Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Why Cricket Matters.

A Cricket Blog
Owen Zupp

It's the middle of winter as I sit with my back to the fireplace at a local tavern while outside it is dark, cold and wet. All in all, the situation is about as far removed from the sunny surroundings of a cricket match as could ever be conjured. And yet, here at this moment as I sit caught between a shiver and an ale, cricket is central to my very being.

Across the table from me sits one of my best mates; Predds. We discuss everything from raising kids to learning to fly, making "billy carts" and jogging with strangers that possess an unscheduled urge to use the bathroom. It's a relaxed evening for two friends to catch up, chew life over and most importantly, share a laugh. And still cricket is as distant as the first days of summer, but a central theme.

You see, Predds and I met through the wonderful game of cricket some time late in the last century. His first memory of me is when I ungraciously tore a hamstring, while my first memory of him is the bloke who laughed so hard that I was sure that he was going to tear a hernia. A more amenable gentleman and doting father you could not hope to meet. Predds is also a very accomplished cricketer, playing first grade in Sydney while still a schoolboy and graduating to the NSW State "Colts" team. Today, he still possesses that air of natural sporting ease that we less-gifted folk envy. He is on first name terms with a number of cricketers who have worn the Baggy Green cap and there is little doubt that had he chosen that road, he would have had a fair shot at the title too. But another vocation called for Predds.

By comparison, I was an average schoolboy cricketer who clambered to captain my school's First XI and play a little grade cricket before my vocation took me down another road. I played against some of the greats when they were just lads and that only served to reinforce the difference in ability between those who can and those who REALLY CAN play the game. Even so, I maintained a passion for cricket and played here and there as the odd working hours of my career permitted.

Despite the significant gap in our cricketing pedigree, it was the game that led Predds and I to become friends; to share common interests away from the game, to interact socially and compare photos of our children. Furthermore, our perspective on life has been shaped in many ways by the virtues of cricket as lessons in disappointment, pressure, humility, perseverance and satisfaction are all wonderfully imparted in those hours 'in the middle'.

Like a chess match where humans are the pieces, cricket calls for both the ability to respond in the instant and yet contemplate the future with measured patience. It exposes our shortcomings for all to see but the simple satisfaction of that one shot that cannons off the bat is an instant that can cross the decades. Sportsmanship and the value of teamwork are key to success and essential in an honourable defeat. And once the sun has set, the covers are on the pitch and the game has concluded, the friendships continue to grow.

So here Predds and I sit, two beers and a few hours down the track. The conversation has touched on cricket, but more on those folks we have come to know through the great game and the wonderful settings that have provided a spectacular backdrop to even the most mediocre performances on the pitch. At its deepest core, cricket is about the flesh and blood, the grass and skies, and less about the willow and the leather.

Perhaps that ís why cricket matters............

1 comment:

  1. Yes, cricket does matter for all those reasons. Here are few more from all the way around the world.

    While I'm and American and relatively new to the Great Game (I saw my first Test in 2004), I have fully embraced it and I've been fully embraced by it.
    My love for the game has taken me almost around the world and along the way I've become the USA Ambassador to the Bradman Museum!

    Try and imagine such a thing happening any place in the world of sport or for that matter any place else at all.

    Can you see a football fan from a non footballing country doing that with FIFA? Can you see a yachting fan from a land-locked country doing ISAF? Me thinks not.

    Every cricketing fan, in every country, from every social strata that I have encountered on my 8 year journey has been warm and welcoming. Always ready to share a pint or two and plenty more stories.

    I've had pints with Freddie Flintoff and lovely chats with my pal Jim Patel at my local gas station. Each were special in their own way.

    Perhaps that is why cricket matters....