Blame: Why a sportsperson cheats

Like most people I was disappointed to hear of the events in Cape Town. I got the letter from Cricket Australia in my inbox, I saw the Prime Minister using the event to deflect attention from his latest poll debacle. I wondered what could have compelled the Australian cricket team to cheat.

Before the disappointment turned to anger I paused to remember the multiple times that this has happened in the last 30 years. The media was literally talking about the opposing captain’s own experience before the start of the test match.

I wondered why we as Australians, hadn’t rallied around the team like the South African players, public, administration and media had for du Plessis. It seemed like we were searching for someone to blame for some deep national shame, rather than accept that the punishment for the crime would be a fair and proportionate.

When searching from blame humans tend to externalise their focus, typically they pick factors outside of their control. For du Plessis it was the ambiguity of the law, for Warner it was de Kock’s poor choice of words and vice versa, for Rabada it was Smith not having the foresight to avoid his oncoming shoulder. Yet when we look for blame elsewhere we cannot fix the problem we have within ourselves, we just push it to the side.

Smith showed maturity in owning his mistake, albeit after being caught. It was him! He did it! So move on, right? It seems not. The feeling of national shame lingers on. If the blame has been properly laid and the punishment handed out, then why the continued outrage?

Where does the blame truly lie? For Australia and Australian’s the blame lies solely with us.

The blame lies with us because of our expectations and our demands. It lies with people who demand a culture of success despite the adversity of over-packed schedules, variant conditions and the constant threat that stalks all sportsmen, acrimonious firing without recourse to a fair work ombudsman.

The blame lies with us for expecting 20 somethings, whose greatest talent is manipulating the placement of a small round sphere, to make wise decisions. Not smart decisions. The smart decision in the modern game, where home field advantage is paramount, is to take drastic measures.

The blame lies with people who view celebrities, who they have never met, as role models. Instead of looking up to Uncle Gary who never missed a day at the factory or Grandma who drove supply trucks during the Second World War.

The blame lies with us for forgetting that teams will win, teams will lose. The placement at the top of a pile is not the result of lack of effort but in most cases the luck of the draw.

The blame lies with us for not demanding the resignation of a central cricket administration that instead of doing what they should: organising tours and paying players remains the arbiter of all things to do with cricket in this country.

The blame lies with us for allowing ex-players, who have no comprehension of the challenges of the modern day sportsperson, to form our opinions. People who believe that their legacy is affected by the actions of those who come after them, will always judge their successors with the same oppressive standards which they bucked so violently against.

Most of all the blame lies with us for allowing the media such an unfettered license to go after any one that steps outside of the bounds of what they consider to be ‘correct behaviour’. Cheating should not be tolerated, but the reaction has been so disproportionate that one would think Smith et al. had fixed a game, got into a fight at a nightclub, took banned substances or, exposed himself in public.

As Australians we don’t like feeling like we do much wrong. We are the underdogs, fighting upwards and overcoming adversity, but the sad truth is that expectation is not realistic. It creates an expectation of success that becomes impossible for the people to live up to.

It results in desperation and despair from players who, when their careers end, have little else in their lives.

For this and much more the blame lies with us.

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Posted in Problems

The arborist’s first grandchild (one in, one out)

Small shite

it grows in the light
a forest of green
in a bucket of skyfe
twisting onward
and upward
in fat porkers flight
from a puddle of blue
and the suns lonely sight
burley will bait
spare roots will bite
as your column flies skyward
as an overdrawn kite
fly on my sweet beauty
push on with your might
on to the heavens
away from the fight
lest fury should take you
seek end to your life

my wilted hands trembling
won’t protect from the night

young seed from my branch
you will grow to great heights
with the blood I will leave
at the fall of death’s scythe

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Posted in Green Swamp road, Shorter

We are bastards

So.. the Abbott government (Australia for our foreign friends) released it’s first budget overnight.

Personally this budget hasn’t really affected me. I’m unlikely to lose my job, my uni fees are all on hecs-help not fee-help and I’ll be finished with all my study by 2016. I’m not on welfare, my GP super clinic already demands a co-payment and I don’t earn enough to get slugged by a levy.

If I lived in a world by myself, it would be one where the deistic clutches of the pantheon of governments dipped into my savings every now and again just to make sure I was maintaining a humble countenance.

