KASAMA Vol. 13 No. 4 / October-November-December 1999 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

Marlene Cases Zorn (Photo: The Sun Herald)

Cricket recently attracted the attention of Filipinos in Australia for the wrong reason. The one-day clash between Victoria and New South Wales on the 10th of October found Channel 9 cricket commentator Tony Greig batting on a sticky wicket of his own making.

Greig fails to bowl maiden over

Doing his usual day job with former cricket captain, Mark Taylor, Greig and his crew panned their camera to the church opposite the North Sydney Oval. At the steps of St Mary's Church people were milling around the newly weds, Marlene Cases and Mark Zorn. Unknown to the couple, Greig made what apparently was an "innocent" comment about their wedding and specifically about the bride.

The image of an Asian woman marrying a white Australian triggered Greig to make an offensive and malicious 'leap of thought'. Talking to Taylor in their privileged booth, he blurted: "Lovely little bouquet there and have a look at the carnation in his lapel..." Referring back to the bride, Greig continued, "Do you think she's been flown in?"

For the many avid cricket fans accustomed to Greig's verbal antics, such comment is nothing out of the ordinary. He is often heard "joking" about the Pakistani and Indian players, so why not if it's a Filipina this time.

However, Marlene Cases Zorn is not laughing.

Filipina Bowls a Googley to Channel 9 Cricket Commentator

Two viewers of the cricket program were concerned enough to contact The Panel, a celebrity chat show on another channel which replayed Greig's remark. Marlene had heard from friends that she had been part of the cricket telecast, but it was not until she and some girlfriends happened to catch a glimpse of The Panel as they were sorting the wedding photographs, that she heard the remark.

"The gist of it was that I was just flown in. I've lived here for nine years. What if people see me walking down the street with my new husband and think, 'That's the mail-order-bride we saw on TV'?"

Born in the Philippines, Marlene Cases, 37, arrived in Australia because of her computing skills and was granted permanent residency. She and Mr Zorn met in 1994 when they worked together as computer programmers in a bank.

Marlene said the reference to her was an insult. She however made it clear that she has nothing against 'mail-order-brides': "What is disturbing is that there are people out there who refer to Asian women as 'mail-order-brides' if their partners are Australian. A lot of Asian women are here in Australia because of skills not because they got married to an Australian."

"Mr Greig is in a very public position. People listen to him and some might accept his views. It makes me so angry. Just because there is an Australian guy with an Asian girl, the girl is assumed to be lower, that she is only in this country because of him."

Marlene demanded a personal on-air apology from Greig. However, it did not materialise as he was apparently away on an overseas trip. As a damage control measure the Nine Network instead issued a press release on behalf of Greig.

The network's brief statement said: "The Nine Network apologises for any offence taken to a remark made by Tony Greig during last Sunday's Mercantile Mutual Cup broadcast. The remark was made off microphone and not intended for broadcast. The network and Tony Greig will also be making a personal apology to Ms. Cases"

Stick to Cricket, Tony

When the story broke in The Sun Herald, the Filipino Women's Working Party based in Sydney and individuals and groups in other states sent letters to the media, the NSW Ethnic Affairs Commission, and the Ethnic Communities Council, asking them to make a comment and take action. The letters say: "The next time Mr Greig works as cricket commentator for Channel 9, he would be well advised to stick to cricket."

Later, Tony Greig and the Nine Network through executive Gary Burns made an apology on Oct 19th to Marlene and her husband, not in person and not on air as she had demanded, but over the phone.

Mr Zorn, a cricket fan, said he may continue to watch the Channel 9 coverage but hoped Greig will not be part of it.

The Weekend Australian newspaper on Oct 23rd reported that Tony Greig had been suspended and would face an internal inquiry for his racist remarks.

Compiled by EMERE DISTOR with reports in The Sun Herald and The Philippine Daily Inquirer.