Thursday, 28 February 2013

Was Ian Redpath Australian Cricket's first Hipster?

Ian Ritchie Redpath played 66 Test matches for Australia and made 4737 runs at an average of 43.45, making him one of Australia's most accomplished openers. Importantly, he also provides me with another great example whenever I'm listing cricketers with higher test averages than Mark Waugh to bored onlookers.

What is underrated about Redders is that he was (in my mind) Australian Cricket's first hipster and if there anything hipsters love, it's being the first to do something. After looking through this photo essay, I am sure you will agree with me that Redpath was cooler than Tyler the Creator riding a fixed gear bike through an organic fruit market. 

Redders had cool facial hair

Whilst it was not yet de rigueur to go the full hipster 'Ned Kelly' beard in the late 70's, Redders was an effortless exponent of facial hair, sporting sideburns that the members of Jet probably had wet dreams about. Sometimes I look at photos of Redders and mistakenly think it's George Harrison. Wrong; Redders  was even cooler than the coolest Beatle, and he never even had to pick up a guitar or listen to what Paul McCartney had to say.

Redders had a sideline job as an Antique Dealer 

If we know anything about hipsters it's that they cannot settle for one job title. Back in the day, hipsters used to be graphic designers or musicians, but now they favour "slashie" titles like "artist/creative director/blogger." Redders was a trendsetter in this regard, and also gets extra points for his 'slashie' addition being a profession totally at odds with what all his cricketing teammates did. Most ran indoor cricket centres, pretended to sell insurance or did 'promo' work. In other words, they were totes mainstream. Not Redders, he was knee-deep in antique lithographs and historical artifacts. He actually turned down a spot on the 1975 Ashes tour because he was too busy with his antiques. And people bagged Adam Voges for staying home to get married...

Literally every time I walk into an antique centre or one of those country junk shops these days, I'm tripping over hipsters fawning over some industrial light fitting that they want to hang in their vegan soul food cafe. Well sucked in guys, Redders was into antiques before you were born. Go home, you lose.

Redders gave Slam Poetry readings before we even knew what that was

Who am I kidding? I still don't even know what Slam Poetry is. I bet that Redders does though because he probably invented it. 

Redders sold out way before it was cool to sell out

The advent of World Series Cricket brought Redders a very deserved pay-day at the end of his career. He actually came out of retirement to play but was no less a pariah to the cricket establishment than any other 'rebel' who joined Packer's "circus". His club side South Melbourne even blacklisted him, confirming my suspicions that nothing good ever happens in that suburb.

This photo shows Redders' foot having just collapsed under the weight of his 'cool'. Actually that's not true, he shredded his Achilles in the first year of WSC whilst bowling to Clive Lloyd. If you claim to have had a cooler injury than that I will call you a liar straight to your face. I'd also like to point out he is wearing Adidas 3-stripe gear about 10 years before Run DMC supposedly made it cool. Yep, Redders was actually hipper to the trends than the world of hip hop.

Perhaps the coolest thing about his WSC years is that even whilst being a 'sell-out' and a rebel, Redders played in the WSC Country Cup games. Supertest's were WAY TOO MAINSTREAM for Redders, you see.

Redders was a hit with the ladies

The central premise of hipsterdom, as far as I can tell, is to present yourself as the coolest specimen alive and thus the most desirable person on the planet. The thing is, Redders didn't even need to resort to such contrivance; women just naturally flocked to be near him and ask him for his autograph. They were only human. Who could blame them?

Redders rode vintage track bikes before they were even vintage

Even if you were skeptical up until this point, you now have to admit that Redders was the head technician in the outbreak of hipsterdom. Every time you see a fashion blogger wheeling along on their fixie with a soy latte in one hand, yell out at them and let them know that Redders was all over that trend 35 years ago. And he didn't even wear a helmet. Helmets are for laggards, not early adopters.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Cricket Australia has a Bash at Integrity

Do you ever get the feeling you’re being personally trolled by James Sutherland? Sometimes I feel like he is doing everything in his power to rile me. It’s as if he’s a rogue operative representing a conglomeration of Australia’s other sporting codes. A mole, if you will. It’s not the worst conspiracy theory; it might explain the amount of ex-AFL staffers he employs.

