Cricket has been the one enduring sporting love of my life. Today many Australians are celebrating the series victory over our traditional rivals, England.
Some of us are not.
‘Test cricket’ matches have been played between our two countries for 130 years. Cricket is more than just a game requiring technical skills and physical endurance. As each game is played over five consecutive days, complex and subtle tactical manoeuvres are required to deal with the vagaries of changing pitch and weather conditions. But most of all, cricket has always demanded of it’s players an exemplary level of sportsmanship both on and off the field, including respect for opponents, and winning or losing with grace and dignity.
This year, players from both teams have violated the proud traditions of the game. Australia, as the host nation needs to take most responsibility. The on-field behaviour of our players has been utterly disgraceful. Verbal abuse, intimidation and threats of physical violence to opponents might belong with other sports, but not cricket.
We have witnessed these highly-paid sporting heroes of today, who are the role models for our young cricketers of the future, behaving like loudmouthed thugs and disrespectful uncouth showponies.
Cricket deserves better than this.
Much, much better.
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Update; 30th December 2013;
Following this verbal dressing down I am delighted to announce that all players behaved themselves admirably during the subsequent Fourth Test Match. Accordingly, I am expecting a cheque in the mail from the Australian Cricket Board this week. Other financial donations from traditional cricket lovers may be lodged online at the usual place: goffixedthebastards.com
Times have changed. Australia no longer values agricultural education and many of it’s colleges and research stations have been closed. I retain fond memories of my alma mater and there remains a strong bond between my classmates to this day.
We share something very special. Australians call it mateship.
The residential college on 6000 acres of land was located 20 miles from the nearest town of Shepparton. As 16 – 22 year-olds most students possessed drivers licences and a few even owned cars. (Indeed the college provided driving lessons and licence testing as part of the curriculum.)
However, possession of any of the following items on campus could result in immediate expulsion.
1. A car 2. Alcohol 3. A girl, having been, or in the throes of being, or even in the vague hope of being, biblically known.
You might think that 200 young men confined in such circumstances would revolt against the system, but the 1960’s in rural Australia were much simpler times. There were no recreational drugs. I was not even aware that such things existed. The only electronic devices were a communal black and white television in the dormitory common room, and our own transistor radios.
There was just one telephone for student’s incoming calls and a couple of public payphones.
Hitchhiking was our primary means of travel, to Shepparton or Benalla on weekends, or longer trips home during holidays.
Dookie College blazer…after 47 years the blazer is in far better condition than the model. Made by “Ashmans of Bendigo, The home of better suits. This garment is the work of skilled hand-craftsman”
The distinctive Dookie College blazer was recognised by motorists throughout Northern Victoria, and although it was a long walk to get to the Midland Highway, once there we were guaranteed rides to almost anywhere in the State.
There were six agricultural colleges in Australia’s eastern States
(Roseworthy, Longerenong, Dookie, Wagga, Hawkesbury and Gatton) separated by a distance of 1500 miles, and an intense rivalry existed between them in two fields of human endeavour;
A. Inter-collegiate sports held annually. B. The pursuit of Marilyn.
I have no idea how these Marilyn shenanigans commenced, but by 1965 they were well established.
When I arrived at Dookie there was a framed print of the famous Marilyn Monroe 1953 Playboy Magazine photograph hanging in the dormitory common room. Junior students were instructed to guard the picture against theft because it had become traditional for other colleges to mount expeditions at unexpected times to steal the picture as a mark of collegiate superiority.
The picture vanished from Dookie soon afterwards and students at Wagga Agricultural College in New South Wales advised that they now had possession. The only rule was that the picture had to be hung in the publicly accessible common room of each college, so a car (illegal expulsion-threatening) load of Dookie boys then drove many hours through the night, stole the picture back, and were rewarded with hero status upon their return. We all once again basked under the warm glow of Marilyn’s magnificence until some other little bastards came and stole it once more.
During my three years at Dookie, Marilyn traveled thousands of miles around Australia in the grasp of some of the finest specimens of young Aussie manhood imaginable.
These were times of simple pleasures, many of which will come to light and be magnified tenfold at our 50th anniversary reunion in 2015.
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Dookie College staff 1965
Dookie College float being prepared for Melbourne’s Moomba Parade circa 1966. ERUDIMUR DUM COLIMUS
Dookie cricketing legends….or NOT, as the case may be.
Give your eyeballs a break and let GOF read it to you;
(click on the little triangle thingy )
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Distinguished WordPress bloggers, Your Highness, Your Excellency, Your Eminence, Madam Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, guide dogs, and Elle MacbloodyPherson and her new gentleman friend;
Thank you for attending the inaugural presentation of our Pain In The Arse Award.
We are gathered here tonight in the The Bucket’s magnificent new beach-themed auditorium which was constructed with the assistance of a ten million dollar higher-education grant from the Australian Government, as well as donations of $1000 from each of my blog subscribers who probably haven’t noticed it’s disappeared from their bank accounts yet.
