Read the article, not the headlines

Adrian Meredith sat down with his Christmas Leftovers and watched Cameron Bancroft’s tell all interview. What did he think?

Cameron Bancroft, in an interview with Adam Gilchrist, hosted on Fox Cricket at the lunch break on Day One of the Boxing Day test, admitted to the words he interpreted to mean that he was being told to cheat or be kicked out: “carry the action out on the ball”. Most people would interpret that to mean “let the ball do the talking” and *NOT* to cheat, but Cameron Bancroft knows better, and yet, after the interview was aired, Daniel Brettig of Cricinfo ran an article with the headline “Warner encouraged me to tamper – Bancroft”, which is not what Bancroft said.

Whether or not Bancroft was telling the truth is another issue entirely. Given that he cheated, then hid it down his pants, then produced a sunglasses case, then said to the press conference that it was sticky tape (which he admitted in today’s interview was his idea), it’s hard to believe what he says. He didn’t just lie once – he lied, by my count, 4 times, each time begging for us to believe him, and, somehow, most of the Australian cricketing public have.

We may not be believing him if cricket journalists were writing responsible headlines, but Daniel Brettig’s headline today, along with headlines across the board from cricket journalists reporting about this, have been consistently inaccurate in summarising the issue.

If he had written “Warner told me to carry the action out on the ball – Bancroft” as the headline, then it’d be an accurate summary. Most readers, who perhaps don’t read the headline properly, would note that in fact Warner had not directly instructed him to cheat at all, and that Bancroft was in no way suggesting that. Indeed, most people would interpret those words to mean “let the ball do the talking”. And that is, in fact, what Bancroft said, words said with such precision that it is most likely what Warner actually said.

The common consensus of this incident is that Bancroft took it upon himself to cheat believing it would help the team, not that he was ordered to cheat, or encouraged, or in any way manipulated into doing it, and Bancroft’s admission today to the words he says were used, makes that case all the stronger.

The problem is that, with misleading headlines such as what Daniel Brettig at Cricinfo wrote today, most people in Australia and around the world, who skim the articles and just read the headlines, have completely the wrong idea about what they are saying.

While journalists frequently misquote cricketers and take it out of context, that is not the case here. In the article itself, Daniel Brettig accurately quoted what Cameron Bancroft said. The problem is that the headline says the exact opposite of what Bancroft actually said in the interview.

If only people could read the articles, not the headlines.

But perhaps, more importantly, if only cricket journalists could be trusted to have headlines that accurately depict what the article is about, then we may not be in this trouble.

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