This week gone by Sutherland was probably cock-a-hoop to unveil the latest addition to his roster of AFL refugees, the recently departed General Manager of Football, Adrian Anderson. Anderson is charged with the task of reviewing the integrity of Cricket Australia as an organization and the Australian game as a whole. To some, this would sound like a canny move; Anderson is a high profile sports administrator from the dominant Australian sporting code. To others, tasking Anderson with enforcing integrity is a little like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of your savings accounts.

Upon Anderson’s appointment, Sutherland said, “Adrian set up the AFL integrity unit and that unit is recognized as a gold standard in Australian sport.” By ‘gold standard’, I assume he is talking about those novelty coins that have chocolate inside.

Sutherland also spoke of the importance of “public faith” in the integrity of sports, yet to even the most casual observer of the AFL in the past year it is hard to imagine that CA could have found a less effective integrity enforcer if it tried. The AFL is currently beset by a major performance enhancing drugs scandal that apparently went undetected for an entire season under Anderson’s eye, and it was the club involved who ended up approaching the AFL to clear the air, rather than the other way around. This came amidst constantly swirling recreational drugs scandals.

The AFL has also just revealed the farcical findings of Anderson’s investigation into Melbourne football club’s alleged “tanking” of games to secure prime draft picks. The essence of those findings was that Melbourne was not guilty but kind of guilty and ‘we can’t really prove anything’ so here’s a $500,000 fine for bringing the game into disrepute. Oh, and in reading out those findings the AFL’s 2IC, Gillon McLachlan, admitted that he didn’t really even know what tanking was. In putting Melbourne on trial, Anderson and the league had in fact convicted themselves of gross organisational inadequacy. Again, this investigation started years after the alleged misdeed and was prompted not by Anderson’s own investigative toil, but by a thoughtless and slightly devious remark from a former Melbourne player in a TV interview that became a talkback lightning rod. Actually, Anderson’s reactionary nature will probably be a great fit down at Jolimont Street.

Anderson’s appointment kind of reminds me of the episode of ‘The Wire’ in which Roland ‘Prez’ Pryzbylewski is quizzed about his suitability to control the wild high school kids of Baltimore as a trainee teacher. Hearing that he’s a recently departed Baltimore City police officer, the Principal can’t get him in a classroom quick enough. What she doesn’t realize or even seek to understand is that Prez was a grossly incompetent in his former job; but the mere fact that he’s “City Police” is all the endorsement she needs. We can only hope that the situation confronting Anderson and Australian cricket now isn’t anything quite so feral as those school kids.

Spot the sports administrator 

Do the administrators of our games conflate the value and resonance of words like “integrity” and “respect” among the fans of their games? And if fans really do care for these virtues, do they not choke at the sight of such risible notions as the AFL’s “Respect for Women Policy” which arose during Anderson’s time with the league? It is a policy that clearly must have been scribbled on the back of a drinks coaster, such is its effect. In Anderson’s time at the AFL, they always appeared to be keen on leading the national debate on issues that they were often laughably incapable of tackling. I hope the task he is set at CA is a little more realistic.

Australian sport loves an enquiry and a public shaming these days. Usually, they pick the wrong target and get the wrong result. The way Swimming Australia hauled the men’s relay team over the coals this week in front of a packed press gallery was one of the most futile and embarrassing displays of misplaced public contrition in sports history. We were told about the deep shame these grown men felt about taking Stilnox during a team bonding session in which they made prank calls and nick-knocked teammates doors. Despite the baying media pack, it was a moment that had all the gravitas of a group of hormonal school boys admitting they’d acted out on an excursion.

Something else worth considering; is it too soon to say that James Sutherland might have taken a massive dump on his own doorstep by appointing Anderson? It’s alleged that one of the key reasons behind Anderson’s departure from the AFL was that his aspirations to one day succeed Andrew Demetriou as CEO were thwarted by his bosses endorsement of Gillon McLachlan to follow him in the top job. Is it premature to suggest that Anderson may find the integrity of Sutherland himself as reliable as the Australian middle order and in doing so edge himself in pole position to take Sutherland's job?

Surely any review into Mike McKenna’s dual role as BBL Tsar and chief of player discipline would have Anderson pointing his integrity finger directly at Sutherland, the man who put McKenna in those roles? It’s hard to keep up with all of CA’s reviews and enquires these days, but it suffices to say that Sutherland always commissions them and always seems to survive them, so maybe I’m jumping the gun here.