A very special welcome to my American friends who are with us tonight. Thank you for traveling so far. Although your first reaction to my mentioning the words ‘sport’ and ‘cricket’ might be to wander off for a slurp at the 24-hour bar in the foyer, I urge you to hang around to assist with the hurling of brickbats.
This time-honoured sport will begin shortly.
Besides, someone in Florida needs to share some responsibility for training today’s award winners.
Firstly let me take you back to a time before sportsmen and women were paid huge amounts of money just for playing games.
As young cricketers during the 1960’s there were two very important principles of sport (and life) which were drilled into us relentlessly by coaches and mentors.
1. “The game” is more important than your personal performance.
2. “Sportsmanship”, including respect for opposition players and umpires, was paramount.
Today I lament the passing of “sportsmanship” in many sports, including my own beloved game of cricket.
Too often today, the degree of sportsmanship displayed on the field of play is inversely proportional to the amount of prizemoney on offer.
Let us now turn our attention to tennis. Never in it’s long history have players tarnished the image of the game so consistently and shown such poor sportsmanship as tonight’s award recipients.
These two spoilt little brats have the temerity to demand total silence from spectators yet proceed to launch themselves into spasms of screaming every time they hit the ball.
They claim that the habit has been a natural part of their game since childhood. Pigs arse. Pull the other one. I had a daughter who once upon a time played tennis. Had she started squarking at 100 decibels every time she hit the ball I would have firstly bashed her over the scone with the racquet before carting her off to have the disorder corrected by a psychiatrist.
Screaming is NOT a natural part of tennis you pampered little millionaire darlings. It is a contrivance.
It is YOUR deliberate tactic to distract opponents. Like it or lump it, what you are actually doing is CHEATING. You are defrauding your opponents, and defrauding the public of it’s right to enjoy watching your sport.
The practice should be outlawed immediately by the International Tennis Federation.
The Bucket has no pleasure at all in awarding the Inaugural Pain in The Arse Award to the joint winners;
Tonight we truthfully recognise the contribution which these two players have made to women’s tennis, and acknowledge that both of them are dispensible millstones around the neck of good sportsmanship and decent behaviour;
Ladies and gentlemen, our award winners for 2012,
VICTORIA AZARENKA and MARIA SHARAPOVA
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One short clip of an Australian crowd reacting appropriately to some of Sharapova’s absurd behaviour.
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And finally, in response to a tweet just received from @eavesdropper532 “GOF do you think their childish ear-shattering on-court behaviour today will inevitably be carried forward into the ‘games rooms’ of their adult relationships tomorrow?”
You are a pervert eavesdropper532 ….A PERVERT! and NO I am not interested in paying $7000 for your covert audio recording of “Sharapova’s forty/love climax point in a marathon three-hour French Grand Slam.” GO AWAY you horrible little man.
Old age is that time of life when all the chickens of senseless physiological foolishness we once indulged in come home to roost.
The two things I fear most in life are the loss of eyesight, and the inability to move briskly under my own steam around my world. I work with some diligence to maintain the latter ability.
Greg Chappell in his book about ageing asked the question; "Did you ever see your dad run?" Many of us who grew up in the 1950's never saw our dads break into a canter let alone any heartfelt gallop. For me that is especially poignant because my dad was a gifted harrier (cross-country runner) when he was young.
One of the special memories I have of Globet and Gof's tour of Victoria last year is that we actually ran together on one occasion until we were both completely puffed out. (she was probably pretending) Admittedly it was prompted by being so bloody cold that if we had not run the distance then we may well have perished on the shores of Lake Jubilee.
Someone next day would then have discovered our ice statues and chipped away at them until our mortal remains were discovered. It was however not the first time that the two of us have run together just for the fun of it, and I hope it was not the last.
Now moving on to a totally different subject.
Human movement can be an exquisitely beautiful thing. Ice skating, and some performances on television dance programs have been known to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Then there are gymnasts trailing ribbons in "free expression" floor routines. Cirque du Soleil acrobats. Pole vaulters converting horizontal speed into vertical defiance of gravity. The agility, power and athleticism of tennis players.
I however have one special human movement hero. As a much younger man I would hopelessly try to mimic this West Indian cricketer with his lithe, loping, powerful, graceful accelerating runup before he hurled a cricket ball at 100 miles an hour at some terrified Australian batsman, or in the case of the picture below almost decapitating the captain of an English test team.
Oh, how I loved to watch Michael Holding, the human panther, at work.
(If you detest the game of cricket or don't know what it's about, don't give up, because the following isn't really about cricket. Well it is, but then it isn't really……Oh what the heck….you can work it out for yourself)
Willie Nelson performs a song with the lyrics; "Old age and treachery, Always overcomes youth and skill"
This is a lesson I should have learned much earlier in life than I did. It should have dawned upon me when, as a member of a youthful Agricultural College cricket team, we played an "away" game at rural Lake Rowan, (population 42) in 1967.
