“Sorry. I don’t know” – Australian.

I like Australians, I really do. Some of my best friends are Australians. I even traveled twice to the country, once to Brisbane and once to Sydney, because I desperately wanted to be there when two friends were married.

But sometimes, as with all strong-willed creatures, they can drive you mad.

I know Ausies and Kiwis hate the talk of isolation and ‘island mentality’ – they like to see themselves as citizens of the world and as enlightened as anyone else when it comes to matters beyond their own shorelines. But they’re not. Nothing like a good, broad, sweeping generalisation!

We’re back on the subject of John Howard. He offered the world enough evidence of his racial views and policies in his 40 year career as a politician and prime minister to fill a book. Three volumes, at least. So it’s difficult to pick just one. But if pushed, we’ll go for the fact that he vehemently opposed any sanctions being placed on apartheid South Africa but equally aggressively fought to have Zimbabwe ejected from the Commonwealth and brought to its knees by as many embargoes and sanctions as possible. Draw your own conclusions. (And don’t even worry yourself over the fact that he attempted to sever the last remaining lifelines that Zimbabwe cricket had to the real world – or that he glibly labelled Murali a ‘chucker.’)

He was, clearly, the most unsuitable man in either of Australia or New Zealand to be appointed president of a ten-man family which includes seven black faces. Yet Cricket Australia, having seen off the challenge of CNZ’s eminently qualified and suitable nomination, Sir John Anderson, ploughed on full-steam ahead with Howard as their man to knock a few heads together at the ICC’s top table. How superior and patronising.

Rudyard Kipling gave the world a whole list of useful tips on what it takes to be a man in his famous poem ‘If’, but my old head master reckoned that the two most important changes he ever saw in the transition from boyhood to manhood was the ability to say “I don’t know” and, top of the list, “Sorry.” Australian men, generally, find it exceptionally difficult to do either.

The inability to say “I don’t know” can be an extremely useful trait, to be fair. Once, when four journalists broke down in a hire-car and three of us said we “didn’t know” anything about cars, the fourth – an Aussie – fiddled and prodded and cursed under the bonnet for an hour despite being as clueless as the rest of us. The car started. When we asked what he had done, he made up some bulshit about the carburettor – because he couldn’t bring himself to say “I don’t know.” We think it was just that the engine had cooled down.

Cricket Australia released a press statement on Friday in which they said they would take their time in nominating a replacement candidate for Howard. It concluded with the following line: “…CA and NZC had been  totally united throughout an exhaustive process which has identified Mr Howard as the best candidate for the role.”

They just don’t get it, do they?!

No,  he clearly WASN’T the best man for the job because seven of the ten ICC Test nations opposed his nomination! That means CA probably made a significant error in judgement.

But instead of ‘sorry’ we are offered another petulant ‘we are right and the rest of you are all wrong’ response from a sporting nation so besotted with itself it is incapable of reason in times of debate.

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