Tuesday, 1 February 2011

It's not cricket...

I've not written anything for a few days now, mainly because I had nothing really to say. Some who have read these posts in the past may wonder 'so what's changed?' These thoughts tend to come spontaneously - I write what I'm thinking at the time, so they may appear a little disjointed at times, but I think they come from the heart. So, here's my first bit of rambling for February.

Sport is meant to be a great leveller: teams or individuals playing out a contest on equal terms to determine a winner in a spirit of friendly rivalry, despite some obvious animosity and banter on the field of play. The recent Ashes series in Australia was such a contest, with no quarter given on the field, but a friendly drink shared together after the event.

This of course has not always been the case: there are some notable moments of what are deemed to be 'unsportsmanly behaviour' in the history of competitive sports. Maradona's infamous 'hand of God' goal against England in the World Cup is one example. Another happened 30 years ago today, in a Limited Overs International between Australia & New Zealand. 15 runs were needed by New Zealand off the final over, to be bowled by Trevor Chappell. Hadlee hit the first ball for four, but was out LBW off the second. Smith took two runs from the third and fourth deliveries, but was bowled off the fifth. So, with 7 needed from the final ball, McKechnie came to the wicket. Rather than risk bowling a no ball or a wide, Trevor Chappell was instructed by the captain, his brother Greg, to bowl underarm. He subsequently rolled the ball down the wicket, the batsman defended, and the game was lost, much to the frustration and annoyance of McKechnie, who threw his bat away in disgust.

And the game is remembered for that incident, not for the unbeaten century by Bruce Edgar, the non-striker as these events unfolded. Other notable infamous cricket moments include the 'Bodyline' series between England & Australia in 1932-33, where the Australian captain famously declared at one point "There's two teams out there, but only one of them is playing cricket!"

Fair play is traditionally seen as a particularly 'British' trait, and it's easy for us to see unfairness in others: a little harder to see it in ourselves. And sadly we live in a world where fairness doesn't always seem to be at the forefront of people's thinking. Politics and business seem to be governed more often than not by self-interest and a 'devil take the hindmost' philosophy: success and getting your own way seem to be the driving force of much that is done. So if you can get your goods produced for a few pence a day, rather than for a living wage, your natural business brain is going to go that route. You may call it 'out-sourcing', but it's probably still profiteering and exploitation.

It is perfectly possible for the world to be managed and run in a fair and equitable way. There are sufficient resources available to ensure that everyone has enough to live on. But that needs a political will, and a humanitarian will, that will lift the world's poorest out of the gutter and let them contribute to the game of life on a level playing field. Rather that than letting them think they have a chance, and then bowling underarm.