‘To me,’ Shane Warne once said, ‘cricket is a simple game.’ Australia’s best-ever bowler may not be a renowned sporting philosopher, but his words echo throughout Gideon Haigh’s latest book. In recent years, governing body Cricket Australia and an army of corporate consultants have sought to complicate the country’s summer game. An alphabet soup of abbreviations – ACPPs, IPPs, PONIs, NPPs, and PPPs – have been developed to re-establish Australia’s position at the pinnacle of world cricket. Yet, as Haigh chronicles in a short book of revealing anecdotes and caustic one-liners, they have instead brought the game to its knees.
Crossing the Line: How Australian cricket lost its way begins and ends at 3 pm, 24 March 2018 in Cape Town. An away series against South Africa was slipping from Australia’s grasp at Newlands Stadium when an incident occurred that sent reverberations around the cricket-playing globe. With Proteas batsman A.B. de Villiers midway through building an imposing advantage, umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth suddenly beckoned two Australian players. Match-tracking website ESPNcricinfo observed at the time: ‘They are having a chat with Cameron Bancroft, and there could be something afoot here.’