The other night while the kids were eating dinner in front of the 6pm news, the item about Cairns and Vincent was front and centre.
My partner’s son has finished his first year of cricket. He was very good and got selected to play reps. He’s 10. He spent a lot of summer talking about cricket, players; his idol Brendan McCullum had an incredible season with his 300 run performance.
While watching the news, he discovered that the sport is rife with corruption, beyond just international level. That there are players, talented players, who choose to accept money to go around the rules of sport and cheat for personal financial gain.
He couldn’t believe it.
One of the first questions he asked was: “So how do we know which games that we watch are being fixed?”
I guess that a sport like cricket attracts levels of ego and that make it differ from rugby, for example.
Cricket, although a team sport, is about individual flair, personal statistics and star performances. Players are out at the crease for longer and their form undergoes a different kind of scrutiny. Commentary is drawn out, players are analysed in greater depth.
In my opinion, rugby is more ‘honest’. I intensely dislike rugby, but the three games I have watched are incredibly physical and quick and I cannot see how a person could score tries other than being just plain talented. An entire team would need to be in on any matching fixing – an extremely unlikely scenario, unless I am more clueless than I thought.
No so with cricket. I love cricket but I can see how it attracts the personality of the lie. The precious personality. The entitled personality.
Cricket is a rich man’s sport. To get a child through a season of club cricket, you’ll need around $700 a season and 6-7 hours a week for practices and games. If they make reps, add on another 4 hours to that. They’ll want to go to the nets, attend batting and bowling clinics attracting extra fees. All up, you could be looking at $1,000 or upwards per season to keep your little player ‘happy’.
It is this preciousness I believe that attracts the entitled. I’m not saying it’s not worth it: it is. What I am saying is, once little Tarquin in suited up in his Grey Nicholls gear, Tarquin believes he is instantly special. Perhaps even ‘above.’
What do you need for rugby? A pair of shoes, a ball and some raw talent. Any kid who can run with a ball, rich or poor, can play rugby in this country.
I don’t feel sorry for any of the players caught up in the scandal. There are hundreds of young boys and girls who would kill to be on our national teams – to play honestly.
Elitism aside , it’s one of our great national games. In the summer we watch New Zealand play tests. In the winter we watch ruby.
I’m starting to rethink my aversion to rugby. At least, I know what I am watching.