International Cricket

England agree to pre-series handshake as Australia aim to heal wounds of ball-tampering scandal

Australia captain Tim Paine is on a charm offensive following the revelations of Australian cheating on their tour of South Africa in March.

Australia captain Tim Paine says his players will shake hands with their England rivals before Wednesday’s clash at The Oval as the tourists aim to heal the wounds of their recent ball-tampering scandal.

Paine is on a charm offensive following the revelations of Australian cheating on their tour of South Africa in March.

Ahead of Australia’s one-day international meeting with England – their first competitive match since the scandal – Paine asked Eoin Morgan if the teams could have a pre-match handshake on the field.

England one-day captain Morgan has agreed to the request, but only for the opening game of the five-match series.

“They don’t have to do it but it’s something we want to bring in at the start of a series, not before every game,” Paine said on Tuesday.

Australia skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner were banned for a year over the ball-tampering incident in the third Test against South Africa, paving the way for Paine to take over the captaincy.

Cameron Bancroft, who doctored a ball with sandpaper during South Africa’s win in Cape Town, was also banned for nine months by Cricket Australia.

Australia head coach Darren Lehmann lost his job after the shocking incident that rocked the sport.

Morgan confirmed England will agree to Australia’s request, with the hosts ready to help advance a positive view of the game after such a torrid period.

“I’m absolutely happy with that, it doesn’t bother me,” Morgan said.

“They are trying to turn around the image of the game in their country, and we’re all for that.

“We want cricket to be as popular as ever.”

Australia know they must build bridges across the cricketing world in order to repair reputations and trust.

New Australia coach Justin Langer has vowed his team will respect the line between banter and abuse in the series against England.

Australian values

Former captain Adam Gilchrist has insisted it would be “business as usual” for Australia on the sledging front as soon as they come under pressure.

But Paine concedes Australia must prove they are reformed characters.

“I can’t talk about it any more to be honest, we’ve talked about what’s acceptable from our team and what people are saying from outside our team doesn’t really matter,” Paine said.

“Internally we know what’s right and what’s wrong, and that’s what counts.

“Again we’ve spoken about this a lot in the last few months; we are aware that words are just words. We’ll be judged solely on our actions going forward.

“It’s now about living our actions, we’ve spoken about internally about our values as a team and how we want to be perceived by the Australian public and by the cricket public in general.

“Words are words, come Wednesday, it’s time for us to act on those words and show it by actions.”

Maintaining the theme of a new era of harmony between old rivals notorious for their bitter battles on the field, Morgan insisted England wouldn’t use the ball tampering as an excuse to bait the Australians.

Asked if England would use the incident in sledging, Morgan said: “No. If you look at it in that, it probably could be ammunition. It will be service as usual.

“We play our cricket pretty hard, positively, aggressively, so we’ll continue to do that.

“I’m expecting a tough series. Every time we’ve played against Australia, the side we’ve come up against has played hard, tough cricket, so we’ll expect that as well.”

Jos Buttler will return to an England team still recovering from Sunday’s shock six-run defeat to Scotland.

Morgan said his players must learn from that embarrassing result in Edinburgh when they face Australia.

“It’s no good losing the lesson and the game, you’ve got to take something from it,” he added.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.