It’s rather ironic that following yesterday’s email celebrating Adam Gilchrist, the world’s number one batman, that the same man finds himself in rather hot water today. I have provided links below in case you care to read about it for yourself. The short of it is that during a speaking engagement in Melbourne yesterday, Gilchrist rather gently expressed his opinion that Sri Lankan off spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan was a chucker. Which is true but is an opinion which is contrary to the official ICC position. The ACB has decided to charge Gilchrist with being in breach of the ACB Code of Behaviour.
The ACB sites the following clause as being central to the charge:
Rule 10 of Section 1 in the ACB Code of Behaviour states:
Detrimental public comment
Players and officials must not make any public or media comment which is detrimental to the interests of the game or to a tour or series of matches in which they are or are likely to be involved.
I am outraged by this and generally speaking, I am against the whole concept of limiting players and officials rights to express an opinion. Rugby League is a classic case of where it is completely out of hand with players and coaches “bringing the game into disrepute” with the most minor utterances about referees and the like. I would encourage you all to email the ACB and support Gilchrist. I will be. I have had some experience with communicating about sensitive issues diplomatically and graciously. So, for those of you who don’t have time, my letter will look something like this (please feel free to use copy and paste):
Dear ACB members
I am contacting you regarding your decision to charge Adam Gilchrist with “being in breach of the ACB Code of Behaviour”. I have read comments reportedly made by Adam Gilchrist on the bowling action of Muttiah Muralitharan and agree that they do clearly indicate, albeit rather gently, that Gilchrist believes that Muralitharan’s action is illegal. I am aware that the ICC has officially cleared the action of Muralitharan. I also appreciate that the controversy surrounding the action of Muralitharan in the Australian summer of 1995-96 and that it significantly contributed to the strained relationship with the Sri Lankan cricket team at that time.
I also appreciate that the ACB has a strong desire to retain the status of the most archaic and recalcitrant sporting governing body in the country. This has been clearly demonstrated over the years by your unwillingness to give players appropriate input into key decision making processes and your enthusiasm to ensure that the players are the lowest paid sportsmen in the land (when player salaries are expressed as a percentage of the industry’s total worth).
That aside, the notion that a player should be disciplined for expressing an opinion is un-Australian and is against the principle of the freedom of speech in our western society. Presumably, the ACB believes that Adam Gilchrist’s actions were detrimental to the good of the game because his opinions are in contradiction to cricket’s governing body – the ICC. Why are they detrimental? I can only imagine that the logic is that public opinion will be affected by Gilchrist’s comments and that the cricketing public will be less supportive of cricket for some reason.
It may come as a surprise to the ACB that all cricket fans have an opinion on whether or not Muralitharan is a “chucker”, and that some of those opinions may not agree with the ICC. The implication in charging Adam Gilchrist is that the cricketing public is too stupid to make up its own mind and will be mindlessly lead by Gilchrist’s comments. I personally find this insulting.
The ACB should also realise that it is the players that make the game. No one player is above the game but without the players, we have nothing. Not only has Adam Gilchrist been a wonderful player for Australia, his behaviour on and off the field has been exemplary and I support him fully. I would suggest that the actions of the ACB are detrimental to the game. I am disenchanted with the sport’s governing body and am now considering not patronising any matches next summer – that is detrimental to the game and it is the responsibility of the ACB.
In my opinion, what constitutes being in breach of the “ACB Code of Conduct” should be urgently reviewed and updated to the 21st century. Players should be allowed latitude to express opinions on issues – this places trust and faith in the valued cricket players and also acknowledges that the cricketing public has some sort of intelligence and can think for themselves.
The ACB’s email address is (hosted by Cricinfo) firstname.lastname@example.org If you wish to contact the ACB by post, send mail to:
Australian Cricket Board
60 Jolimont Street
Links relating to the Gilchrist
ACB media release: