to Australia. Here’s Piers Morgan, England’s most accomplished outrage merchant (and the actual face you see when you look up the phrase ‘whinging Pom’ in the dictionary) waxing lyrical about the issue, apparently unaffected by the irony of him condemning absolutely anything given his past involvement in the UK’s phone hacking scandal.

And on and on it goes….

All of which reminds me of a joke: What does the English cricket team and a boatload of billionaires at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean have in common? They both can’t handle pressure. Tish boom! Howzat!? Got ‘im yes, fuck off, yer out!

Meanwhile, here’s a very small sample of some of the ‘other stories’ we all might have missed while two nations ‘go at it’ over a fucking game.


Israel attacks Palestine… again
Israel is, yet again, launching a massive assault on helpless Palestinians, so far killing at least a dozen people and leaving thousands homeless, with bombing raids and ground attacks. The focus of the Israeli assault is Jenin, in the illegally occupied West Bank. Jenin includes a densely populated refugee camp. Reports The Guardian: “Israel’s motives for launching an attack in the West Bank on a scale not seen since the height of the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, of the 2000s, are widely believed on both sides of the Green Line to be political as much as tactical. There has been growing pressure on the IDF from Israel’s right wing to launch a big operation as a response to the bloodiest year in Israel and the West Bank since 2005: 140 Palestinians and 26 Israelis have been killed so far in 2023.” It’s also a great distraction from the problems confronting Israel’s far right prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who continues to face an ongoing trial over corruption charges.

American support emboldens Israel to commit war crimes, say experts
Reports Al Jazeera, the United States’ “unwavering support for Israel” has “enabled and emboldened the right-wing Israeli government’s escalating violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, analysts say”. “As Israeli forces targeted the densely populated Jenin refugee camp with air attacks and ground raids involving hundreds of troops on Monday, the White House again underscored what it called Israel’s ‘right to defend’ itself.”

Syrian leader accused of creating brutal paramilitary group
War crimes investigators from the Commission for International Justice and Accountability – an independent non-profit established in 2011 from European state funds – allege that Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria created the ‘shabbiha’ militia in order to violently crack down on opponents during the Arab Spring. Al Jazeera reports: “In a report, the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA) published seven documents its investigators said showed the highest levels of Syria’s government ‘planned, organised, instigated and deployed’ the ‘shabbiha’ from the start of the war in 2011.” Their atrocities included storming the rebel town of Houla and massacring 108 people, including 34 women and 49 children. Sixty members of one family were allegedly summarily executed in broad daylight.

US presidential hopeful releases blatantly homophobic attack video
He’s trailing badly in the polls, so Florida governor and US presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis has dropped any pretence of respecting other peoples’ rights by releasing an attack video described by as “homophobic”, even by deeply conservative Republicans. In an extraordinary ‘race to the bottom’, DeSantis, who is trying to style himself as even more right-wing and narcissistic than Donald Trump, published the video this week claiming he was far harder on the rights of the LGBTQI community than his political opponent.

Crop failure risks from climate change underestimated, study claims
A major study published this week in Nature Communications magazine warns that experts around the world have underestimated the challenges of widespread and multiple global crop failures in the face of a changing climate. The report warns: “Simultaneous harvest failures across major crop-producing regions are a threat to global food security. Concurrent weather extremes driven by a strongly meandering jet stream could trigger such events, but so far this has not been quantified.”

Security Officers Repeatedly Stomp On Man’s Head In South Africa
Police brutality is commonplace in South Africa, with more than 5,000 complaints every year. But it appears the violence inflicted by security officers for deputy president Paul Mashatile was too much even for a nation numbed by police violence after they were filmed stomping on a man’s head repeatedly, even after he lost consciousness.

GoFundMe For French Cop Who Killed Teen Tops $1m
A French police officer who shot dead a teenager as he attempted to flee a traffic stop, sparking multiple riots that spread across the country over the past week, is at least $1 million richer, after a GoFundMe page launched in his honour passed the $1 million mark (963,000 euros). The page was set-up by Jean Messiha, a former adviser to the extreme right-wing French politician Marine Le Pen. On June 27, the accused cop shot into a car being driven by Nahel Merzouk, aged 17, who died shortly after.

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.