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Cash On The Line

Aug. 24, 1987
Aug. 24, 1987

Table of Contents
Aug. 24, 1987

Pan Am Games
Chicago Bears
Pat Cash
On A Roll
  • After years of corkscrew inconsistency, three erratic National League players have straightened out their games for the best seasons of their careers. One is a switch-hitter with a restaurant for a name who is sparking the Mets into contention. Another is an aspiring screenwriter plotting some respectability for the Phillies. The third is a hard-nosed street kid who is leading the Giants toward a possible pennant. Here they are:

Arctic Char
Horse Racing
Golf
Waters
On The Scene
Television
Point After

Cash On The Line

His Wimbledon win behind him, Pat Cash is shaking his rock 'n' roll-brat image

G'DAY.
What has ever been hotter, male-of-the-species division, than the Australian? Paul Hogan as Paul Hogan. Paul Hogan as Crocodile Dundee. Crocodile Dundee as Paul Hogan. The Shark. All those blond-doll hunks defending the America's Cup. Even the politicians. The prime minister, Bob (not Robert) Hawke, has the dandiest straight-back wave left anywhere in the male kingdom. The Fatal Shore, Robert Hughes's best-seller about Australia's development, even makes matinee idols out of cheap scoundrels and common sneaks-men, till friskers, pradnappers, buzz-gloaks, bolters and bushrangers like the fabled Michael Howe and Martin Cash.

This is an article from the Aug. 24, 1987 issue Original Layout

"And don't forget Men At Work," says Martin Cash's great-great-great-grandnephew, getting this discussion back on a high plane. "They really made people recognize Australia." Got that, Rupert Murdoch? And don't forget Mel Gibson, who gave one of the best standing-up kisses in film history to Sigourney Weaver in The Year of Living Dangerously. Men go to Australia to learn to kiss like that. Women go to Australia to get kissed like that.

Not only are Australian men spot on, but they also have gotten this reputation despite their habit of giving each other the twerpiest nicknames. Rochie and Dibles, Hoadie and Edo, Mackers, Dave-O, Fitzie and Cashy, for example, are all nicknames of manly Aussie tennis stars. Still, Australian men remain chic—like Australian everything. "Everybody I meet wants to go to Australia," says Martin Cash's great-great-great-grandnephew. "And I know how they feel. Because I want to go to Australia, too."

He smiled. He was in the Green Mountains of Vermont, come from California, packing for Montreal. He keeps house in London with his girlfriend, a Norwegian he met in Houston, and their baby boy. He is away from home for months at a time.

Martin Cash's descendant, Cashy, the Wimbledon champion, is only 22, but already he looks forward to when he can get back to Melbourne, get with his mates, stick the sheilas over in the corner, have another shout of Foster's and watch Aussie Rules football. "I couldn't think of anyplace else in the world to live," he says.

However, until these recent months, Pat Cash was a hero rejected by many of his self-conscious countrymen, who were either embarrassed by him or, worse, afraid that he would embarrass Australia. Cash was an unrepentant high school dropout given to vulgar temper on the court and discomfiting gaffes off it. Like some rowdy buccaneer, he favored long hair, a bandanna and a bejeweled earlobe. He seemed to inherit all the worst of America from his mother, Dorothy, who was born and bred in Chicago, and the worst of family from his father, Patrick Sr., a combative lawyer who championed his son's rebellious instincts and assailed his critics.

That he reminded people of another temperamental tennis player who loves the guitar and has a lawyer for a father made Cash all the more aggravating. If you don't care for John McEnroe, you sure aren't going to tolerate a discount McEnroe. Moreover, all the Aussie champions who came before Cash—no matter how fun-loving, audacious and flippant some might have been—were well-mannered, respectful and a credit to their mates.

When Cash won Wimbledon and clambered up into the stands to the players' box to embrace his coach and family—surely one of the most engaging actions ever by any athlete—his mother, who was watching at home on TV, was mortified. "I couldn't believe he would do that," says Dorothy. "The English will think. Oh, those Australians!"

What do you make of a 22-year-old whose two heroes are Mother Teresa and Clint Eastwood? While on court, Cash is demonstrative and bold, often venturing the most difficult shots. But by his own admission, he is painfully shy. Often when talking he turns his whole head—not just his eyes—away from the listener. As a result, he can come off as uncouth and rude.

