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.



Vale Gough Whitlam

Having heard the sad news of Gough Whitlam, it reminded me of this.

Many years ago I was asked to scrutineer (check the validity of votes cast as they were counted by the electoral officers) for a friend running for office.
Luckily as the son of two political parents, I learnt scrutineering at my mother’s knee.

In this case, my friend was one of two candidates for this office so the job was as easy as could be. But I had a pleasant surprise.

On one of the ballot papers, someone had neatly printed Whitlam,E. G. added a box and had filled in the number 1 leaving the other candidates blank.
On the day of his passing all I can do is agree!

Environment Victoria BreakThrough : A New Era of Climate Activism

Presented by the Sustainable Living Foundation, the National Centre for Climate Restoration BreakThrough 2014 October forum had a surprising thread of hope and optimism.

So often climate change events have an overriding pessimism and a sense of acting against forces beyond our control (political, economic as well as the environment).

Perhaps they took the view that optimism is that path taken once pessimism is exhausted.

The first speaker was David Spratt author of Climate Code Red who talked about dangerous climate change.

He made several major points:

  1. Climate science research is firstly out-of-date by the time it is received by the IPCC.
  2. 2 degrees of warming is no margin of safety.
  3. The carbon budget is spent.

The second speaker was Paul Gilding, former executive director of Greenpeace International who injected the note of optimism. He took the view that ultimately the complex economic system will adapt to the environment through markets and regulation. He did note that the changes would be disruptive and compared it to a war effort (as did David Spratt) and gave the example of the unexpected success of the world-wide adoption of solar power as well as the collapsing coal market. He took the view that even reducing emissions to zero (as advocated by Beyond Zero Emissions) was not impossible.

The final speaker was Mark Wakeham, CEO of Environment Victoria who continued the optimism whilst advocating a strategic approach. He talked about the power of energy efficiency and reduced power consumption to create climate change mitigation and the power of individual and community advocacy.

All in all a night of optimism. But much needs to be done.


Having It All?

Imagine that you’re being interviewed for an executive high-level management role.
And you’re asked the question, “How do you manage being an executive and running a family?”
And you reply, “I’ve shown its possible to have it all.”
And the interviewer asks you to expand on that.
So you say,
“I hold down a busy job I schedule meetings and work around my family.
I attend my children’s school plays and other events.
I come home and cook and clean and kiss the children good night.”
Now if you’re a man you probably won’t get asked that question.
If you’re a woman, then as Annabel Crabb notes you probably need a wife! Or perhaps work for Apple or Facebook where as a work perk women have the option to freeze their eggs.
If you’re a man, perhaps you need to be a billionaire to have this choice!
As for the rest of us, having it all is a struggle for women overtly and men not so overtly.
Perhaps the wrong question is being asked here. How do we change the workplace so we can be more flexible?
Perhaps this question should be asked: How do we change the way we work?


Earn or Learn : The Government’s Misunderstood Purpose of Education

There has been much upset and anger at the Government instigated changes to education:

  • University fee increases.
  • University debt interest increase.
  • University HECS proportion increase.
  • Commercialisation of universities.

The proponents chant earn or learn, competition will work its magic, fees will be less and new university places will be created.

The opponents are derided as leaners, bludgers, selfish thugs and bullies.

Now that the name-calling has begun, there can be no argument.


That’s not the real argument.

That’s not the real debate.

Separately the above changes are disquieting.

Together the above changes show the Federal Government and its associated interest groups don’t understand the real purpose of education.

