This is proving to be a golden year for laughing at Australian sporting fortunes.
The continued spin-offs from the investigation from the body looking into drugs and corruption in Australian sport has led, so far, to the shambles that has resulted in the confusion at the Cronulla Sharks. No doubt there is more to come from that corner.
Then it turns out that the previously massively successful Olympic Swimming team was run like outtakes from a Hangover movie in London last year.
Then, last week, there was the treasure trove that was the implosion of the Australian cricket tour to India. That is the Australian cricket team that has dominated the world game for the previous 20 years, riding on its horse of mental toughness.
So how we laughed when it was announced that four players out of a 16 man squad were ruled out of the third test in a tour of India for the breach of protocol of … not finishing a homework assignment.
You couldn’t make that up really, with the whole ridiculousness of the situation if you tried, and the temptation was to point the finger at some bizarre anal wheel clamping officer policy from Mick Arthur and his Power Point regime in the Australian team setup.
But, like with the Hesson / Taylor saga here, and in fact a lot of political stand-offs, it’s quite possible that both sides in a dispute are equally to blame.
Australian management clearly handled this badly. When you have players causing trouble, and it would appear this was a culmination of a series of brat-like behaviour, in 95% of situations the initial punishment is a fine. Dealt with internally, show them you mean business, hit them where it hurts and get on with it.
But by standing a quarter of your squad down for a crucial test in a series you are coming second in, you not only weaken your playing stocks, but leave all sorts of dirty laundry out to dry. It will also take a long time to heal
And any decision that prolongs the tortured test career of Phil Hughes is hard to justify.
However the players involved must take their fair share of the flak coming out of this too.
It is not as if they did not have the time to write down three sentences. That innings defeat in the second test was all over before lunch on the fourth day so that opened up a decent sized window to complete a homework assignment. This was not an isolated incident either; rather the accumulation of a general attitude of disrespect.
Take Shane Watson, and look at those pictures taken during one of his many promotional photo sessions. It is very hard to get past the widely held view that it is all about Shane Watson. You can tell this by the exaggerated fist-pumps after taking a wicket, and posturing abuse of opposition batsmen. Then he confirmed it by storming off home after the punishment was handed out. And to think he was the vice-captain.
You have to feel for whoever drew the unlucky straw of ending up sitting next to him on the flight back to Brisbane.
Mitchell Johnson has always seemed attracted to controversy. The wild form swings, the high profile wife Jessica Bratich, and a mother who has always blamed his off days on Bratich. There is probably a lot going on inside his head.
Pattinson and Khawaja are new to international cricket and will hopefully learn from this. It was refreshing to see Khawaja’s manager come out and say that he was a silly boy and will do better from now on.
It doesn’t end there though, the ex-players needed to have their say. Ponting came out saying he always found Watson to be a team man etc. That’s not quite the support the team and captain would have been looking for from the immediate past skipper. “To tell the truth I think I understood him and his personality as well as anyone that I ever played with”. Ouch.
Damien Martyn, the man who quit international cricket in mysterious circumstances, said that Micky Arthur can never be a coach because he never played international cricket. Which is, of course, complete rubbish.
Even Allan Border said the punishment was over the top, before claiming it would strengthen the team’s resolve. So he’s covering his options nicely.
And Shane Warne has come out in favour of Shane Warne.
There is so much more to come in this; making Shane Watson captain for the final test highlighted the ridiculousness of it all. It must be a very interesting dressing room.