Cash mumbled his way through one memorable press conference with his feet up on a table, while spittle and bits of a sandwich he was devouring spilled out of his mouth. In another, as cameras whirred, he leered in a joking aside about a trip he was to make to Queensland and the sexual adventures he planned there with three women. Last January, after he lost to Stefan Edberg in the final of the Australian Open, sponsored by Ford, his entire on-court speech consisted of the following: "I'm supposed to thank Ford and all that other junk, but I'll leave that to Stefan." Shortly before Wimbledon he referred to women's tennis as "rubbish."

Cash quit school for good at 15, but he had often been truant, "wagging" class to practice tennis. Even now, when he speaks of school, a ripe bitterness emerges. "I didn't like the teachers, and the teachers didn't like me," he says. "They let me know I was a lazy no-hoper, never going to be good at anything." When he discusses various tennis fines he has been assessed, the analogy he calls on is, "It was exactly like I was in school and they were the teachers."

Certainly his tennis teachers appear to have been justified in disciplining the unruly pupil. The 11th Australian to win the Wimbledon Gentlemen's Singles has put together this tennis blotter: threw temper tantrums in Davis Cup practice (fined); broke a locker in Adelaide and smashed a hole in a Portland, Ore., hotel room; abused the director of the Australian Open sufficiently in a private discussion that the Men's International Professional Tennis Council felt compelled to fine him; fired a mock moon at the crowd at the U.S. Open in '83 (fined); hurled a racket into the stands at Flushing Meadow in '84 after losing to Ivan Lendl in the semis (fined); was disqualified for bad behavior at an exhibition in Port Chester, N.Y.; shoved a TV cameraman in Brisbane last October; and received a $5,000 fine for vile language and racket abuse at the World Team Cup in Düsseldorf three months ago.

Despite this catalog of transgressions, Pat Sr. maintains that the Australian press—and the public in its wake—was too quick to condemn a young, unsophisticated lad. "We have what's called the tall-poppy syndrome," he says. "If anyone down here gets too tall, you cut 'em down. Some people say it's our 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not succeed. A Rolls-Royce drives by in America, the man standing on the corner says, 'Someday I'll be driving one.' Here he says, 'Who did he cheat to get that?' "

Critics in the press insist that the Cash family, along with Pat's coach, Ian Barclay, are unduly sensitive and pugnacious. Cash's prime antagonist in the media has been John Newcombe, the Aussie icon, who also writes a popular tennis column. Says Cash, "Newcombe started junking me and Ian, then everybody else jumped on the bandwagon."

The dispute came to a head late in 1983, when Newcombe compared Cash unfavorably with two of Cash's contemporaries, Mats Wilander and Jimmy Arias. The piece ended: "The comparison between the abilities of Wilander and Cash makes the Grand Canyon look like a crack in your living room plaster." In fact, the column wasn't venomous—it praised Cash in a couple of spots—but even granting the usual Mur-dochian sports-page hyperbole, the ending really was a bit much.

Months later, when feelings were still running high, Newcombe said, "I don't have anything against Pat. I think he's a nice bloke, and he's done everything that's been asked of him. But I do think the Cashes have brought most of it on themselves. Pat's father originally got mad at me simply because I was quoted as saying that Pat needed better ground strokes. But then, Pat Sr. has told me he thinks the media is the scum of the earth. And you just can't be like that. If you throw rackets and get criticized, you've got to wear it."

The Cashes and Barclay are not just Aussies; they are Melbourners, a grittier sporting breed. Melbourne is a football town (Pat Sr. played for the Hawthorn Hawks, a pro team, for five years), often windy and chilly, while Sydney is silvery and shiny, sails and sand. Dame Mabel Brookes, the wife of Australia's first Wimbledon champion, Norman Brookes, once said proudly, "Every respectable person from Melbourne has had pneumonia." And, just as proudly, Cash equates his triumph over Lendl on Centre Court "to a typical Aussie-rules final"—nothing classic or close, just the best side wearing the other down with toughness.

Beneath the hard-nosed exterior is a young man devoted to his parents. "Some people have goals in life," says Cash. "My mom's was simple: to raise her children as well as she could. Maybe she even did it too well. Maybe she spoiled us. But Dad's my stability. He's always understood me, because the way I am is the way he is. Even today, if anything goes wrong, I can go back to Dad."

Cash is a practicing Roman Catholic, and during Davis Cup ties he and John Fitzgerald, his doubles partner, attend Mass together. And despite his temper. Cash is a good sport. "I can't cheat," he says. "With my Catholic upbringing I'd feel too guilty the rest of the match." An older half-brother of Cash's committed suicide four years ago, and the family is convinced that at least some of Pat's erratic behavior at that time may be ascribed to shock and grief. "That did knock me around a little bit," he says, clearly uncomfortable, shifting and dropping his eyes.