But we don’t live in a world by ourselves, we don’t live outside of societies, when one of us suffers it should affect everyone around us. It’s a principle that seemed quite apparent growing up through the recession of the early 90’s, but it’s one that seems to have been shoved to the back of our collective minds by the growth of the middle class.

It’s a principle that now only seems to be trotted out every time a flood or fire rips through our towns, and is accredited to the strength of the “aussie spirit”, “mateship” and “community”, then is conveniently forgotten when we pass a man lying in a back alley trying to warm himself with the last remants of his clothes.

The ‘Aussie spirit’ wasn’t around when we  cut Australia’s foreign aid, indeed  of most of the announcements made this one seems to have been the least surprising. Given the government went into the last election with this policy and won, it is not surprising the coverage for this tragic betrayal of global responsibility has got such limited press.

The ‘Aussie Spirit’ wasn’t around when we cut the National Homelessness Research strategy, National Rental Affordability Scheme or made payment of the Disability Support Pension reliant on your ability to find work.

The ‘Aussie Spirit’ certainly wasn’t around when a group of local thugs entered a refugee camp that was bankrolled by Australia and started beating the detainees.

And it certainly isn’t around every time some jumped up prick, decides to make an over-arching generalisation about anyone who receives government assistance.  I’ve had enough of people telling me that the good people I know who need help are either lazy, stupid or on drugs. It’s bullshit and if you believe what you are saying then you are a shithead of the highest order.

In the end if we are affluent we have the responsibility to become informed, if we are informed and the let same evils befall the most vulnerable in our society we are responsible.

If we do not accept responsibility then we are greedy, we are callous and we are cruel.

We are bastards.

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Posted in Problems


Stitches seep across burnt skin
wounds that weep ounce sewing pins
sinew shapes turn sutured tracks
along yellow shoulders, down purple back

Green flesh cluttered, bruised by ink
glimmering in bronze it starts to sink
red clumps of hair arranged in nines
blink blankly between veinal vines

Joints turned to crack obediently rise
and lurch apart with tremorous cries
caloussed trenches tinged with grey
hungrily yearn for the end of day

but while light basks the lips
of patchwork lands
stitches pop from the body
held in shaking hands

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Posted in Green Swamp road


Split toes crumbling, crack,
as the body rots
appendages are the first to go

Lepered flowers snap,
under bruised leather boots
that rip holes in the turf

A shattered femur smells sweetly,
when placed in cold water
it doesn’t smell at all

She looks lovely,
with a rope around her ankles,

Flayed to the bone,
hocks torn apart,
placed neatly to the side

Digestive clumps,
slop into feed buckets,
splattering filthy muzzles

Then the warm hand of kindness
pats my shivering hair,

Leaves salty gore, tumbling,
sliding into my ear,
tickling my neck

The rutting boar squeals,
as we finish his job
and thump the cleaver back into the fence.

Kindness sniffs the air:

I smell semen,
better get the mother
before we go


*The universe doesn’t care about separating out the worst moments from the best people. The are all meshed into one.

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Posted in Green Swamp road

Slugs are allergic

It croaks as it’s dying,
body sunken,
when it wriggles,
it jiggles,
and rolls its side in upon itself
like a three day drunk

On the sun bleached verandah
it whispers a stain of emeralds,
trickling upward, in bursts
while cremated flesh
bleeds into floor

For Toby to lick,
then spit out with disgust
his tongue turning,
trying to escape the filth

It seems to burn,

perhaps I will burn too,
and this face,
without trace,
though plasticine cased,
will bleed into humanities soup.


What happens to a body can often surprise and horrify us, perhaps make us question our own capacity to keep our atoms in one place.

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Posted in Green Swamp road

Half Done (or the song of the editor)

A new thought is a whisper,
an action is a scream.

They breed delight, they cause havoc,
they grow if the room is big enough,
they echo if no-one is listening,

they beat on the inside of the skull
or they break across the outside,
if they stop, so do we all.

They form a doubtful oligarchy,
sitting on the brain stem,
they censor and critique;

or callus’ of rejection;
that cover the fingers, the arms,
the head.

The fear of being seen as half- baked, half-brewed or half-witted is always present;
but when you’re half done, you cry, you bellow and you whine.

Until you’re released,
and the oligarchy will confer
and the callus’ will form.

But while thought is an option
and action obligatory,
I cannot leave you half

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Posted in Shorter