Friday, 31 July 2015

Column 25, 2015 – You'll never walk alone

Printed in The Cricket Paper, issue 128, Friday July 31, 2015.
[Full text below]

        (Not all that delighted with how I was subbed this week.
        Suggest you read the original text, below the pic.)

I got myself into another ‘walking debate’ on twitter again the other day.

A columnist (not a cricket specialist; a political commentator writing about cricket) expressed the opinion that Jos Buttler walking in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s was refreshing, and caused him to reflect once more on what a shame it is that cricket is no longer on free-to-air telly, as that’s exactly the sort of honourable conduct he thought impressionable youngsters should witness from sporting heroes.

A little dewy-eyed perhaps, but fundamentally I agree. (Somewhat surprisingly, as I disagree with most of what he says.)

A cricket writer expressed derision for this bleeding heart sentiment. I enquired after the nature of the contempt. Another writer joined in. Here, in essence, is their stance.

Walking is not a thing, said one. It doesn’t matter if you do it or not, we shouldn’t focus on it. All it does is fuel the ‘spirit of cricket’ pomposity which blights the game. Exactly, said the other. The spirit of cricket is baloney. [I’m paraphrasing.] In fact, I’ll go further: it does matter, walking is selfish, no professional cricketer should ever walk as it’s never in their team’s best interests.

I understand this attitude, especially in the professional game with professional umpires. But I disagree with it. Which is fine, of course. Other opinions are available.

In their view, the issue is whether the umpire thinks you hit it. In mine, the issue is whether you think you hit it.

You hit it, they catch it, you’re out. That’s cricket. I don’t mean that’s ‘the spirit of cricket’, I mean that’s cricket. That’s the game.

Their version seems to be “don’t-get-caught-getting-caught”. Which, as well as less fair, to me also seems a lot less interesting than cricket.

Saturday was the last of our league derbies, against Hyde. We know them well, share nets and players for friendlies, midweek and indoor leagues. This always lends Saturday derbies spice.

I turn my head to see the ball hit the keeper’s gloves and the slips go up. I didn’t hit it. I’m sure I didn’t hit it. If I thought I had, I’d be walking.

The cordon’s clearly convinced, but only one opinion matters. I turn back to see it delivered via an unequivocally raised index finger as the appeals turn to celebrations. I feel that momentary flash of indignation at being given out, usually reserved for LBWs. That’s life. No one said it was fair. Head down, I turn for the pavilion.

I’m not even halfway there when a second, rather larger indignation creeps over me. This one is much more complicated and subtle. These people I play cricket with, teammates on other days, are going to assume I did that on purpose. They’ll think I hit it and deliberately stood my ground. That’s what it’ll look like: like I’m playing “don’t-get-caught-getting-caught” instead of cricket.

Talk about not fair.

- ends 485 words -

No comments:

Post a Comment