As close as Cash is to his folks, and as much as he adores his son, Daniel, and his lover, Anne-Britt Kristiansen, he and Barclay have also forged an unusually strong bond. Apart from brief Davis Cup intervals, Cash has had but one coach since he was 11. Barclay, who drifted into coaching after an early career as a commercial artist, is known as Barkers. Now 48, he is a trim, dapper, silver-haired man who appears to have just missed out on the roles that went to Leslie Howard or David Niven.

Even more than Cash, Barclay has been the victim of defensive Australian rationale. Although he has schooled five junior world champions, the thinking goes: If the bloke wasn't a big name as a player, how can he coach our best prospects? Not surprisingly, Barclay grew defensive, never sure that someone with a world-class reputation wouldn't pirate Pat from him.

No one understands this better than Cash. If anything, his Wimbledon victory meant more to him for the vindication of his father and his coach than it did for himself. Pat's sister, Renee, Anne-Britt and his uncle, Brian, were also in the players' box, but Cash made his spur-of-the-moment climb for Barkers and Dad. "They can walk about with a smile on their faces now, can't they?" he says, beaming. "All the rubbishing they had to take. No more of that now."

Cash has always been fiercely loyal and a superb team player. He gave up football only when Barclay assured him that he could reach the top in tennis. "Maybe he was spoiled, but he's still the most generous boy I've ever seen," Barclay says. Often, it seems, a teammate's loss in Davis Cup appears to distress Cash more than his own defeats.

Barclay recalls when Cash was 15 and representing Australia in the Avvenire Cup for juniors, in Milan. He was playing doubles with an older teammate, Mark Hartnett, who suffered what turned out to be a stress fracture of the spine, and Cash had to cover almost the entire court. Australia won the match and the Cup. Then he told Barclay, "I'll come back next year and win this tournament for you in singles." And he did, beating Edberg in the final. "He made good his word," Barclay says. "Always does."

It is difficult to believe that any of Cash's fabled predecessors were more determined competitors. The Avvenire experience was only a juvenile precursor of the adult model. He is one game a set and two points a tiebreaker better in important competitions than he is in everyday competitions. He reached the quarters at Wimbledon in '86 just three weeks after an appendectomy. He won the '86 Davis Cup almost single-handedly. Against the U.S. in the semifinals, he came from one set down in both his singles matches. Then, against Sweden in the final, he beat Edberg on the first day and overcame a two-set deficit to defeat Mikael Pernfors in the clinching match.

The flip side is that Cash is suspected of jaking it in most tournaments. Remarkably, before he triumphed on Centre Court, he had won only three middling titles—two in Australia and one in Nancy, France. "I don't lay down in the other tournaments," Cash says. "I think it's the other way round. The other players say, 'Oh my, this is a Grand Slam.' You know what I'm saying?"

Well—

"I handle the pressure better."

Thanks to his Davis Cup heroics and Wimbledon victory, Cash no longer seems to be such an embarrassment Down Under. He's even called upon to make public-service commercials. One is a 20-minute promo film for the tourist board of the island state of Tasmania, where Martin Cash escaped from jail and became a Robin Hood in the bush. In the ad, the 20th-century Cash rides a horse (for the first time) and rescues a damsel in distress. "They gave the actress all the lines," he says. "You see, I don't think they knew whether I could read or write or anything."

He is chuckling. But his countrymen are not completely reassured. "You see," he says, "first it was, Can the kid do it? Then: He's a brat. Then: He's injured. Poor guy. Then: He has a comeback! Fantastic! And now: He's the Wimbledon champion! What a great Aussie! But then, all of a sudden: Wait, can he handle the pressure? I can see that coming. They're already starting on that one.

"But I don't care. What I'm proud of is that even with the injuries and all that stuff, I did it. It was worse than you could ever know. I wouldn't want to go through that again."

This time, for emphasis, he turns his shy head and looks square into the eyes of his listener.

PHOTOTOMMY HINDLEYAfter his victory, Cash felt at home all over London—not least on superhip King's Road.PHOTOTOMMY HINDLEYFlanked by well-wishers aping his headgear, Pat showed his prize at the Wimbledon Ball.PHOTOMANNY MILLANAs Cash demonstrated at Wimbledon, he saves his biggest game for his biggest days.PHOTOTOMMY HINDLEYMel Gibson? Sheep-dip! Anne-Britt knows she has got a hold on Australia's No. 1 hunk.