“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!”