Anderson would probably slide effortlessly behind the wheel of Cricket Australia were he to find that Sutherland wasn’t up to the task anymore. Is this in fact CA’s own succession plan? Even if they did want us to know the answers to these questions there’d probably be a story about a footballer pissing on a cab driver to keep it off the back page.

One positive thing can be said of Anderson’s time at the AFL; his boss aside, he was well-liked within the organisation, enjoyed the support of a wide variety of colleagues and was known for remembering the names of even the call centre staff. His competition for the AFL job, McLachlan is known well within league circles for very opposite character traits. If cricket was to secure the services of one of these men, it was probably better it not be the one known for wearing sunglasses inside. Australian cricket has already got Dave Warner filling that role.

All we know for now is that the Cricket Australia administration is starting to look more like that of the AFL by the day. Maybe all that can be asked is that Adrian Anderson is kept well away from the MCC rules of the game booklet. Now that would be protecting the integrity of the game.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Cricket’s PED’s: the search for Publicity Enhancing Drama

The past few weeks have not been glorious ones for sport. Drugs, betting scandals, murder; if you’re someone of even a slightly negative or cynical disposition, there is plenty of news about the place to reinforce your worldview. It has actually made me seriously question what it is that our major sports stand for and whether we have reached some kind of tipping point in the contempt with which the sports we love have started to look at us.

As fans, we put up with a lot and generally soldier on, but you can’t help but find it hard to stomach the constant bad news when it is being actively leveraged by administrators to the commercial betterment of the sports in which we invest so much of our own emotional capital. Is this becoming a one-way relationship?

Everyone recognises that hackneyed maxim of marketing that “there is no such thing as bad publicity”, but it is quite something else when prominent sports administrators admit as much with something approaching approval, rather than, say, resignation. Two weeks back, Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager of Marketing, Ben Amarfio, made some quite astonishing comments at a “Meet the Marketer’s” event held by Mumbrella.

Speaking of the tabloid scandals that have engulfed the major football codes in recent times, Amarfio was of the view that, “In the last 12 months, the NRL has had players assault women, players assault policemen, they’ve had drug, corruption and match fixing issues – the list goes on and on. And yet they've just signed a TV deal for over $1bn, which is almost 50% bigger than their last TV deal.”

With regards to the PED storm currently being weathered by the AFL, Amarfio said “It’s a huge story. But I guarantee that this story will prompt a lot of interest, and generate a lot of discussion and debate around sport,” before adding, “It’s not always such a bad thing to get negative press.” Amarfio may well be correct in that statement, but sentiments such as those are cold comfort to genuine cricket lovers looking for the kind of leadership that will secure the future of the game as we’ve always known and loved it. Are the current CA administration so focused on clicks, hits and spin that they’ve forgotten that it’s cuts, drives and wins that get us punters through the gates?  

In response to criticism that followed the Mumbrella piece, Amarfio fell back on that catch-all excuse; he was “quoted out of context.” In that respect, he’d challenge Newt Gingrich for sheer audacity. If you re-read those quotes, it is hard to imagine them being spun into any kind of narrative that doesn’t make Amarfio appear at least thoughtless. He has only been with Cricket Australia for 6 months but it’s scarcely conceivable what kind of moral holes he could be able to dig the game into based on this opening gambit.

But Amarfio does have a conscience you see, look at this qualifier: “I only worry about it, when it gets to the stage where people are saying we’re immoral or doing something illegal, then that’s where you worry as a marketer.”

You only worry about it when people are saying you’re doing something immoral or illegal? So for instance, we could probably feel content with having done our jobs if no-one kicks up a stink about our immorality, Ben? That’s the only point at which you worry? I guess he can rest easy that the Madden brothers only fall under the ‘mildly immoral’ banner. And notice he said “as a marketer”, not “as a lover of the game.” Cricket Australia don’t have a great track record of employing people who actually like cricket though, so maybe I’m being harsh on that point.

