Hard but fair.
That’s how Western chairman Mark Frecklington sees cricket in this zone being played, adding the toxic “win at all costs” mentality that proved the undoing of former Australian skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner is nonexistent west of the Blue Mountains.
On Monday Cricket Australia released its findings from an independent review entitled ‘A Matter of Balance’, which summarised the views of over 450 people and proposed a number of recommendations in a bid to both reinstall people’s faith in the game and mend the Test team’s tarnished brand following the ball tampering debacle in South Africa.
The review painted a grim picture of the culture within Cricket Australia and the key psychology of elite men’s cricket but Frecklington believes those same issues aren’t a problem in the west.
Also the Orange District Cricket Association (ODCA) president and the Mitchell Cricket Council (MCC) chairman, Frecklington is confident cricketers within these boundaries uphold the spirit of cricket, and always will.
“I think we play hard cricket without going over the top,” he said.
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“And I think that has to do with guys knowing each other pretty well. Everyone plays against each other for their clubs but then with each other at higher rep levels.”
Smith, Warner and rookie opening bat Cameron Bancroft are currently serving lengthy bans after being found guilty of ball tampering in South Africa earlier this year.
The trio will miss all of this home summer – Australia’s first on home soil since sandpapergate – and an inexperienced Australian team will take on India and Sri Lanka in Tests in the wake of the whole saga.
Winning will almost play second fiddle to the way in which Tim Paine’s side conducts itself on the field.
Frecklington, though, says that’s not a bad thing.
Winning is the obvious goal for any team but no side, particularly in country cricket, is “playing for sheep stations”.
“Cricket has to be played hard but it’s also social around here and I can’t see that changing,” he said.
“Winning’s high on the agenda, but it’s also about enjoying your cricket. If you come off the field thinking ‘what the hell am I doing out here’ then it’s probably time to change.
“I think it’s good that the review is out though, it’s finished. The game can move on from it and the findings.”
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