FROM the age of eight we are taught to respect and honour one simple fact about sport – that the game is bigger than any one person.
This week that truism was shattered, damaged irreparably by a callous few swayed more by the current emotional climate than by their love of and responsibility to the game.
Now before you jump up and down about my insensitivity, let me just say that I play and love the sport of cricket.
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Let me say also that I have been bounced in the head and have in turn bounced opposing batsmen.
No one would dispute that what happened to Phil Hughes last week was sad to many, tragic to those closest to him and miserably unique in the history of Australian cricket.
But make absolutely no mistake, this Saturday afternoon right across Australia thousands of teenagers and adults will still be in the field bedecked in their whites yelling ‘taking his head off’ to their fast bowler as he steams in.
Very very few fast bowlers enjoy hurting batsmen – but vast majority of them enjoy trying.
Ask any cricketer from Allan Border to your mate who plays fifth grade on a Sunday, the prospect of dishing out and enduring physical pain is not just part of cricket, it is a large part of why the game is played and loved.
The same goes for many sports.
We all measure sadness and tragedy differently according to our own set of personal values, and there is no doubt that whatever your spectrum, what happened to Hughes will range from sad to unbearably tragic depending on a range of factors.
…but I just can’t help but be a little bit cynical of Cricket Australia’s decision to completely reshuffle the summer Tests because of it.
Who really wins by postponing the match?
This morning we should have seen a short and fitting tribute to Hughesy before the Gabba Test started– instead we are now faced with another week of waiting, watching as the media (both traditional and social) rub their collective hands together maniacally, turning a family’s loss, a team’s pain and a nation’s empathy into a macabre allegory.
Had the Test not been moved, it is true that some players may have (completely understandably) taken the Test off to grieve for a lost mate.
But perhaps some others may have funnelled their shock and pain into gritty determination, heroically raising the bat to the assembled crowd in recognition of a ton notched up for mate and for country.
We will now never know.
Because the show did not go on.
…and that is just not cricket.
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