A COURIER-MAIL back page story panning Hervey Bay cricketer Nathan Hauritz for allegedly selling off his representative cricket gear at a garage sale contained a number of major inaccuracies according to the journalist, Stephen Birch, who wrote the initial version.
Birch admitted yesterday his article had been changed by sub editors because "that's the way it goes sometimes";.
He also admitted that Hauritz was not in fact selling his gear at a garage sale nor giving it away to anybody which his story said.
The story titled "Spun Out"; filled the back page of the Courier Mail and talked about how Hauritz had held a garage sale and had thrown out and sold off Australian and representative cricket gear.
It intimated that he had spat the dummy over his recent axing and was divorcing himself from ever having played for Australia.
Some of the comments that flowed online as a result of the story panned the young cricketer.
One reader launched into Hauritz calling him "a spoilt brat";.
"You got to play 17 tests for Australia and spit the dummy and sell your stuff because you may not get picked again. There are thousands of Aussies who would give anything to play just one Test for Australia,"; the reader said.
When questioned about the accuracy of his report Birch admitted that what was printed was wrong in key areas.
He said he had written the piece after stumbling upon a garage sale where he had happened to notice Hauritz sitting up the back of the garage going through a box of cricket gear.
He said he walked over to Nathan and asked if he could buy some of the gear and Hauritz had given him a couple of the pieces.
The journalist at no time identified himself, nor did he talk to Nathan and ask him why he had been so generous to give him a valuable piece of sporting memorabilia. Instead he had raced off to work and penned a story that the Hauritz family has labelled as defamatory and misleading.
Hauritz has refused to comment on the article, but has already contacted both Australian and NSW cricket officials to debunk the story and to give his side.
Birch's story was particularly brutal on Hauritz. In part he said:
"Hauritz may as well have been wearing a sign, but he said it anyway: I don't play for them anymore.";
"It was perhaps cathartic. The day after helping NSW to a big Sheffield Shield win over South Australia with three wickets and 148 runs, he was ridding himself of Test gear like so much debris.";
The Hauritz household in Hervey Bay has been left stunned and angered by the article and is now asking if they can ever trust another sports journalist in this country again.
Their son will no doubt be asking the same question.