Cricket-Country

Following Australia’s Ashes 2015 debacle, former legend Ian Healy came out in public and held the wives and girlfriends of the current Australian squad for the team’s dismal performance in England. This is not the first time Healy has voiced such a conservative and baffling opinion. For someone who has  played for Australia and understands the tenacity and hardships of international cricket, and the pressure of playing overseas while being away from friends and family, this comes as a surprise. Modern-day cricketers remain under constant scrutiny; it comes as a big disappointment and almost sickening to see someone who knows the drill. Sudatta Mukherjee questions Healy’s judgement and wonders what made him say such sordid words.

It will not be an exaggeration to call Ian Healy a legend. He was part of six Ashes victories and broke Rod Marsh’s record of 355 Test dismissals. He was also Australia’s vice-captain during Mark Taylor’s reign. Coincidentally, Healy’s niece Alyssa plays for Australia’s Southern Stars and is also the fiancée of pacer Mitchell Starc. READ: Australia should pick Brad Haddin for Oval Test to give him proper send-off

Why is all this important?

Healy, after Australia’s Ashes 2015 loss to England, went on record to state the one of the reasons (and probably the biggest according to him) for his Australia’s loss in Ashes 2015 was the presence of wives and girlfriends, or, to steal a common acronym, WAGs. Healy feels WAGs have been a distraction throughout ages, and their presence is the main reason why Australia lost. READ: Australia’s humiliating 1st innings is reminiscent of Brazil’s 1-7 loss to Germany

“Your mind needs to be completely focused on it. Cricket is a sport that requires complete concentration. You need everything going for you and I’m not sure they’re pushing for that hard enough.” Healy said.  “Their hearts might not be that strong … are they together as a team? Do they fragment from here? Do they meet and talk about it tonight? Will they confront it?”

Dear Mr Healy, I beg to differ. Do you mean the men who don the Baggy Green are not strong enough at heart to actually focus on cricket when they need to? Do you mean the WAG, which also includes your niece Alyssa, are distractions, and their presence is the reason why Australian cricketers may not have been pushing too hard to win the Ashes? READ: Michael Clarke lived by the sword and died by it

I mean, come on! How childish can you get? Cricketers spend months away from their families. There is immense pressure of winning and giving it all amidst immense scrutiny and dissection by media. Do you think these cannot be reasons for failure? READ: Michael Clarke’s shocking retirement will make Australia poorer

Of all people you know what happens when a senior and experienced cricketer is suddenly dropped because certain people in the management feels young blood needs to get chance! It is discouraging and it can demoralise the biggest of the players and sportspersons! Of all the people, you should have understood that!

Don’t you remember Dale Steyn confessing how difficult it is for women in relationship with sportspersons? These were his exact words: “It’s really tough. You’re spending a big chunk of your life away from home, never quite sure whether you’re coming or going.” Even AB de Villiers mentioned about the importance of having family members while on tour. It is a huge support system!

It was not expected from someone of your stature, Mr Healy. Rather than blaming the ones who give up everything and travel to be with their husbands and boyfriends, you should have concentrated on talking about the real reasons of Australia’s pathetic performance.

Do you really think that the WAGs were responsible for batsmen being unable to adapt to English conditions and getting bowled out for embarrassing totals? Or for bowlers struggling to swing the ball and use the conditions to their favour?

Rather than talking about the personal stuff, you could have concentrated on the sport, and the right reasons on why Australia lost. They lost because they played poor cricket. The WAGs did not go out there to play.

David Warner’s wife Candice said her priority on tour is to ensure her husband was 100 per cent ready for a game every single time:  “It’s a bit of a shame that this is such a huge talking point at the moment when over here [in England] we are laughing at it. The most important thing is the boys. It’s about getting them ready, getting them on the field and making sure they’re 100 per cent ready to go.”

Candice added: “I think a lot of them would be very unhappy if their kids or partners weren’t here because there’s a lot of things we do behind the scenes that people don’t know that help get the boys on the field and make sure they’re in a good mental space. It doesn’t matter if it’s the offseason, when he had a little injury — I was in the pool with him swimming laps. If he needs extra fitness, I’m there. After training, I make sure the bath’s running.”

As a legend of the sport who commands massive respect across the cricket fraternity, you have disappointed us. Please try to put yourself in the shoes of the cricketers. There is no denying they played horribly, but to blame their WAGs for all that happened is, in a way, betraying your brethren. These blokes get immense confidence when a legend like you is all in praise of. On the other hand, their self-belief may be shattered when they do not get any support.

And things only get tougher when the presence of their families in questioned.

Australian cricketers have faltered, underperformed and hence lost Ashes 2015. It is over. Finished. Let us look ahead instead of shredding them into rugs.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English televison show on her laptop. Her Twitter handle is @blackrosegal)