OPINION: On behalf of the Australian sports media and cricket fans across this sunburnt nation, it's time to officially say sorry.
These aren't token words. A journalist finds it almost as hard to utter the ''s'' word as John Howard did.
We mistook the jazzy haircuts, the stunners hanging off your arm and those Bonds ads where you caught tennis balls in your jocks as a lack of character.
News of your dust-up with Simon Katich a few years ago only seemed to reinforce those perceptions.
Katich is the ultimate bloke's bloke.
You're more likely to find a poster of Sonny Bill Williams on Hazem El Masri's bedroom wall than any hair gel in Katto's bathroom.
It was only natural the typical Aussie bloke would side with Katich, a man they could relate to more.
How could this upstart who used to grace the social pages as much as the sport pages captain Australia?
It's a revered position reserved for tough men like Allan Border, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. Hard-nosed warriors that would rather hammer a slab in the dressing sheds than go anywhere near a cocktail party.
How wrong we were.
The past two years, you have proven you have more strength of character and toughness than any of us mere mortals could ever hope to have.
Four double centuries in a calendar year, against top-quality opposition no less in South Africa and India, has proven that in spades.
Perhaps we were jealous of a young, good-looking man with the world at his feet. Let's face it, every Australian male dreams about captaining their country, courting fashion models and being invited to the big parties.
Or maybe it's that you have changed your priorities and ideals, given yourself a complete image makeover in order to endear yourself to the public.
Either way, it's time the ''metrosexual'' image you've been unfairly slapped with meets a long overdue death.
It's not your fault you like to wear the latest cool duds and like a good time away from the field.
There's no reason why you should have to apologise for that.
Your results with the cricket bat, and the decisions you make as our leader, are the only two credentials you need worry about.
On both counts, you're passing with flying colours, and that's all that matters.
The only people that are more sorry than us are those at Slazenger who decided not to renew their bat sponsorship with you at the start of last year.
That would be like Psy's manager walking out on him before Gangnam Style exploded around the world.
You've started your new life with your lovely new wife, now it's time we started our relationship with you afresh.
No doubt Slazenger is wishing it could as well.
- Sydney Morning Herald