27 Nov The Spirit of Cricket and Phil Hughes
The Spirit of Cricket is alive and well but not in a preamble to the Laws…
There’s little I could write to convey the tragic loss felt by Phil Hughes’ family and friends after the devastating news of his passing. This type of tragedy is thankfully rare in Cricket, but its impact is no less crushing as the Cricket community unites to support those closest to Phil.
For me to write anything about Phil Hughes the Cricketer would be glib, I didn’t see him play. To write about Phil Hughes the Man would feel insincere, I never met him. Yet his death has provoked me to write this article that isn’t about him, but indirectly for him.
The Spirit of Cricket is ever present yet is forced into practise by no laws of the game. It’s something ethereal that seems to be quoted or referenced only when the unwritten tenets of Cricket are broken, and if you play Cricket you probably know they are broken. I am talking about the way in which we conduct ourselves both on and off the field. Our own implementation of those beliefs and expectations we have for the behaviour of ourselves and those around us, both teammates and opposition.
I feel that sometimes people lose sight of how lucky they are to play Cricket. How lucky they are to be able to see, run, hear, discuss and enjoy a sport at a level that they can positively influence. It’s not your right, it’s a privilege.
I write this knowing I am not innocent, but admitting that in the distant past I have behaved as if I had two sets of rules to which I could live by. Perhaps age or personal loss has brought about change that made me realise it’s just a game. It doesn’t matter. I’m a Good Winner, and a Poor Loser. Like anyone I can get frustrated when I or the team does badly. However when the dust settles and tomorrow dawns, it’s not whether I won or lost that matters but how much fun I had playing a game with friends.
I’ve often remarked that I could take or leave playing Cricket, and that I only played for the social aspect. I don’t think this has changed or ever will as I know it’s just a game. One that I’m lucky to play and if the smile on my face depends on the success of my Cricket then I’m in trouble, because I’m not that good at it. If your enjoyment of a game is reliant upon the failure of others and the success of yourself then you’ve probably lost sight of what’s really important.
I don’t wish to deny anyone’s desire to win or be successful but the pursuit for success doesn’t exonerate you from poor behaviour.
The ends DO NOT justify the means.
There is no moral high ground in victory.
We come back to Phil. Someone who has lost their life playing a game we love, hopefully played with people and for a club we love. Whilst I don’t always like playing Cricket, it and my teammates afford me the luxury of being able to have fun playing a game. The Spirit of Cricket isn’t or shouldn’t be about implementing the Laws of Cricket, as that should be a given. The Spirit of Cricket has been so beautifully illustrated in the outpouring of emotion and support for Phil and his family. The Spirit of Cricket represents far more than the laws, traditions or etiquettes, for it should be about remembering that the standard, where or who we play for doesn’t matter, Victory or Defeat becomes inconsequential in time and that whether we appreciate it or not…
We are lucky to play Cricket, so enjoy it.
RIP Phillip Hughes