Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is in the midst of a stoush with Russia and a delicate world trade situation, but in diplomatic circles this week all the ambassadors want to talk about is Australian cricketers cheating.
“It has been raised with me on numerous occasions by foreign diplomats and ambassadors and other nations who are astounded that Australian cricketers would act in this way,” Ms Bishop told Channel Seven this morning.
Australia’s captain, vice-captain and an opening batsman have all been sent home from South Africa in disgrace after admitting to ball tampering.
But Ms Bishop said she had been copping it all week, and not just from nations where cricket is part of the national ethos.
“As a matter of fact, during this week I attended an event with the ambassadors and high commissioners from almost all the African countries, coincidentally,” the Foreign Minister said.
“You can imagine that it was raised by each and every one of them.”
She said the cricket scandal was enormous news in African countries and described the feedback she had received as being sledged “on behalf of the country”.
“The disdain for the act has been brought home to me. And, as so many of them have said to me, it’s just not cricket,” Ms Bishop told Sky.
“Some have joked about it in an embarrassed kind of way because you don’t expect this from elite sportsmen in the game of cricket.”
The Foreign Minister said the sporting debacle had harmed Australia’s name around the world.
“It does damage our international reputation because our international teams, those who represent Australia, actually represent the country, our values,” she said.
“Indeed, it does reflect on us.
“It is very sad that they thought they’d get away with it, that they’d even dream up a manner of cheating to get an unfair advantage in the game and then do it so obviously.”