But then, no cricket fan should be especially surprised by Amarfio’s slightly grotty outlook on marketing ethics. He spent the best part of the last 6 years as General Manager of Southern Cross Austereo in Melbourne. Apparently Cricket Australia’s search for the brightest and best landed them at the sloppy seconds of an organisation whose cultural trademarks included light-heartedly interviewing teenage rape victims on air. Amarfio must be secretly spewing he missed out on the Royal Prank. There’s no doubt that that story “prompted a lot of interest” in the brand. I wonder where that would have sat on that pesky morality continuum though? Or maybe Amarfio would be happier back in the job he had before that at the AFL? It’d be grouse to have all these druggo’s and wife-bashers taking up column inches and driving up your broadcasting rights value. Fame and infamy, one and the same.

Ben Amarfio (second from right) and friends.

Actually, what a difference a drugs or (new) betting scandal could make for cricket; surely we’d only have to throw a few careers under the publicity bus for a cash bonanza? Think of the rights deals, and the Facebook hits! We’d need to borrow Channel 7’s stupid Fango thing just to keep up with all the traffic that Twitter couldn't handle. Stealing some ideas from Amarfio’s time “successfully re-branding Triple M”, perhaps next year we could have a “Battle of the Sexes” match between the Southern Stars and the Aussie men with entertainment provided by Nickelback and Snow Patrol? The men might even win, and there’s nothing more Triple M than that.

You wouldn’t even need dress-ups, people would be phoning in with requests from all over Australia. Kyle Sandilands could give bitchy special comments in the commentary box. Loud music and ads would scream at you from out of nowhere. Hamish and Andy could even goof around on the boundary. Oh hang on, replace Sandilands with Mark Waugh and I’ve pretty much just described a Big Bash broadcast…

But it’s not all on Amarfio’s head of course, we also have to look seriously in the direction of his boss, James Sutherland. Though always appearing youthful if not carefree, Sutherland has actually been in the top job at CA for some 12 years. Let’s not forget that in the wake of Shane Warne’s awful spat with Marlon Samuels in the Big Bash, it was Sutherland who said , “whilst we ... don't condone anything that happened, this sort of thing is something that only inspires greater rivalry between the Renegades and the Stars and only creates greater interest in the Big Bash League." He must have sampled a bit too much of the FM radio Kool-Aid as he waited for Amarfio in the Austereo car park. It also has to be noted how quickly they’ve both side-swiped Sutherland’s “Spirit of Cricket” mantra in the meantime.

Cricket Australia may not have been embroiled in the current PED’s saga, but they are themselves addicted to what’s turned out to a far more elusive drug: publicity. Their cross-town rivals at the AFL have done an exemplary job of suffocating the life out of any serious cricket coverage in the tabloid press. CA must be green with envy at Demetriou’s lot; in publicity terms he is high on his own supply. Sutherland can only sit and watch in awe, but you’d also think he’d be secretly praying that a Tony Montana-esque character arc awaits Demetriou. On current evidence, it would appear ‘Amarfio’s Law of Beneficial Scandal’ is holding true. Demetriou will likely endure, as will the blanket coverage of an AFL season that’s annexes seem to stretch further and further into cricket’s summer camping spot by the year.

Perhaps Sutherland and Amarfio should be tasking themselves with dealing with their own scandals, like the crowds at this summer’s ODI’s. Sutherland insists that the 2015 World Cup will pave the streets of Australian cricket with gold, but one has to wonder about the approach of letting ODI cricket in Australia flat-line in the meantime. In the next Australian summer, only five ODI's will be scheduled, down from ten. On an aesthetic level, this strategy also begs the question; if people stayed away from ODI’s between Australia and this summers’ tourists in droves, should we even bother manning the gates at blockbusters like Zimbabwe vs Bangldesh during World Cup 2015?

James and the Giant Dish

Sutherland claims to have minimised the risk of betting scandals in the Australian game, though sticking your nose directly into the betting industry trough is some way to go about allaying fan fears. To say he will “consider” banning in-broadcast betting infomercials by official betting partners is one thing, to follow through on that vague promise will be another altogether. I’m sure his hand will be sore from high fives if he’s able to rid us of the nagging presence of Bet365’s Billy Baxter next summer. At the very least, some notes to the eventual broadcast rights holders asking they not disguise such spivs as genuine members of the broadcasting team might be nice.

Cricket means a hell of a lot to fans of the game. On the evidence of the summer now closing, it means a considerable deal less to the people charged with promoting it and preserving it in Australia. These people owe us nothing less than their best and most sincere efforts. If that is what we are currently getting, then they don't look up to the task. At the very least, as mouthpieces of the game in Australia, they could try and not embarrass us with their public statements.

