We live in a country where people say the position of the Australian Cricket Captain is second only to the Prime Minister as the nation’s most important and scutinised. Over the next few days, we will find out if we also live in a country where talk show host Oprah Winfrey is more popular than the Australian cricket team when Oprah in Australia: Ultimate Wildest Dreams goes head to head with One Day Series – Australia v England on national television.

I don’t think it would be too reactionary to say that Australian pride is on the line here. – And it’s not the flag-waving-southern-cross-tattoo-wearing kind of pride I’m referring to; I mean the feeling that comes from identifying as an Australian person.

This powerful sense of Australianism is a rare feeling that’s really only triggered by a few unique experiences in life: the overwhelming homesickness that comes when you’ve been away for too long; the first swim at your favourite beach in summer; and watching the Australian Cricket Team play against England.

Donald Bradman once said, “Cricket is not a light-hearted business, especially that between England and Australia.” If Oprah receives higher television ratings than the Australia/England one dayer this coming Friday evening we will effectively be rolling onto our stomachs, pulling down our pants and holding an Insert Here sign over our bum cracks to the English cricket team and their ably mocking public.

Oprah’s visit to Australia spurned over $71 million worth of publicity for the country and priceless good vibes. In return we put a giant ‘O’ on one of Australia’s most famous landmarks (the Sydney Harbour Bridge) and temporarily renamed another (the Opera/Oprah House) after her. We promoted McDonald’s McCafes as our country’s destination coffee-drinking venues to an international audience of billions. We gave her hours of screen time and miles of column inches through our media (Pedestrian included). Our Prime Minister attended large scale public junkets to meet with her which was broadcast around the world. And Curtis Stone called prawns shrimp. SHRIMP!!!?

Enough is enough.

Oprah is great and, let’s face it, the “Ultimate Australian Adventure” is going to be entertaining and a big ol’ back-patting session for the whole country, which of course we all want to be a part of. Australians love supporting their sporting teams, but on the other hand nothing gets us more interested than seeing how the rest of the world views us, especially America. Uluru? That’s our rock! Margaret River? Yay Australian wine! Sydney? We’ve got the gays George Michael prefers! But it’s time to rein it in, television-watching Australians. Haven’t we already pimped out our country and ourselves enough to Oprah? Don’t let her take our self-respect via TV ratings too. You can take Oprah on Wednesday and Thursday, but – if there’s a choice to be made – switch to the cricket on Friday night. If we tv-watching Australian citizens trade in the cricket for an American talk show host we may as well wave our McCappucinos in defeat.

The Oprah Winfrey Show: Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure will screen in three parts on Wednesday (tonight), Thursday and Friday at 7.30pm.
One Day Cricket Series – Australia v England screens Friday at 6.30pm.

*Tune in tomorrow for my full review on the first episode of Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure.