Cricket is at times a lonely and solitary game. At least I thought so.
You bat by yourself. You bowl by yourself. You stand in the field waiting for a catch, then run after the ball and throw it back. By yourself.
Waiting for a catch or the chance to run after the ball can seem like an eternity meaning fielding is the longest waiting game. As a parent said to me during an under 16s game, “Cricket is a team game played by individuals”. True but there’s more to it than that.
And certainly with the tragic death of Phillip Hughes (who remains 63 not out forever), I felt that cricket is a lonely and solitary game.
I didn’t want to pick up a bat or bowl or field anymore. I didn’t want to watch or listen to the latest T20 or one day or test match. I didn’t even want to put my bat out. But I did.
I felt I had lost another who knew the storms and sunshine that is cricket.
Then I listened to Michael Clarke’s eulogy at Phillip Hughes’ funeral. It opened my eyes and my heart and my memory.
Cricket isn’t a lonely and solitary game at all. I remembered that for too short a season, with a mate, I coached an under 14s boys side.
Some were exuberant, some were talented, some were sorely disappointed and then rewarded. I went through it all with them. I knew what it was like. I had experienced the same myself. In that season, I realized that that cricket wasn’t a game of physical ability or talent but a game of heart and mind.
And extraordinary fun. I can remember being on the sideline as the fast bowler from Croatia encouraged the batsman from Vietnam to “Go for the zac.” (Hit six runs). Which he did! And I laughed and laughed.
What I had forgotten and what Phillip Hughes and Michael Clarke together reminded me was this.
Everyone who picks up a bat or bowls a ball or fields or ‘keeps are part of a band of brothers and sisters. We’ve all been through the same storms and sunshine and we all know what it’s like for anyone else who plays.
We all know what its like to go for the zac and succeed or fail.
That is Phillip Hughes’ legacy. Thank you for rekindling my love of cricket. Rest in Peace but go for the zac!