Earn or Learn : The Misunderstood Purpose of Education

We’re being told through the post-Budget earn and learn mantra that the purpose of education is to get a job. Easily said from a comfortable corporate armchair. Especially given the assumption that there’s enough educational capacity for those who want to learn and there are enough jobs for those who have learnt. Neither are true: in general, there are more unemployed than can be educated and there are less jobs for those who have the correct education.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case education would be purely pedagogical, utilising knowledge and skills for a specific predetermined purpose. Andragogy or adult learning as we know it would not exist. How then could anyone explain how adults and children too of their own accord become self-taught experts in subjects that may or may not be part of the school curriculum without regard to the possibility of being employed.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then anyone who finishes a qualification and then gets a job has all the knowledge and skills required. They have the qualification, they don’t need to learn any further. But from personal experience and existing research, much education (up to 70%) occurs on the job. Which means the employee is still learning despite attaining the right qualification.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Arabs, just to name a few or during the Renaissance or the start of the adult educational movement, would not have learnt and then recorded much more knowledge and skills than was required to fulfil just a job. And here is a clue.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then there would be no opponents to third-world girls and women being educated. After all better schooled girls and women would make better mothers and wives. And in the opposition to women being educated whether in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, etc lies the clue.

Beyond a Job: The Real Purpose Of Education

The purpose of education is not to just get a job.

  • The purpose of education is to learn new knowledge and skills and create new opportunities for yourself that you never thought existed. Ask any self-taught expert.
  • The purpose of education is to learn and educate others. Wherever and whenever with whoever. Whether it’s in the workplace or home or community. And learn from others. Anyone who has ever taught anyone anything knows implicitly that every learner is a teacher and every teacher a learner. Ask any adult educator, they’re still learning.
  • The purpose of education is to create new ideas and concepts to create opportunities for others that no-one though existed. Wherever and whenever with whoever. Ask any artist or entrepreneur.
  • But the real purpose of education is to change yourself. And others. And the world.




Cory Bernardi and Freedom of Speech

Much has been made of the recent comments by Senator Cory Bernardi regarding his book the Conservative Revolution (see the reviews and Twitter). All I will say is that I disagree with him. Based on his expressed values I almost certainly won’t read his book. And like Bill Shorten I can give personal examples!

It won’t be long until comments are offered that Cory Bernardi is exercising his freedom of speech. It may look like I’m ghost writing for Andrew Bolt or Piers Ackerman. There may even be an appeal to the new Human Rights Commissioner for Freedom Tim Wilson.

And according to the framers of free speech (warning: Wikipedia reference!), he should express his opinion without fear of penalty.

Why? Implicit in the right to free speech is that it is a right for all. Freedom of speech is for everyone.

Which presents a problem for those like me who disagree strongly.

It’s way too easy to tell him to shut up or insult him. Some have already.

The problem with that is my explicit and implicit attitude : the only person who should exercise freedom of speech is me and me alone.

Which means I can enjoy my moment of free speech. And silence everyone else’s freedom of speech.

Which mean freedom of speech is lost in the long run for me and for everyone else.

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.
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!

After the Game : The Extended Failure

End of the footy season and time to reflect for the winners and losers.
Perhaps from the players, coaches and supporters point of view but certainly from mine, the hardest thing for me as a perfectionist is the extended failure. Whether its a relationship or a project, where i have poured myself completely into it and completely crashed and burned. Much like in sport for instance, where all effort has been made and little result returned.
And when I play it back as if describing the experience to an unbiased bystander, I hear them say, no one should have gone through what you went through. The listener is empathetic but not sympathetic. The listener doesn’t feel sorry for me in any way shape or form just says what he/she says. Implied in the listening is that thought: well now he’s  found out what i know and he may be a little wiser. There’s no pity for me at all which ought to be disappointing!! Besides the disappointment has come and gone now : it’s too late for that now. Besides ongoing disappointment is boring, I’m better off choosing differently.
And what I realise is that yes I’ve failed but I’m also intact. And will be whatever happens. And that’s when the miracle occurs!! But it’s not the one I’ve dedicated myself to: whether relationship or career or project. It’s an insight : that whatever happened happened and there’s something better. It’s just not what I pinned my hopes and dreams to! Wait and see!

Anzac Day : Some Reflections

Despite learning about Anzac Day all my life, it wasn’t until recently I found its meaning to me.

Monument to Atatürk

Monument to Atatürk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a child, I did attend Dawn Service with my Dad. I tried my best to stay awake and not appear bored.I remember reading the plaque which had far too many names for a small country town. But it held little impact.