If they take issue with our assessments, we can just tell them that they've just quoted us out of context.

Friday, 15 February 2013

A Visual History of Cricket Marketing - Part 3 (The 90's)

If the images I presented of the 70's and 80's gave a representation of the social mores of Australia in that time, I can't help but feel this 90's post is a reflection of the increasing corporatization that spread into the sporting world in that decade.

Where the ads from the previous decades were often amateurish and poorly executed, they were no less charming for that fact. In the post Jerry Maguire 90's, for the first time we saw the mass-scale presence of player agents come into Australian sport, to the point where "sports management" University courses even became, well, a thing. Sports was big business, and the business world started to view players as brands and commercial entities.

So whilst these ads might lack the retro flavour of the 70's and 80's, they are an accurate reflection of the times; sports becoming more serious and professional and sometimes maybe less fun. A lot of the business side of sports that many of us fans now tend to view negatively had its genesis in this decade. There was still much fun to be had though, and here is a small selection of it.

1990 - The 12th Man
Billy Birmingham's albums were a pop-cultural phenomenon in the 80's and 90's. I can't think of any comedy albums, other than probably those of Weird Al Yankovic, that have reached such a position of cultural relevance within the world that they parody. It's now at the stage where Slats, Heals and Tubby do impersonations of 12th Man impersonations of Richie and Bill in the commentary box. If you think about that too deeply, your head will explode.

1990 - ABC Grandstand Cricket Coverage
Nothing says "summer" like the sound of Jim Maxwell's voice. Looking at this list of broadcasters and reminiscing, I almost forget about the current line-up, stuffed to the brim as it is with lightweight amateurs like Brett "Don't Ask" Geeves. 


1990 - Allan Border for CTG
Damning themselves with faint praise by claiming that we won't need a University degree to use their phones, CTG then fall for the fatal advertising error: slabs of needless text. Despite the  novella within the ad, there is not a single explanation of why AB's face appears. Some easy money for Captain Grumpy, you'd think.

1990 - The Greg Chappell Hat
If you asked me to list Australia's most iconic hats, not long after the slouch hat and the Akubra, the Greg Chappell Hat would have to enter the conversation. Used all around the world, this is a simple, well executed product that Chappell has probably made squillions out of. That's what they call "first mover advantage."

1990 - Graham Yallop's Indoor Centre
ESPN's recent documentary 'Broke' lifted the lid on the way many former star athletes lost the fortune's they earned playing sport, many of them through dodgy business ideas that seemed too good to refuse. I'm not sure whether Graham Yallop's Indoor Centre was a success or not, but the 'indoor sports centre' was a business idea adopted by many ex-cricketer's. This could be an old photo of Yallop in his playing days, but there is something amusing about imagining him kitting up like this 5 years after his last test.

1990 - Kanga Cricket
These things were everywhere at schools and sports clubs in the 90's. This ad tends to suggest it was something you'd use in your backyard, but I'm pretty sure anyone who pulled out a plastic bat in my neighborhood would have been laughed out of town.

1990 - "Limited Edition" Scamorabilia
This stuff probably appeared earlier than the 90's, but the 90's was when Tony Greig and Channel Nine gave it the kick in the pants it required to expand to plague proportions. Widely derided by genuine collectors, the concept of a "limited" edition of 500 still infuriates many viewers of Nine's cricket coverage. Finally the punters seem to have cottoned on to this epic scam, with copies of Dave Warner's "Powerhouse" print still available a full 2 years after they first appeared.

The one below contained the signatures of the 1989 Sri Lankan touring team; a real treat for all of you Graeme Labrooy fans out there.

1990 - Shane Warne for CBA
The 90's were the decade of Warne; a time when endorsement opportunities were limitless for the Sheik of Tweak. This is a nice one from his pre-superstar days at the Cricket Academy, a time in which he apparently became well-acquainted with the peroxide bottle. About a year after this when Warnie had burst onto the Test scene, I walked up to him as a star-struck kid and politely asked for an autograph. His response: "Sure buddy, that'll be two bucks." Not a word of a lie.

1991 - Albion C&D
"Confidently into the 90's, by refusing to accept that the 80's is over." In retrospect, so much of the early 90's was actually way more 80's than the 80's was. 

