A Spirit of Cricket Carol

Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort, who plume themselves on being acquainted with a move or two, and being usually equal to the time-of-day, express the wide range of their capacity for adventure by observing that they are good for anything from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter; between which opposite extremes, no doubt, there lies a tolerably wide and comprehensive range of subjects.
- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

It was a hot, fierce, parched day. The kind of day upon which I wanted no part of vexatious others. I was an old man. But then, I still felt that there was much to be done. I had laboured these many years to build my eminent name. Many knew me. My name, Aussiepom Scrooge, was known throughout the district. Some ten years had elapsed since the sudden passing of my business partner, Batmans Word. Yet, I had employed others. I had employed Impartial Commentator and Hot Spot. I had employed DRS, had I not?

It was hot. The air had felt like the inside a blast furnace. I knew the Spirit of Cricket to be an over-cooked rooster of a notion for romantics and soft-headed fools. No, no one would be getting this Spirit of Cricket Day off. Not Hot Spot, not Impartial Commentator, none of them.

I made my way home on Spirit of Cricket Eve, whereupon I opened up all the windows to catch any hint of a breeze. Shortly after entering a fitful slumber, I was shocked to be awoken by a none other than a ghost. It was the ghost of Batsmans Word; my former business partner. He declared himself to be forever cursed to wander the earth broadcasting a phalanx of ill-considered tweets, composed metaphorically by a lifetime of greed and selfishness.

Word’s face had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. How much greater was my horror when the phantom, taking off the bandage round its head, as if it were too warm to wear indoors, its lower jaw dropped upon its breast. Word warned me to change my ways lest I suffer the same fate. I barely knew what to think, when I was visited upon by another ghost.

This ghoul, the Ghost of Spirits of Cricket Past, took me to cricket scenes of my innocent boyhood and youth.  Scenes where cricket was played as it should be played. The cricket gave tremendous enjoyment both to those who played and to those who watched. Players enjoyed the complete absence of fuss about rules and regulations. The game was played by people who were only concerned with playing the game according to the principles of the game. Yet the ghost took me also to hot-tempered places and times, including Adelaide 1932, Perth 1975 and The Oval and Brisbane, 2013. This bewitching juxtaposition of events caused me considerable consternation. I could see the Spirit undoubtedly leave when I appeared to care more for winning than for her.

No sooner had that ghost disappeared, than I was greeted by the Ghost of Spirits of Cricket Present. This ghost took me to several scenes – a joyful carnival of people playing suburban cricket, celebrations of selection in an under age representative side, scenes faraway from international spotlights. The ghost then took me to Impartial Commentator’s s family feast, and introduced his youngest son, Good Will, who was full of simple happiness despite being seriously ill. The ghost informed me that Good Will would soon die unless the course of events changed.

Quite wide awake now, and not a little troubled, I was relatively unsurprised to welcome yet another spirit into my bedroom; the Ghost of Spirits of Cricket to Come, who showed me cricket one year later. Good Will had died because Impartial Commentator could not afford to provide the boy with proper care on his meager salary. This was shocking enough. I was unprepared, however, for the ghost to then lead me to a funeral. He told me that the funeral was for a “wretched man.” And he showed me the man’s neglected grave; the tombstone bore the name Ebenezer Aussiepom. Sobbing, I pledged then and there to change my ways in the hope that I may sponge the writing from that stone.

And so I awoke on Christmas morning with a new song and a soaring love in my heart. I spent the day with Hot Spot’s family, sent a prize duck to the Commentator home for Christmas dinner and gave Impartial Commentator a raise. I gathered around the village green and enjoyed the game for the game’s sake. This was the fabled Spirit of Cricket. This game that is bigger than any one of us.

I can attest to being a thoroughly changed man. I, Ebenezer Aussiepom, now treat everyone with kindness, generosity, and compassion; I now embody the spirit of cricket. As I turned to leave the Commentator home, young Good Will, beaming, declared: “Games and their Spirit bless us, everyone!”

About David Wilson

A wee bit perplexed with the unfolding direction of all this, yet fathering the two & expectantly awaiting the impossible.

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    While I understand the thoughts and meaning behind this v well written article, E . Regnans aka opening partner I reckon we are going overboard re the spirit of cricket thoughts , it takes two to tango ! A lot of what has occured is payback time , Anderson,
    The great deserter , Swan , the ego maniac , Pieterson are hardly florence nightingdale .The. stakes are so much higher than in suburban cricket and you don’t play the same opponent for animosities to linger and grow also having known ,
    Darren Lehmann for a long time he cares about the spirit and well being of the game

  2. Yep, rulebook, I think you’re right.
    There’s been a lot of excited commentary about this recently.
    Writing this little story has reminded me of the difference between amateur and professional games.
    Basic human self-interest will often clash with a mythical spirit of fair play.
    If my income depended on it, then I guess I would scrap and fight for anything I could get.
    That behaviour, regrettably, can become the standard that young park cricketers seek to emulate.

    I played last Saturday. First game in 9 years. It was brilliant precisely because I had No expectations and played for the enjoyment. Half the team were oldies, the other half were around 13 years old. Winning and losing were not the endgame. Guidance and enjoyment were.
    Thanks rulebook.

  3. Ebenezer Aussiepom?
    Whoops – that name on the tombstone should have read “Aussiepom Scrooge”.
    Ahh well…

  4. G’day again rulebook,
    Re-reading your post, I reckon this “takes two to tango” line is inconsequential.
    If someone picks a fight with you, I suggest that the noble and upstanding response is a dignified silence.
    This recent “spirit of cricket” frenzy has focussed on behaviours of individuals that run counter to the interests of the game. No individual is bigger than the game.
    Yet it IS up to individuals to imagine a better world.
    (No negative sledging, maintaining positive messages of support for your teammates, etc.)
    And then to enact it.
    “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”
    It’s a little metaphor for life.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    I agree with you re suburban cricket I made what for me was a major decision to change clubs from coaching at , Payneham where I had been for , 30 odd years and am a life member as its values had altered re paying players and other things and I realized I had to be true to myself and am glad I went to , Pembroke
    International cricket there is so much more at stake I am glad , Clarke stood up to ,
    Anderson and has been a vital moment in gaining respect from his team mates personal relationships has been , Clarkes huge weakness from Boofs appointment onwards I think he has almost been a life coach for , Clarke. Give me a non compromising altra competitive , Aust side any day than the meek mild pathetic rubbish we have endured for too long

  6. Luke Reynolds says:

    Really enjoyed this e.regnans, A Christmas Carol is a great story and you’ve done a great adaption with Aussiepom Scrooge. Even better to read in your comment that you played your first game in 9 years! Keep it up.

  7. Cheers, Luke.
    Couldn’t raise my arms above shoulder height until the Tuesday.
    Old fashioned purple-rings-of-Saturn-thigh-bruise now yellowing well.
    Ahh, the memories.

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