Gregor Paul 's Opinion

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul: Taylor stuff is small beer

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Ross Taylor. Photo / AP
Ross Taylor. Photo / AP

Cricket is corrupt in every sense. It is broken beyond any hope of being fixed.THE ONLY surprise about the Ross Taylor fiasco and subsequent fallout is that so many were surprised that such a shambolic state of affairs could develop.

All that outrage, disbelief and incredulity that the captain of the national team could be removed in such a dreadfully clumsy and botched fashion ... please, where has everyone been?

Goodness gracious, a major bungle in cricket - quelle surprise. Are memories so short or is everyone so pious that they have conveniently forgotten the endless scandals, stuff-ups and general corruption that are a permanent part of cricket?

Surely all the venting this last week is being done for form's sake rather than any genuine sense of outrage?

It seems strange that Martin Crowe chose to metaphorically burn his New Zealand cricket blazer in the wake of the Taylor scandal when there were so many more lasting and damaging scandals to choose from.

Why now? Why not when Mark Waugh and Shane Warne were dubiously involved with 'John the Bookmaker' back in the mid-1990s? Why not when former Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room after the 2007 World Cup in supposedly suspicious circumstances? Why not over the spot fixing scandal in 2010 with the three Pakistan players? Why not over the Hansie Cronje match-fixing disgrace?

Seriously, the Taylor stuff is small beer - par for the course in a sport that is almost a parody these days. The moral compass went haywire some time ago and even in New Zealand, there have been much bigger scandals to get het up about.

What about when Sir Richard Hadlee infamously kept the Alfa Romeo for himself, breaking the gentleman's agreement that all prizes and prizemoney would be pooled, sold and split evenly among the team? Or the dope smoking debacle in 1994, when Stephen Fleming, Dion Nash and Matthew Hart were hung out to dry by team-mates and management - their honesty punished by a gutless crew who hid behind it.

So really we have been staring at a molehill these last few weeks wrongly believing it was a mountain. The sad truth in all this, the only conclusion to be reached, is that cricket is destined to be forever beset by scandal, incompetence and hijacked by Machiavellian characters and general Charlatan-like behaviour.

This latest escapade of treachery is just one more chapter in a long and rather shameful history.

Cricket, whether it be in New Zealand or globally, is quite fantastically corrupt in every sense. It is broken beyond any hope of being fixed.

So much is wrong, where do you begin trying to fix it? What even is cricket these days? Is it tests, one-dayers, Twenty20s? Who knows? It just seems to be one amorphous blob of bowling and batting - actually, not so much batting as swinging and slashing.

If Crowe really wanted a worthy cause on which to mount his despair, how about the total absence of cultured stroke makers on the national scene? The art of forging and crafting a big score has almost been lost entirely and no one cares because a big slog out of the ground is what keeps the masses happy. How long before T20 is considered too long and dull for the modern attention span to cope?

And that, ultimately, is at the core of cricket's problem. It has been reinvented as a sport for the vacuous. It has remodelled itself to suit Generation Y, created a culture of instant gratification. Essentially, it has lost its soul.

The Indian Premier League typifies much of what is wrong; huge sums paid to players who have virtually no emotional attachment to the teams they represent. That's ugly - mercenary and unsustainable.

Sport doesn't work when players feel little or nothing for the jersey they wear. There has to be more than just a cheque keeping them there. Cricket doesn't seem to think so and has fostered this idea that athletes are commodities to the extent they are even traded much like oil and coffee, their prices fluctuating in line with demand.

New Zealand Cricket was, in some ways, merely extending the culture of commodity trading in the way it shuffled Brendon McCullum for Taylor.

This particular saga is over but it won't be long before there is another and the last thing anyone should be when the next drama erupts is surprised.

Be surprised if someone jumps out of your fridge, or if butter prices come down or if peace breaks out in Syria, but a cricket scandal ... that's just what happens.

- Herald on Sunday

Gregor Paul

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer. He has written several books on rugby including the Reign of King Henry, Black Obsession and For the Love of the Game.

Read more by Gregor Paul

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