1991- Coles Cricket Coins
I recall collecting these as a kid, one for every member of the 1990/91 Ashes squads. There is nothing more "Heavy Metal" than a Peter Taylor coin.

1991 - Player Merchandise
So you'd pulled on your acid wash jeans and  a pair of Wayfarer's, the only thing left was to choose between your Deano or Waugh brothers t-shirts. This ad also shows that the advertising people were still finding those terrible cricket puns too hard to pass up.

1991 - Merv Hughes for County
There is no better way to be taken seriously as a bat brand than sponsoring a fast bowler. Fact. Merv was a pretty marketable personality in the early 90's though, and there was no shortage of Merv-endorsed product on the market.

1991 - Mike Whitney and Lindsey Reeler for Callen
Mike Whitney also somehow managed to get himself a bat sponsor, but the real gravy train arrived five years later when he carved out a lucrative TV career paying people "FIFTY BUCKS!!!" to stick their head in a bucket of baked beans on 'Who Dares, Wins." Yep, the 90's were so much more sophisticated than the 80's.

1991 - The Sidchrome Supertest Team
This was much more of an 80's innovation, but his 1991 ad was all I could find on the competition immortalized by Billy Birmingham. These were the innocent early days of a fantasy sports culture that is now an enormous industry in itself.

1991 - Mark Taylor and Simon O'Donnell for Stuart Surridge
"These two mean business: Mark some cricket, Simon auditioning for a Country Road modelling job. "

1992 - Border Turf
I unsuccessfully lobbied my parents to have Border Turf installed in the driveway. I'm pretty sure this is the only reason I didn't become an international cricketer.

1992 - Dean Jones Kookaburra Shirt
There is no indignity in sports advertising quite like having to model another sportsman's signature line of clothing. 

1992 - Graham Gooch for Stuart Surridge
In the 90's, bat companies were very fond of commemorating a batsman's highest score with a special edition bat. Gooch's 333 was also great for fans of palindromes. Forgotten fact, Gooch made 123 in the second dig of that game against India. Not a bad five days work.

1992 - Cricket - The Interactive Television Game
Add this one to the list of "Cricket games that aren't 'Test Match' therefore aren't any good." Greigy is far too happy with himself here, this one was a turkey.

1992 - Mark Waugh for Slazenger
"A bowler's nightmare... until he gets to 70 and chips an easy catch." We still loved you though, Junior.

1992 - Players Bar & Grill
"And then I said, 'You know what it looks like, you go find it."

Forget the Bourbon and Beefsteak, go where the real players hang out. Does anyone have a story about this place? Feel free to share in the comments, especially if you had a drink with Viv.

1992 - Mark Taylor Rebound Cricket
I had the football version of this which was endorsed by Peter Daicos; basically just a footy with a stretchy cord and a tent peg attached. No real surprise that Tubby wasn't able to retire off the money earned from this business venture.

1992 - Steve Small for Impala
When you think of Australian cricketing dynasties, you think of the Chappell's and their grandfather Victor Richardson, or if you're the marketing manager down at Impala, you think Smaller, much Smaller.

1992 - Telecom
Admit it, you cannot prove that this guy wouldn't be a better keeper up to the stumps than Matthew Wade. You just can't.

1992 - The Richie Richardson Hat
Taking the Greg Chappell idea and extending the brim by about 30%, Richie added a Calypso flair with this maroon hat. It was both his personal style trademark and a popular piece of merchandise for fans. Was it just me, or did the brim become comically larger as time wore on? You used to see these things everywhere at the cricket back in the 90's. Might be time for a re-release.

1992 - World Cup 1992 - Nissan 300ZX
As more money flooded into the game, prize money and player of the match rewards got more and more juicy in the early 90's. Martin Crowe ended up driving away in this thing though many of us will remember that World Cup for South Africa's farcical semi-final run chase that contributed heavily to the eventual introduction of the Duckworth-Lewis method for calculating revised run chase totals in rain-affected matches.

1993 - Richie Richardson Bradman Range
In 1992-93, Slazenger introduced a range of 'Bradman' bats to sit along their iconic V series range. And who more appropriate to promote the Bradman name than.....Richie Richardson?

1993 - Alan Border for Duncan Fearnley
Another iconic bat brand of the 80's and 90's; Duncan Fearnley. For me the brand is synonymous with the final years of AB's career, when he got his own range of bats.

