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Cricket- Is it more than a game?

Beach
Cricket- Is it more than a game?

In this day and age, there are many strange and unusual ways to make a living.

Some people are paid to play computer games for a living. A chore I’m sure for avid gamers, where do I apply?

Some are mystery diners, paid (or at least fed) to write reviews on national restaurant chains.

Others smell odours, good and bad, in the quest for a superior deodorant.

Then there are the professional sportsmen and women, who are paid to perform, while members of the public pay, in some capacity, to watch their athletic prowess. (There are notably more men than women unfortunately, a sour point in my household with my sisters cricketing talent, and my partner being a radical feminist!)

Due to the success of the Twenty20, some cricketers are now earning salaries comparable to footballers and baseball players. The unfortunate reality of professional sport is that it still can become a chore, much like other professions. Don’t get me wrong, it is an amazing way to earn a living, but it can become hard work, much like a travelling salesmen I’d imagine, living out of a suitcase day in- day out.

For domestic cricketers in New Zealand personal sacrifices are a given. I have not had a New Years Eve since I was 15, where my location was not dictated to me by where I was playing cricket either the day before, or the day after, New Years Day. For the last 5 years I’ve had training of some description on January 1st, after Christmas had consisted of 3 days (if I’m lucky) at home with family before flying out Boxing day to play. The joys of playing a summer sport in the southern hemisphere!

There are some good times I’ll admit. The photo attached is from one of the few afternoons we had off this summer and the lads went and chilled out at the beach in Whangarei. Opportunities like that are rare and it feels like such a novelty to be doing what most Kiwis do all summer long.

Loved ones are either left behind over the holiday period, or their destination of ‘choice’ is determined in August by the New Zealand Cricket Operations Manager, when they draft the playing schedules for the season.

It is very tough on families, particularly those with children, having partners away for long periods. In March just gone, for example, the Hamilton based Northern Knights (the majority of the team), were not scheduled to have one night at home in the whole month with ‘home’ games in Whangarei, and two away games. That’s four weeks on the road, just playing domestic first class cricket.

For those families affected, cricket is much more than a game. It is a way of life, accepted and acknowledged, as time consuming and demanding.

Another group from the cricketing fraternity who may feel it is no longer just a game may be the Sri Lankan Cricket team and all those involved in the recent terrorist attack around them. Many journalists wrote that cricket lost its innocence that day and I would tend to agree. Politics and match fixing have tainted periods of crickets past, but neither really threatened players’ lives. Who would have thought the honour of being selected for your country would come with such a price.

It is a strange paradox to be celebrating, on one hand, the rise in crickets profile internationally and the effect on players marketability; while warning, on the other hand, of the risks related to being so recognisable and possibly targeted by groups seeking media attention.

However, that is the world we live in now and while we hope cricket can be a vehicle to bring countries together, battling only on the sports field, we must accept that security checks and risk assessment reports are part of touring, for now at least.

Such considerations make a month on the road in little old New Zealand seem not so bad after all, and a day at the beach, a privilege.

It makes me appreciate the sunshine, when I see it in Bath, and think to myself, there could be worse ways to make a living… like testing deodorants.

My Zimbio
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Comments

Thoughtful article, Peter – unfortunately sport and politics can no longer be separated. And most Englishmen tend to appreciate the sunshine on those few occasions it shows up!

Comment by Dave Wilson | 12:00am BST 16 May 2009

Hi Peter, thanks for your continued articles – hope things are looking up for the T20 WC, nice work in the warmups.

Comment by Joseph | 12:00am BST 31 May 2009

An insightful article, Peter, and thanks for writing for Cricket Web.

To us followers, playing cricket professionally is the dream – earning money for doing something you love in endless sunshine with other people paying to watch you do so.

Of course, in that, the fact that money can’t buy happiness is forgotten. There is no compensation for the emotional work you have to put in and that is one of the reasons I think the overcrowded calendar needs addressing.

Comment by Lee | 12:00am BST 31 May 2009

Nice personal performance in todays game against the Aussies, shame about the result but. Hope to hear some thoughts from you soon.

Comment by Marie | 12:00am BST 2 June 2009

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