Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Vandals ‘take action’ amid Aussie cricket great Michael Slater’s fall from grace

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Michael Slater’s name has been removed from monument at the former cricketer’s sporting ground in Wagga Wagga in an act of vandalism.

The development comes in the middle of an ongoing dispute surrounding the 54-year-old’s stature in the local community and in Australian sport.

Once one of the most celebrated names in Australian Test cricket throughout the 1990s, Slater’s public and spectacular fall from grace continued last month when the former Channel 7 TV commentator was taken back to jail following horrific allegations of his assault and abuse of a woman.

The former Test opener collapsed in Maroochydore Magistrates Court on April 16 after being refused bail on multiple charges, including stalking, enter dwelling with intent by break at night, choking, assault occasioning bodily harm, common assault and breaching bail.

The debate about the Wagga Wagga junior cricketer having a council sporting facility named in his honour divided the community when Wagga Wagga City Council amended the Parks Naming Policy in August to address the issue.

Councillor Dan Hayes said at the time: “I want to look at ways in which we could be replacing that name with someone more deserving. Someone without criminal charges”.

However, the facility remains under the title ‘Michael Slater Oval’.

A photo shared by Councillor Jenny McKinnon on Tuesday shows the monument at the Bolton Park grounds has been altered with Slater’s name completely covered up.

Michael Slater’s monument has been vandalised. Photo: AAP Image/Dave Hunt and Facebook, Councillor Jenny McKinnon.Source: AAP

McKinnon, previously the deputy mayor, wrote on Facebook: “I’ve urged Council to change the name of this oval as a matter of urgency. Glad to see that someone (maybe Council?) has taken some stealth action.”

Slater in 2014 was one of three former test cricketers to have an oval named in his honour at the Bolton Park complex, alongside former Test captain Mark Taylor and fast bowler Geoff Lawson.

Mayor of the City of Wagga Wagga Rod Kendall celebrated the announcement in 2014. Slater’s dad Peter attended the ceremony to unveil the monuments.

Michael Slater Oval also hosts AFL, football and rugby league events, leading to previous calls for the oval to be renamed in honour of one of the many other sporting heroes that have come from the NSW Riverina.

In 2020 there was a push for Aussie cricketing trailblazer Alex Blackwell, who captained the Aussie women’s cricket team, to replace Slater.

Slater, meanwhile, will return to court on May 31.

A court in April heard scores of alleged abusive texts he sent to a woman in a tirade starting from the morning and ending well into the afternoon.

Court documents showed one chilling message where he said the woman had “put a good guy in jail”.

Michael Slater Oval. Photo: City of Wagga Wagga.Source: Supplied

The texts follow similar alleged streams of abuse from the former cricket star towards the same woman since December last year, with police claiming he bombarded her with more than 300 abusive texts.

On March 10, Mr Slater allegedly sent more than 100 messages and claimed he would kill himself.

During the barrage he allegedly wrote: “Get f**ked you’re a fraud, I’m going to hang my skull at the front of my house. How does that f**king feel you c**t. You f**king killed me.”

Details of some of the alleged messages, along with his alleged physical abuse of the woman, were raised in court as police opposed Mr Slater’s bail application.

Slater is accused of physically assaulting the woman after she attended his home on December 6, 2023 over concerns for his welfare.

Former Australia cricketer Michael Slater on media duties during the Cricket World Cup in 2019. Photo by Andy Kearns/Getty Images.Source: Getty Images

Police allege he struck her across the face, kicked her and raised a bottle of vodka while saying: “I’ll f**king kill you.”

He is then alleged to have choked her, lifting her off the ground as she fled to the laundry room.

This is despite his Legal Aid lawyer Michael Robinson stating the former cricketer would be undertaking a “major intervention” by living in a rehabilitation centre in Sydney.

Slater and his legal team have disputed allegations of physical violence.

Affectionately known as “Slats” by those close to him, Mr Slater opened the batting for the Australian Test team through the 1990s and early 2000s.

He became one of only four players to have played in each of the 15 matches between 1999 and 2001 – the era that delivered the Australian team the best run of consecutive victories in Test cricket history.

Mr Slater scored 5312 Test runs in 74 matches. He also played 42 one-day internationals for Australia.

After retiring in 2004, he moved to commentary with channels 7 and 9 and other media networks.

News.com.au has contacted Councillor McKinnon for comment.

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