1993 - ISC Cricket Shirts
In this period, an Australian company finally cottoned on to the demand for replica national team shirts. This was actually the first time you could purchase international and domestic one-day shirts, and what designs to start with.

"We like sportz and we don't care who knows."

1993 - Mark Waugh for Bolle
Perfect for checking weather conditions, inspecting pitches and making observations on team selection. Also handy to keep a low profile when the ACA crew are waiting in your driveway when you get home.

1994 - ACB Merchandise
"That's a cool story Flemo, but can you get Warnie's autograph for us, or not?"

1994 - The Allan Border Hat
Having neither the history of the Greg Chappell, or the novelty appeal of the Richie Richardson model, this one proved to be short-lived. Did Chappell ask for AB to be removed from the Captain's club for this?

1994 - Tim May and Shane Warne: the "Spin Twins"
Remember that brief period when Shane Warne and Tim May formed the most unlikely double act in the history of sports marketing? It didn't last for long; there wasn't much need for a second spinner with Warnie effortlessly slicing through opposition batting orders. I do recommend Tim May's book, 'Mayhem' though. It's a pre-Warwick Todd tour diary (with names changed) that is highly enjoyable trash.

1994 - Australia A ODI Series
"Ok everyone, put both hands up if you think this is a good idea."

We give Mike McKenna and Ben Amarfio a bit of stick around these quarters for the way the Australian game is marketed these days, but whoever came up with this idea puts both of them in the shade. It lasted one ill-fated season during which the full Aussie team barely saved the blushes of the ACB, pulling the A team's best performed bowler of the series, Paul Reiffel, out of the team for the finals, only to make him 12th man for the "first" team. Absolute stinker of a concept.

1994 - Brian Lara World Record (Gray Nicolls)
For a couple of years there, you expected Brian Lara to make a ridiculous score every time he went out to bat. Some of them may have ended up being selfish pursuits of records at the cost of wins for the team, but there was no more marketable batsman than Lara.

1994 - Hong Kong Sixes
Before there was Twenty20, there was the Hong Kong Sixes, a tournament with far fewer billionaires, and the kind of cricketing display that made you flick the TV over to something exciting, like the Lawn Bowls. How did anyone think this would catch on? I think they actually still play this tournament. Australia take it so seriously that they send test players...from 25 years ago.

1994 - Mahatma Cote
Perhaps the funniest thing about Cricket Australia's recent public rebuke of Greg Ritchie and his Mahatma Cote "character" was that they were so keen to be seen as taking a moral stance on something that was, you know, totes racist. The thing was though, they had no problem with it in the 90's, when he appeared in official match programs and represented major sponsors like Toyota. "Blacking up" and being a bit racist was fine in the 90's, you see.

Do yourself a favour and don't read Mahatma's "amusing" take on the summer here. Absolute dross.

1994 - Victoria wears shorts in Mercantile Mutual Cup Games
As mentioned in a previous post, yes, this actually happened. The only reason this should be brought back is to see the kind of figure that Mark Cosgrove would cut.

1994 - Merv Hughes and Zoe Goss for Milo
After bowling out Brian Lara in that weird Bradman Tribute game, Zoe Goss went from relatively unknown women's cricketer to national celebrity. Thankfully the women's game is now drawing attention without the need for any such novelty publicity, but it was a great "15 minutes of fame" tale.

1994 - Shane Warne for Powerade
Again, the regulators should have had something to say about Warnie claiming (at that point) that he got his energy from anything other than cheese pizza and cans of Coke. Truly crap tagline as well.

My own personal memory of this product is painful. Having downed a litre of it prior to a junior state squad training session, I proceeded to be smashed all over the place by Adam Crossthwaite for about 4 hours until I finally staggered into the change rooms and spewed a big blue fountain of Powerade all over the place. Moral of the story? I'm not sure there is one but I've never had a blue drink since.

1994 - Toyota Rav 4
Because the words "occupational healthy and safety" were not of huge concern to anyone in the 80's and early 90's, cricket fans were afforded a treat at the end of every Benson and Hedges World Series. The player of the tournament would receive a car from the sponsor which they would then proceed to drag race around the arena with teammates crammed in the back like drunken schoolies in a stolen rental car.

