Paul Thomas: Porn in press box? Not if Black Caps were playing

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But maybe this episode is more about the cricket than the porn. Photo / Getty Images
But maybe this episode is more about the cricket than the porn. Photo / Getty Images

When you reach a certain age having acquired a degree of worldliness along the way, there aren't many news items that make your jaw drop.

But there was one this week: a report that a cricket writer had watched hard-core pornography on his laptop in the Melbourne Cricket Ground press box while covering the second Australia-West Indies test.

When did consuming porn cease to be a private activity? To put it another way: given that titillation is porn's raison d'etre, what's the rationale for consuming it in public?

The anonymous cricket writer certainly isn't the first person to watch porn in the workplace but again this is traditionally done behind closed doors or after everyone else has left for the day.

The only precedent which comes to mind is that of Sydney stockbroker David Kiely who in 2010 set a new benchmark for getting sprung.

As a colleague was doing a live TV interview from their open-plan office, Kiely could be seen in the background ogling images of a near-naked Victoria's Secret model.

Kiely's job was on the line but public opinion was firmly on his side. One of the "Save Dave" campaign's main arguments was that it wasn't hard-core porn, a point borne out by the media's obliging coverage of Victoria's Secret product launches.

And there was no suggestion that Kiely made a habit of getting bullish over the lingerie sector. In contrast, the cricket writer watched porn on and off throughout an entire day's play and would've done so on day two if he hadn't been told to knock it off.

Perhaps it was a case of a late developer wanting to get up to speed, given the claims that teenagers are increasingly getting their sex education from porn. (That would, in its own way, be as unhelpful as the sex ed films, apparently produced by Ministry of Agriculture vets, inflicted on earlier generations.)

Or perhaps it's a reflection of porn's shift from the furtive fringe into the mainstream and a sign of things to come: a child of the porn era who regards viewing it as a normal, everyday activity, just another electronic interaction, and therefore nothing to be defensive about, let alone ashamed of.

If so, he's ahead of the curve because I don't think things have changed that much in the six years since former Labour Cabinet minister Shane Jones was demoted for hiring porn movies while staying in hotels on government business. Officially his offence was misuse of a ministerial credit card but the media and public saw it differently, hence the "Minister of Sleaze" headlines.

But maybe this episode is more about the cricket than the porn.

Being paid to watch sport is many a sports fan's dream but familiarity can breed contempt. I once heard a prominent English cricket writer lament that he loved the game until he had to watch it and write about it for a living.

Then there's the fact that the West Indies are now so poor and the series was so one-sided that it's hardly surprising those who had to sit through every minute of it cast around for distractions.

A more dedicated correspondent might have alleviated the boredom by preparing an in-depth backgrounder on the political, economic and socio-cultural factors behind the West Indies' stunning decline from juggernaut to joke. As of October 1997 and on the back of a quarter century of near-total dominance, the West Indies had won 49 more tests than they'd lost; they've now lost 13 more than they've won.

One person who should've been cheered rather than appalled by this story is New Zealand Cricket chief David White.

It's a travesty that the West Indies gained top billing in Australia's 2015/16 cricket programme meaning they, rather than the Black Caps, got to take part in the time-honoured ritual of the Boxing Day test. If White is worth his salt, he would've been straight on the phone to his Aussie counterpart making the point that if Brendon McCullum and the Black Caps had been on show at the MCG, not even the most jaded hack would've taken their eyes off the ball.

- NZ Herald

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