Mistakes Were Made

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Ah yes, the ultimate confession that you make when you’re not making a confession: “Mistakes were made.” This usually means either:

  • “I broke the law;”
  • “I behaved immorally, unethically and disgracefully, but nobody can prove that what I did was actually illegal;” or, if a corporate spokesperson is speaking,
  • “We could have screwed our customers, our employees and/or the government almost as efficiently, and without all this hassle from the media, if we’d been a tad less greedy.”

The latest “mistake” to hit the Australian headlines has been ball-tampering. That’s cricket ball-tampering, by roughing up one side with sandpaper to make it swing more. Shining up the other side by rubbing it on your thigh is OK – it’s “cricket” in the old-fashioned sense of being fair and sportsmanlike – but roughing up by artificial means is definitely “not cricket.”

The roughing up took place in South Africa, where the Australian team were playing the home team and doing very badly. Ball-tampering was a desperate response to a dire situation. Losing a test match by a wide margin angers Australian fans, and even people who aren’t very interested in cricket but recognise the national cricket team as their personal representatives – gladiators, one might say, in the global arena. It’s also likely to reduce the number of zeroes on sponsors’ cheques.

Three players, including the Captain, confessed and were shipped home in disgrace. They fronted the cameras, broke down in tears, and admitted to … having made a mistake.

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