The Sri Lankan tour of Australia has revealed one side of the game -- there is a lot of unnecessary characterisation by the media, something which does not help boost cricketing ties. And nobody can really claim to be innocent, not even the so-called broadminded commentators of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Sometimes it is downright patronising but nobody, least of all the people who are making the statements, seems to realise that. It is in bad taste and while nobody, least of all this writer, would like to suggest that only superlatives be employed or that people be politically correct all the time, some of this talk is nothing short of incendiary.
Tony Greig, for one, has this irritating habit of referring to the Sri Lankans as "little". I don't think that it has anything to do with their cricketing ability. Greig would not be too thrilled if people began referring to him as the beanpole commentator, would he? Does his commentary have anything to do with his height? Almost as much as the height of the Sri Lankans has to do with their cricket, would be the reply.
Then we have condescending blokes like Jim Maxwell and Keith Stackpole. One afternoon I listened to them during a one-day encounter and came away thinking that if Sri Lankan commentators ever did anything similar, there would be a lot of flak flying one way. Maxwell had obtained the meaning of the Sri Lankan players' names and he was intent on getting his two cents worth of humour out of it. It is probably beyond his ken to understand that not everybody has a name with two syllables. More than anything it is an indicator of his lack of education.
But this does not deter Maxwell and his ilk. There was merry fun made of every bloke in the Sri Lankan side that day. Would these commentators dare to refer to the West Indies in such manner? Would they dare do it with England? No, for there would be a backlash and a pretty harsh one too. Sri Lanka are fair game for they have few defenders this side of the world.
Cricket writers, no matter whether they are from the supposedly liberal newspapers, or the tabloids from the Murdoch stable, excel in vituperatives. Everything except cricket figures in their writing and putdowns are the end result. It is not surprising that there are hardly any cricket writers worth their salt in Australia as a result. It appears to be some kind of national disease, this business of trying to win proxy wars with touring teams.