Proud Aussie Jason Gillespie has heard the wisecrack from his countrymen.

You know? The one that says, when it comes to behaviour, they don’t cross the line but they might head-butt it from time to time.

He thinks it is one of the most stupid things he has ever come across.

Sussex’s head coach admits he has thought long and hard about the maxim by which he always played his cricket growing up back home – hard but fair.

He knows from experience the touring Aussies who take on Sussex today will run the gauntlet when they move on to the international stage in the coming weeks.

Gillespie certainly took a bit of flak himself as a long-haired fast bowler (below).

The Argus:

He can laugh about that these days. Most of it, anyway.

Now, as the Aussies return to action after their catastrophic tour to South Africa, Gillespie has told The Argus how the men in the Baggy Green caps, or indeed any colours, can be role models.

Gillespie was as shocked as anyone by Sandpapergate.

Amid the subsequent public furore, he also expressed concern for the welfare of the players banned – Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

And, privately, he thought about what it means to play hard but fair.

Gillespie told The Argus: “Australians don’t like losing. We want to win.

“It’s ingrained into you as you’re growing up. You always see that ‘hard but fair’ line. Playing to win and all that sort of stuff.

“I’ve read a lot of articles and heard a lot of interviews with players and former players.

“They say maybe in the recent past it has become a bit clouded with that ‘hard but fair’.

“I’ve heard a lot of rubbish lines. You know, ‘We don’t cross the line but we head-butt it’.

“That’s one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard.

“I always ask myself what does playing hard but fair look like.

“Playing within the rules or the laws of the game. For me, that is being fair.

“The hard bit? I’ve always interpreted that when I played by giving it your absolute all, showing that pride in playing for your country, showing them the passion and love you have for the game.

“If you are running around and playing the game to your 100% ability and you are playing within the laws of the game, I think that is almost a definition of a role model.

“If a young kid sees that and he sees, to give an example, a fast bowler charging in and giving it his absolute all and getting into a battle with the batter and throwing himself around in the field, that for me is pride in the cap, pride in wearing the shirt.

“It’s passion and for me that is what rubs off on little kids on the side of the field.

“What doesn’t rub off on kids – or does rub off but in a negative way – is shouting matches or complaining over the umpires’ decision, all these negative things that creep in.”

Gillespie knows all about the heat of an Ashes series – or even one-day internationals between England and Australia.

He was laughing as he recalled: “I copped that much on the field from the crowd, especially when I came to England.

“I used to get the ‘Gypo, gypo, where’s your caravan?’ all the time.

“It used to make me laugh. I used to have a bit of fun with it, it didn’t bother me.

“The only time it annoyed me was when someone had had a bit too much to drink and was yelling abuse and was actually getting close enough that he was spitting on me.

“I thought that was pretty rude!

“But I found by and large that the crowds here just wanted to engage in a bit of banter.

“It’s okay for them to get stuck into the opposition but swearing at you and stuff, you just think, ‘Mate, you need to reassess how much you have to drink’.”

The sandpaper-related banter has already started.

We saw that at Leeds at the weekend – and Australia weren’t even playing.

More will follow, even if it isn’t at Hove.

Gillespie said: “The Aussies have got to accept that they’re going to cop it - and they already have accepted it.

“They know it. They have just got to swallow their pride and suck it up.

“We have been hearing a lot of positive talk coming out of the Aussie camp, acknowledgement that, okay, maybe we haven’t been the best we can be.

“Maybe we have gone away a bit from that ‘play hard but fair’.

“It will be interesting to see how the boys go.

“I’m very confident they will go out there and show what it means to them to play for Australia.”

The Aussies are missing pace men Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins but Gillespie believes they will offer his side the test he wants.

He said: “We know what has happened in the recent months.

“There has been a big turnover in personnel on and off the field for Cricket Australia.

“Knowing Justin as I do, this team will be well drilled.

“They will know their roles and they will come out and play the game hard, play the game fair.

“There are spots up for grabs for them. They are a year away from the World Cup and there’s going to be guys wanting to impress.

“This will be their first hit out under Justin so they will all want to make it count.

“When the big three quicks come back, that will be three positions which are taken from this current squad.

“All those bowlers know that.

“They will all be chomping at the bit here and this will be a really good opportunity for them to show what they can do.

“I’m expecting them to come out pretty hard at us which is great. “That’s what I want.”