Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Tag: Test cricket

Michael Clarke : Three Moments

Michael Clarke is about to play his last cricket Test. Sadly, he will leave the game as an Ashes losing Test captain regardless of the result.

For many people that will be his legacy. For some, this is the time to criticise and to bring up the past.  But not for me.

Here are the three moments of Michael Clarke that I will treasure in ascending order.

First was that magnificent innings of 329. Apart from the score, he never looked like getting out.  But there was more. He never looked like he would stop batting.

Second was his beautiful and sad eulogy to his little brother Phillip Hughes. There was in that moment, a man who had lost but showed also how much he gave.

Third and most treasured was the first time I ever saw Clarke captain a side.  It was at Perth and he was suddenly placed in charge of the Australia T20 side. I had the sound turned off (it’s the best way to watch cricket). I have no idea what he said to his players so I relied on the body language. But everyone he spoke to stood a little taller and played a little better.

And that’s what cricket and leadership is all about.

Michael Clarke : Three Moments

Michael Clarke is about to play his last cricket Test. Sadly, he will leave the game as an Ashes losing Test captain regardless of the result.

For many people that will be his legacy. For some, this is the time to criticise and to bring up the past.  But not for me.

Here are the three moments of Michael Clarke that I will treasure in ascending order.

First was that magnificent innings of 329. Apart from the score, he never looked like getting out.  But there was more. He never looked like he would stop batting.

Second was his beautiful and sad eulogy to his little brother Phillip Hughes. There was in that moment, a man who had lost but showed also how much he gave.

Third and most treasured was the first time I ever saw Clarke captain a side.  It was at Perth and he was suddenly placed in charge of the Australia T20 side. I had the sound turned off (it’s the best way to watch cricket). I have no idea what he said to his players so I relied on the body language. But everyone he spoke to stood a little taller and played a little better.

And that’s what cricket and leadership is all about.

The Hidden Game Of Cricket (Thoughts On Phillip Hughes)

The terrible injury to Phillip Hughes gives some small insight to the hidden game of cricket.

Cricket is seen so often seen as played in a village green. Players just seem to be standing around suspended in a state of ennui. Then the spell is broken. The quiet tap of bat and ball followed by quiet applause.

Or cricket too is seen as baseball on steroids. Our radio and TV is so dominated by the hit-a-thon of T20 or one-day cricket or even indoor cricket. All we see is an action packed blur of players bowling, batting, catching, throwing and running.

Or cricket too is seen through the lens of Test cricket the ultimate physical and psychological long march.

Yet the Phillip Hughes incident as revealed by Malcolm Knox shows cricket has its hidden physical dangers. As anyone who has played the game even casually knows, even a tennis ball hurts and leaves its mark. And even despite the improved protective equipment, players still get hurt.

As Russell Jackson mentions, there’s a psychological impact. Perhaps this thought experiment may suffice.

Imagine someone gives you a piece of wood or a stick. Then he or she runs about 30 or 40 or 50 metres away. Then they run towards you. At about 20 metres they throw a ball at you.  You’re meant to hit the ball and not let it hit you.

In essence and in spite of physical and mental fitness, technique and judgement, protective equipment or rules, cricket is a scary game.

One false move and you’re out or hurt or worse.

The hidden game of cricket is to accept the risk and setbacks and continue to play on. Knowing full well what happened before or could happen again.

Which is why Phillip Hughes is braver than you’ll ever know.

My sincere wish as a former player of virtually no note is that he recovers quickly and returns to the game. And be courageous than he was before because he will have to.

And continue to play the hidden game of cricket.

 

 

Australian Institute of Sledging?

As a cricket lover I’m following the current Test series.

Cricket picture

Cricket picture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My hope is that one more Aussie win will return the Ashes to us.
Yet cricket is not a predictable game. And it can be overshadowed by outside issues. Such as sledging.
Sledging is sustained verbal banter (truthfully outright verbal abuse) designed to unsettle an opponent.
All players have encountered it. It is more pervasive than admitted. I rarely indulged in it. In all honesty I saw sledging as a waste of time.
Sledging is verbal abuse in cricket

Sledging is verbal abuse in cricket (Photo credit: absentbabinski)

Cricket is both physically and mentally adversarial. It was a complete surprise to hear opponents calling your names and saying they wanted you out. That’s why they did more than turn up for practice!
And most of the insults (sorry misdirected advice) were of a very poor standard indeed. Usually just silly sexist names and insults. Most (nearly all) weren’t funny.
So I rarely replied and only then to give coaching advice! “I’m just trying to keep him interested (after playing and missing at a wide ball)”. Apart from that I never really repeated much of what was said to me.
And I had an expectation that first grade, first class and international cricket would have a higher standard of verbal banter (sorry sledging). So with an hour to spare I quickly thumbed through Crickets Greatest Sledges. And finished it in 10 minutes.
Nope most of them I had heard before in under 16s and third and fourth grade. The best was a batsman telling a bowler to go fetch the ball after it was hit. I was told that at practice all the time !!
How disappointing !
And this highlights the problem with sledging. The standard just isn’t good enough. And it needs to be improved. In fact, Australia should aspire to be a world class country of sporting sledgers.
And starting with cricket, there should be more emphasis on improving this skill from junior cricket through first grade and into international cricket. A sporting program should be put together to train and educate cricketers to sledge better. An improvement in these skills would improve it as a spectacle.
But in my humble opinion, the best way to improve sledging is not for it to rely upon insults. There are only a limited number of insults (see above!).
The best way to improve sledging is to educate and train our sports people in the fine art of humourous verbal banter.
Why?
It’s obvious!
  1. Firstly, sportsmen and women will enjoy the game more and deal better with the games ups and downs!
  2. Secondly, their opponents will have to deal with the off putting effects of on field humour.
  3. Thirdly, all sportsmen and women will have a clear post game career path post sport as after dinner speakers, stand up comedians and authors.
  4. Fourthly and most importantly, the stump microphones can be left on ALL the time!

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