During their camp, the Australians will be told that market research commissioned by Cricket Australia revealed that 81% of the Australian public think the team are good role models for children. This is a vast improvement on a rating of about 20% shortly after the scandal at Sydney but still means one in five Australians disapproves of them. They have never inspired affection.
So it's not just likeability, it's how great of a role model each cricketer is. I'm not surprised at the stat for the India series in 2007-08, because that was pretty shocking at the time. Maybe Peter Roebuck filled in all those votes because he sure as hell had it in for the Aussies back then.
From a purely superficial point of view, the cricketers probably are good role models for children. They do the right things, take part in the right charities, hang out with kids for special events to help them out with their cricketing skills. Kids don't tend to see beyond that initial layer.
As it turns out, we do quite like Glenn McGrath but he's not on the team. His home town is apparently sticking a giant pigeon statue in a park or town square or something in honour of him. Kind of creepy, but it could have been worse if it had been a statue of him.
But the best role model of all is Ricky Ponting, who not only plays cricket with kids at empty stadiums, but encourages them to take their vitamins, simply by association. Marvellous.
Parents all over Australia smile as they down a bottle of vitamins, telling their kids that one day they'll grow up to eat vitamins like mummy and daddy and Ricky Ponting.