There was no "lake" at Rowan that I can remember, for at the time there was drought. It was 100 degrees in the shade at 9 am, and the dead grass was crackling beneath our sandshoed feet. Dead turf was just one of the "home ground advantages" for our opposition which comprised eleven tough weather-beaten wheat farmers who were having a day off from harvesting grain to have fun, and make sporting mincemeat out of us pampered wet-behind-the-ears students. We knew who should win this match, for we were impeccably attired in newly laundered and pressed cricket "whites", compared to their tattered and stained "grays" which had seen twenty or more seasons in the sun.
Their captain was a middle aged mountain of a man whose prowess with a cricket bat had become legendary throughout the Murray and Goulburn Valleys in Northern Victoria. His name was Mr Fob. There is a distinct possibility that this was not his real name, for in the bus on the way up there I overheard one of the boys expressing his opinion that the last part stood for "old bastard". He had automatically acquired the title "Mister" out of respect for both his seniority and size.
Mr Fob took care of all pre-match preparation including fine tuning his home ground advantage. All other cricket pitches in the competition were concrete strips covered with coir matting. Lake Rowan's was made from compressed termite mound. Mr Fob graded it smooth, and swept it free of sheep and kangaroo droppings pre-match, by dragging an old steel tractor wheel up and down it behind his ancient farm truck.
When Mr Fob was batting, the effect of this slow pitch was that no matter how angrily and fast we bowled at him or tried to bounce his head off, the ball would lift very gently off the antbed at bludgeonable height. He would annoyingly either angle his crossbat and sky it back over his head down into the pile of pre World War 1 rusting farm machinery and barbed wire under the gum trees, or swat the docile projectile to the fence with an accompanying "go fetch it boy!"
Now I say "fence", but indeed there was no fence, nor any markings anywhere on the paddock to indicate where one might ever have been. The only fence was the one that existed in Mr Fob's head. When he had determined that "the ball had gone to the fence" for four runs, he would indicate thus to the official scorer, who coincidentally happened to be his son.
The distance between the batter and the "fence" seemed to significantly increase in the afternoon when it was our turn to bat. Probably something to do with expansion of the earth's surface caused by increasing ambient temperature.
We were inevitably thrashed by a huge margin at the hands of a better cricket team, which also had more than a little help from the treachery of old age.
Mr Fob's enviable reputation and notoriety lived on.
Before beginning this story I would firstly like to apologise to my friends in the USA for whom this subject will be a mystery. Perhaps though, I could introduce you to a remarkable young man and sportsman, and also mention something of my lifetime devotion to the game of cricket.
Cricket originated in England 130 years ago as the "gentlemans game". It has always been much more than a "game". It traditionally embodied many desirable human characteristics such as decency, fairness, honesty and respect for others.
The rules and terminologies used in cricket are almost inexplicable to those not raised in a cricketing culture. What other game on earth could be played over 5 consecutive 6-hour days, sometimes at slow pace, maybe ending with no victory to either side, and yet remain relevant in todays fast-paced world? It survives because it is played with a varying range of physicality, nuance, psychology and subtlety, appreciated by millions of devotees primarily in England, Australia, South Africa, India, Pakistan and the West Indies.
For me, I cannot imagine life without cricket. From times as a little boy, in the days before television, listening to live cricket commentaries being transmitted from England in the middle of our night to an old bakelite radio in the living room. Then, as a youth playing the game in 100 degree Aussie summers with my ample enthusiasm adequately offset by a paucity of natural talent.
The international game over the last century has occasionally been tainted by moments of less than honorable sporting behaviour and scandal.
With this in mind, it is a joy to have witnessed the almost 20 year playing career of Indian, Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin recently became the highest aggregate run scorer in the history of test cricket.
Cricketing careers, now encompassing several generations of gifted young men, are conspicuous milestones when I look back over my life, and they provide an acceptable explanation for the time-worn face I occasionally see in my mirror.
I remember Sachins first introduction to us when he was just a teenager at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and the crowd of spectators delighted in humorously counting his first runs in massed voice "one-dulkar", "two-dulkar" all the way up to "ten-dulkar" after which the novelty wore off, and it became increasingly obvious that they were witnessing the emergence of an extraordinarily gifted sporting talent.
Sachin Tendulkar, over 20 years has honored all the original qualities expected in the game of cricket. By default, this also means everything which is good about the human character. He is a role model par excellence, conducting both his on and off-field life with dignity, sincerity, generosity and modesty.
A gentleman, and a gentle man.
He has played the game with technical excellence second only to the incomparable Sir Donald Bradman, and he is the finest ambassador for the game of cricket in the world today.
Sachin Tendulkar, " The Little Master"…..I salute you.