Yet it seems this is a myth and there are more than a few examples to prove it.
It wasn’t all that long ago that key members of our Test cricket team conspired to cheat during a cricket match. Judging by the reaction to Cameron Bancroft, David Warner and Steve Smith by English cricket fans in the first Test at Edgbaston, not all is forgiven yet.
For years our players were seen as overtly aggressive and mean-spirited with their sledging, which at times seemed to lack any hint of humorous banter. This sort of commentary spilled over during the 2013 Ashes series when captain, Michael Clarke, told England’s Jimmy Anderson, to “get ready for a broken f—kin’ arm”.
It’s hard to see the humour in that. Perhaps I missed the joke.
Then there’s the time two of Australia’s greatest ever players, Shane Warne and Mark Waugh, were fined for providing information to an Indian bookmaker during Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka in 1994 in exchange for money. It was largely swept under the carpet, with Australian Cricket Board chief executive Malcolm Speed at great pains to point out, “There is no suggestion whatsoever of any match fixing.”
Of course not, Australians don’t cheat. Do they? Well, only sometimes. In 2016, Australian tennis player Nick Lindahl pleaded guilty to sharing inside information in an alleged scheme to fix a match three years earlier. It’s alleged he told two people he was going to tank the tennis match and that those people were then able to place bets to advantage themselves. Lindahl was handed a seven-year ban.
Our domestic competitions, too, have had to deal with a raft of issues that sit well outside the spirit of sport, namely issues of tanking and, of course, the seemingly never-ending supplement sagas that rocked the AFL and NRL to their very core.
It’s true that the vast majority of Australia’s athletes who compete both here and on the world stage do us proud. But before taking to the pulpit to lecture the rest of the world on how fair and pure we are, think twice because the reality is we’re not that squeaky clean.
Sam Duncan is a lecturer in sports media and marketing.