At school, I learnt all the history. The First World War, the enlistment of the Anzacs, the training in Egypt, the failed attack on the Dardanelles, the Anzac landings, withdrawal, the trench warfare in France. But history much like news only happens to other people. It had little meaning to me.

But at secondary school, my attitude changed some more. As part of a team working on the school magazine, a debate arose over what to write about the school’s Anzac Day commemoration. Should we put the Ode of Remembrance or something else?

In the end, I lobbied to have the last two verses published. Reading those last two verses as a boy of 14 or 15, about young men going to war and dying really hit home. I felt sad for their loss and thought that but for a mere few decades I could have been at Gallipoli.

The next shift occurred while reading my family tree. Several great-uncles had lost their lives in the First World War, at Gallipoli and France. I absorbed the information and accepted it. After all a family tree is names on a page.

But there I was standing in our street in Footscray talking to our neighbours about its history. After the First World War, many houses were simply vacated as fathers, brothers and sons did not come back home. I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. Here was the emptiness of war. 

The Dawn Service that I had attended with my spouse (her grandfather was in Changi) the year before suddenly had new poignancy for me.

But the final word, belongs to Kemal Ataturk and his words over the Turkish, Australian, British and New Zealand graves in Gallipoli:

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…
You are now living in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
To me Ataturk is talking about Australia as well. That is what the Anzacs fought for. That is what Anzac Day means to me.

The Gonski Masterstroke (Still Confusing Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott)

A month ago, I wrote a post on Gonski and here’s an update: 

Gonski infographic

But that is merely focussing on tactics instead of strategy. The reforms and their introduction are a strategic masterstroke for the following reasons:

  1. They are a clear and understandable reform to educational funding. The Gonski reforms mean that schools will be funded per student with extra to overcome disadvantage. Prior to Gonski, educational funding arrangements in Australia were incomprehensible.
  2. These reforms have been generally well received. There were protests regarding university funding changes (cutbacks or spending deferrals) made to finance these reforms. There have been some voices of dissent stating Gonski favours the haves over the have nots. But no educational counter revolution has occurred! The streets aren’t full of parents, teachers and students saying No to Gonski!
  3. Even in the ALP, where public versus private school funding has been a issue for decades, Gonski has laid the issue to rest. Because of Gonski, there will be no more hit lists as per Mark Latham in the 2004 Federal Election campaign.
  4. Most critically, the reforms have outflanked the LNP premiers, Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne presenting them with an issue that they cannot circumvent.

The LNP Premiers’ Dilemma:

  • If the LNP Premiers sign up to Gonski they’re seen as supporting the Gillard ALP Government. Worse, they are prevented by the Gonski conditions from making cuts to education spending (already occurring in NSW, Victoria and Queensland). O’Farrell has stated that he is in favour of Gonski on its own merits.
  • If the LNP Premiers don’t sign up to Gonski, it automatically (and has now) becomes a Federal and State election issue. Anyone who votes for the Gonski reforms is automatically registering a protest vote against the burgeoning State education spending cuts and the current educational funding model.

Tony Abbott’s and Christopher Pyne’s Dilemma:

  • If they agree with Gonski they’re seen as supporting the Gillard ALP Government. Even if Abbott had agreed in principle with the Gonski reforms and said they were too expensive, he would still be seen as supporting the centrepiece of the Gillard ALP Government re-election platform.
  • If they disagree with Gonski and support the current educational funding model, the current squabbling will worsen as education spending cuts (State and possibly Federal) bite.
  • Unfortunately, the position Pyne and Abbott have chosen is to criticise Gonski and state that the present system is better and that topping it up will make it even so. Their response is confusing and unclear.

So why is the title of this article not misleading?

  • In time, at least the ALP State Premiers will sign up to the Gonski reforms.
  • Gonski is now an election issue because of Abbott’s and the LNP State Premiers’ (except NSW’s O’Farrell) refusal to engage.
  • Consequently, the IGiveAGonski grassroots campaign will continue up until September 14th and beyond if there is a change of Government.
  • Abbott, Pyne and the LNP Premiers alternative to Gonski is the existing incomprehensible funding model and spending cuts which is no policy at all.

This issue is not going away. And it hasn’t!