Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cricketing relationships

by Ben Roberts

I may be going to sound like Oprah or Doctor Phil, but there is clearly a deep emotional need for success in all cricketers. They cannot subsist on footwork and line and length alone, and the absence of beneficial outside relationships is quite possibly catastrophic.

Take for example the beginning of the Australian summer and the very public spat between always-fiery teammates Simon Katich and Michael Clarke. Their descent into the relationship abyss came at the lowest point of the entire Australian cricket family for years, and no one would have then believed Clarke would be the captain to lead Australia to such a rapid turn in fortunes.

But things did turn around and success has come to Clarke's Australia; along the way, Clarke has related well to all comers, in particular Clarke and Ricky Ponting have in January 2012 picked up their very productive affair, missing since they last truly connected two years prior.

Ed Cowan, (c) Balanced Sports
Not only that, but this summer the new Australian selection panel (a long-established matchmaking institution) have been rather bolshie in taking plenty o’ gambles. In Melbourne they sent absolute opposites Ed Cowan and Dave Warner on a blind date (after Warner's early summer fling with Phillip Hughes clearly was a very one sided relationship) and the two openers have not looked back. Cowan in fact has spent most of the summer gazing at Warner lest he be struck by a missile from his blade!

All this is not to mention the bond that has occurred within the Skippy fast bowlers. Although Peter, Ben, Ryan, James and Mitchell know that they all cannot be included in the same team all of the time, they clearly feel and care for each other the way they have shared the Indian scalps around.

This relational need in cricket has seemingly gotten the attention of more than just the cricketing authorities.  This article link was passed over to me recently.  The tongue-in-cheek piece may require both a working knowledge of cricket and the Book of Genesis to fully appreciate the humour, however we can add it as evidence that maybe even a divine relationship is key for cricketing success.

The author Michael Jensen lists many of faith who have graced cricketing fields. Two stuck out on my mind for the era in which they played: England's Reverend David Sheppard was an ordained minister during his international playing days and later Bishop of Liverpool.  Australia's Brian Booth was an Anglican lay-preacher. Although previously aware of their non-cricketing backgrounds, when presented with them again reading this article, my first reaction was to exclaim to myself (and Zoe the dog) about the wilder types whom they shared dressing rooms.

Respectively, Sheppard and Booth teamed with Fred Trueman and Keith Miller, whom would hardly be described as shrinking violets. I wondered just how it went? Was there precedent for the Clarke/Katich troubles? Of course my first reference point is the modern day font of wisdom Wikipedia. Looking up both Booth and Sheppard, lo and behold both have their relationships with Trueman and Miller described, including that they were full of humour.

Now I am not proposing if looking for a life partner you give up the blind dates, internet chat rooms and bar crawling and head down to your local cricket club. Such a move may not go as well in practice as in theory, but on those days when it is 42 degrees, you're in the field defending 47, and the opposition is 0/278, look across to your mate at first slip/mid wicket/cover and realise that you may be sharing more than just the old thigh pad in the team kit!

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