by Phil Knight.
So, Tondulkar has finally climbed his invented Everest and Ponting still refuses to come down from the mountain top.
For cricket followers the contrasting fortunes of the two great men has made fascinating reading over the last 12 months. The different way both players have been reviled and redeemed, by their respective media and countrymen, seems to say so much about the cricketing systems, and even the cultures, of their two countries.
Ponting seemed to be living on and in borrowed time and pads. Respected pundits, such as Ian Chappell Ponting must go called for his head - all in the name of nobody is bigger than the game, mate. Yet, Tendulkar, whose quest for 100 centuries seemed to overshadow EVERYTHING happening in Indian cricket India lose 8, was never questioned and (let’s face it) will never be questioned. In all fairness to the little master, he was batting more effectively than Punter and he has always been a much easier man to admire than his gum chewing, pretend scowling counterpart. I mean, who didn’t cheer in 2005 when the blood trickled down the Aussie captain’s face at the onset of the Ashes? Bloody Ponting And, who didn’t boo when he screamed ‘blue murder’ about fielding replacements or some other desperate sounding conspiracy theory?
Australia prides itself on being the tough guys of world cricket. India prides itself on being the skillful gentlemen. This careful stereotyping harks back to another time when drunken convicts turned a desert into the lucky country. When upper class twits ruled the teeming masses of the sub continent - drinking gin and tonics and quoting Kipling. “What do they know of England who only England know?” Or as C.L.R James put it - “What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” Australia will cut down its heroes and claim this is what has made them the greatest of all cricketing nations. India will let its little princes choose when it is time to abdicate and that this is what makes them the most admirable of all cricketing nations.
And, I guess, this is one more thing that makes cricket such an endlessly fascinating pastime. Cricket is an education. Cricket is a way to understand other people who live far, far away. Cricket is a passport to other worlds filled with elephants and kangaroos, dreadlocks and pubs, diamonds and rugby grounds. Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe - most of the bloody world, mate.
However, does cricket really give an accurate depiction of who we are as people? I follow the Black Caps(that name still makes me cringe) and I know my people are not mentally weak individualists who are likely to capitulate at the mere sight of a red coloured cricket ball. I only need to look at the All Blacks(that name still makes me puff with Ponting pride) to support my theory that cricket leads us to misunderstand other people. I have haunted the boards of cricinfo, like other cricketing bores, scouring and Ponting scowling at the endless arguing amongst the melting pot of cricketing fans. I myself was clean bowled by a quick(er than Steyn) tempered South African, when I dared to suggest his country had a fantastic cricketing team that my country could never hope to defeat. My apparent arrogance needed to be exposed, as a rich country(???) like New Zealand should always economically overwhelm a poverty stricken nation like South Africa(????).
Anyway, it becomes quickly obvious that too often we let cricketing teams and, more dangerously, mere cricketers speak for an entire nation. And, I will speak for them even though I am not one of them, they don’t. I have seen enough of the world and enough cricket to know that every boy in Trinidad is not a fast bowler and thousands of Aussie kids in the outback are not hitting a golf ball against a water tank. For me, stereotypes in cricket should not be perpetuated because I love the game due to the infinite number of possibilities it offers. New Zealand can beat Australia in Hobart. Ponting can score a double century to save his career. Tendulkar will eventually find his 100th ton, but it will be against Bangladesh in a losing cause. Cool.
Let’s not assume we understand the world or our great game. Let us just watch. And enjoy. And accept. Each other. And accept a sport that gives infinite and endless joy for cricketing fans, who see past the puffed up posts and misunderstood gestures, and appreciate a game that is played in eternal bright sunlight in the shade of never ending mountains.
- coverdrivecricket posted this