Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Cricket Still the Gentleman's Game

As a fanatical fan of our summer game, despite the frequent dearth of summer weather, I have to insert a little encomium for its superior virtues in the wake of a worthy victory. Superior to what? Well, to soccer for a start. Having been finding sports pages filled with transfer news and gossip about managers all through the close season and now with the football season spilling even more voraciously into cricket's shrinking space in the national focus, I have to confess to a profound sense of depression. Who cares about these overpaid, and in England's case, second rate 'superstars'? I feel sick to my stomach when seeing these immature young narcissists cavort when scoring or mime fatal injury when pushed over just a tiny bit roughly.

OK cricket can be a bit boring at times and its major stars can irritate too, even in some cases, be capable of cheating or match fixing, though not in England's case to our knowledge. But the wonderful victory of our side over the super strong Indian team was something to relish and be proud of. It was a magnificent display of perseverance and perfect application of sporting skill. If only our soccer team could have shown some of this composure and quality in South Africa.

And there's another thing, hugely important: the spirit in which the game is played. As a young trainee sportsman in school I was taught that you should always show politeness and respect to one's opponents, however much one might fulminate against them off the field. This doesn't always hold good in cricket but the game is still a universe away from the squalid pettiness of soccer. I recall when Shane Warne, someone we England fans had cause to hate for his brilliance and Aussie chutzpah, took his 600t wicket in Test cricket. Without hesitation, everyone at Old Trafford rose to their feet and cheered the great player that he is.

And this is from the article by Vic Marks in last Sunday's Observer:

'They(the crowd) stood and applauded as one... to greet Sachin Tendulkar. Does Ryan Giggs get this sort of welcome at Eastlands or Wayne Rooney at Anfield'?

I rest my case.

Spot on Bill. Another example was Ricky Ponting at Edgbaston in 2009. Despite the pugnacious, combatitive Ponting getting some light-hearted boos on the way out to bat (much exaggerated by the media) when he passed Border to become the highest Aussie run scorer in history he received a massive standing ovation around the whole ground.
Thought we'd agree on this one. I recall the Ponting ovation and, though I initially did not like the guy, came to see he was a great player worthy of respect. Aussies are realists re cricket. If you play well they'll give you full credit; if you play badly they'll make fun of you.
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