I distinctly remember players poking out the top of the sun roof on this Rav 4 as Shane Warne practically did donuts on the outfield. Then the fun police moved in and the sponsors became a little less generous. Boo!

1994 - Shane Warne for Oakley
Oakley M Frames were the sunglasses du jour for any self-respecting cricketer in the mid 90's. Dean Jones was actually the first player to wear them regularly in a game. Just ask him, he'll tell you all about it.

1995 - Craig McDermott ad for the Ansett Test Series 1995-96
"So Craig, we're going to make it look like your run-up is taking in mountainous terrain. It'll make you look pretty tough mate, it's going to be great."

"But I break down with injuries walking to the post box."

"Don't worry mate, no-one remembers that stuff."

1995 - Shane Warne for the Aussie Sunwatch
With this one, Warnie was banking on getting a slice of those billions of dollars up for grabs in the skincare market. What he wasn't banking on was that no-one wanted to wear a sunscreen watch and make themselves look like a complete bell-end.

1996 - Ansett Australia Test Series
"Australian cricketer's wouldn't be caught sexually harassing any other air stewardess's."

1996 - Ian Healy's "Gloves Off" Apparel Range
"Hey Heals, hook your thumb into the pocket of your jeans, otherwise you'll look like a real wanker in these photos."

With this range, Ian Healy massively overestimated the appeal of Ian Healy. Much like his commentary stylings, I guess.

1996 - Ricky Ponting for Kooburra
When someone says "1997" I think about Radiohead's Ok Computer and all the other great albums that came out that year. When someone says "1996" I just get an immediate visual of Ricky Ponting's goatee.

1996 - Shane Warne for Nike
In order to enter the world of cricket, Nike clearly felt like they needed to get behind a big name, and there was no name in cricket bigger than Warne's. Soon enough there was the "Nike Air Flipper" and those 'Mystery Ball' ads which mainly served to trick people into believing that he actually had a mystery ball. I think it worked out pretty well for both parties, Warnie also managing to indulge in that 90's standard of douche-baggery; the Nike stud earring. 

1996 - Steve Waugh for Toyota
"Steve Waugh would like to introduce you to his new batting partner. Unlike Michael Slater, he won't run you out."

1997 - Nike Air Flipper
Nike showing their ignorance of the game with this ill-thought-out early ad. This ranks up there with that hilarious joke people from non-cricketing nations tell: "...and then after 5 days, sometimes nobody even wins!" Cue death stare.

1997 - Steve Waugh for Gunn & Moore
"Sorry kiddo, you're an inch or two short to go on 'Steve Waugh's Mental Disintegration Ghost Train."

1998 - Mark Waugh for Slazenger
"Form is temporary. Class is permanent, as is a Test batting average of 41."

1998 - Michael Bevan for Light Ice
I just tried to come up with a more fitting beer to represent Bevo than this but couldn't. It's too perfect.

1999 - Adam Gilchrist for Crown Forklifts
Once Serpico finally got released on DVD, I had to find new "it's an injustice that this isn't available" hobby-horse. Enter the TV commercial that Adam Gilchrist did for Crown Forklifts. It was the kind of shambolic nonsense you'd generally only see on community TV. If anyone has it on an old VHS tape, do the right thing and get it up on YouTube.

1999 - The County "Black Label" Collection - Hansie Cronje
"Only $299.00 inc GST, we can accept payment by cash, EFTPOS or a no ball off the fourth ball of the seventh over tomorrow."

1999 - Sheffield Shield sold to Pura Milk
One of the worst sports marketing trends of the last 20 years has been the sale of team/competition/stadium names to our 'generous corporate partners'. The selling out of the Sheffield Shield to be renamed the Pura Cup was the worst in Australian cricket. They even had the temerity to change the trophy, shitting over our domestic cricket legacy from a great height. Absolute bollocks.

1999 - Michael Clarke at Kingsgrove Sports Centre
Many of the images for this post were found in my brothers' old cricket gear catalogues. While I was scanning through them, I noticed there were some great shots of a young Michael Clarke working at the Kingsgrove Sports Centre. I couldn't leave them out. 

1999 - Steve Waugh for Polaroid
I had to give the final word to Steve Waugh. Warnie may have been the star, but the decade belonged to Tugga in my view, so here he is spruiking some Polaroid sunnies.

The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.