Viewing entries tagged
Cricket

Whispering Death - A Chat With Michael Holding.

Comment

Whispering Death - A Chat With Michael Holding.

For those of us who grew up enthralled by the exploits of West Indian cricket's golden generation in the 70's and 80's, Michael Holding is a god in cricket creams.  

 

 

image.jpg

The man all batsman know as "Whispering Death" exuded a terrifying elegance that has never been witnessed since.

He's in Australia for the ICC Cricket World Cup as a commentator.

I spoke with him today.

You can listen to the interview here

Comment

Comment

Vale Phillip Hughes

Phillip Hughes story was not meant to end here.

Not at this place. Not in this way.

Phillip Hughes 30/11/88 - 27/11/14

Phillip Hughes 30/11/88 - 27/11/14

 

Not playing the game he loved with a vitality and exuberance that spoke of all the very best things cricket has to offer.

It has left a nation bereft, wondering how someone so young and talented could perish whilst playing the game most Australians see as a sanctuary from the worries of the world.

Yet the unimaginable is true. The unspeakable real.

Phillip Hughes played cricket like most young Australians would like to imagine they could. 

Fearless and enterprising, he hit the ball hard and could bend the very best bowling to his will with scything shots either side of the wicket.

As a very young man Hughes was piling up runs in Sheffield Shield cricket and winning Shield finals off his own bat with huge scores in the biggest game on the calendar.

In 2009 he peeled off consecutive centuries in just his 2nd Test Match against South Africa in Durban. It was some of the most thrilling cricket in recent memory.

 At age 20 he became the youngest player to achieve this feat and the comparisons were heady. 

Bradman was mentioned. 

In this age of sensation such accolades were ludicrous and burdensome. 

Modern cricket is a forensic science and soon enough flaws were spotted and plans were hatched and executed. 

New Zealand bowler Chris Martin pitched up with unerring accuracy, tormenting Phillip Hughes as he provided a surfeit of snicks to the slips.   

England came and baited the hook outside off stump. Suddenly the withering cut shot and drive through the covers that was Hughes weapons of choice became his kryptonite.

The young god had feet of clay.

Dropped from the Test team he was derided by some for a lack of technique and questioned about his temperament and courage. 

Lesser young men may have let the game they loved so dearly break their hearts.

Not Phillip Hughes.

Dropped 3 times from the Test team he simply went back to work. 

Those of us lucky enough to interview him discovered a young man of enormous grace and good will. No matter what the circumstance there was always an opportunity to improve, another innings to look forward to, more runs to make.

A chance for a better tomorrow.

As he stood at the crease on Tuesday that tomorrow looked like it may have arrived. 63 not out and rollicking along in typical fashion, Hughes looked set for another Test recall as his great friend, Australian Captain Michael Clarke, struggled with a hamstring problem.

Cruelly, inexplicably, it wasn't to be.

His death has triggered something instinctive and profound amongst Australians.

For generations, Australian sports fans have liked to think their cricket team represents the characteristics of their better selves.

Bold, talented, brash and ruthless in pursuit of success, and once upon a time, graceful in defeat.

Through Phillip Hughes we may have seen another side of ourselves. 

The part of us we'd like to believe could win the day when it mattered most. 

A belief that we might try and try again even knowing the world was all too painfully aware of our short comings, that we would do so with a spirit of humility and humor.

Knowing that we have so much more to give.

That Phillip Hughes will no longer is a hurt too acute to contemplate.

Comment

Comment

Sport's greatest contest - the fight for its soul.

Critical condition... Armstrong helped put  our faith in sport on life support.
Critical condition... Armstrong helped put  our faith in sport on life support.

There is an epic contest happening in the world of sport right now.

It's a battle for the soul of sport itself.

And the cheats are winning.

Last week's revelations by New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent that he'd been involved in spot and match fixing of cricket games across the globe put a name and a face to a virus that has been slowly killing the games we love.

Cricket has Vincent, Cronje, Azharuddin, Asif and god knows how many other rats in its ranks.

Cycling has Armstrong, O'Grady, Contador, Vinokourov and a veritable peloton of parasites who've blackened it's name.

The AFL has Essendon and the NRL the Cronulla Sharks where the prevailing philosophy seemed to be "whatever it takes and take whatever" to make it.

Football has FIFA. 

The governing body of the world's most popular game is so tainted by the stench of corruption and self interest it conducts it's dirty business in public, awarding The World Cup to Qatar and offering a pathetic apology years later.

This cheat sheet could go on and on, such is the erosion of values in contemporary sport. 

Many of us have comforted ourselves with the belief that a few bad apples couldn't spoil the entire orchard. It's getting harder and harder to keep faith with that.

Vincent's admissions implicated many others. Cricket's nest has been polluted by so many who've been prepared to sell it out, the game itself is diseased and discredited.

Who can seriously look at an Indian Premier League contest, a Big Bash game or any of the countless One Day Internationals around the world and not suspect that the only thing being played are the fans?

So many fabricated franchises, playing in meaningless games in pop-up leagues has left the game an empty vessel.

Cricket increasingly looks little more than a rat running inside a reel, spinning the wheels of the gargantuan gaming industry, legal and otherwise.

If we're honest about it, cheating and spot fixing are merely an extension of the larger game itself.

It calls to mind Omar's testimony against Bird in season 2 of The Wire.

When confronted by his gang rival's expensive lawyer who labels him a parasite he calls him out.

" I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. it's all in the game though, right?".

And so it is.

The integrity of sport - the importance we all places on a clean, fair contest conducted in a spirit of mutual respect - has been drowning in the rivers of gold that sport has delivered as it's become bigger, richer and omnipotent. 

Sport is literally killing itself with its own success.

Whether it can be saved from itself is the question.

  

Comment

1 Comment

Sport's greatest contest - the fight for it's soul.

Critical condition... Armstrong helped put  our faith in sport on life support.
Critical condition... Armstrong helped put  our faith in sport on life support.

There is an epic content happening in the world of sport right now.

It's a battle for the soul of sport itself.

And the cheats are winning.

Last week's revelations by New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent that he'd been involved in spot and match fixing of cricket games across the globe put a name and a face to a virus that has been slowly killing the games we love.

Cricket has Vincent, Cronje, Azharuddin, Asif and god knows how many other rats in its ranks.

Cycling has Armstrong, O'Grady, Contador, Vinokourov and a veritable peloton of parasites who've blackened it's name.

The AFL has Essendon and the NRL the Cronulla Sharks where the prevailing philosophy seemed to be "whatever it takes and take whatever" to make it.

Football has FIFA. 

The governing body of the world's most popular game is so tainted by the stench of corruption and self interest it conducts it's dirty business in public, awarding The World Cup to Qatar and offering a pathetic apology years later.

This cheat sheet could go on and on, such is the erosion of values in contemporary sport. 

Many of us have comforted ourselves with the belief that a few bad apples couldn't spoil the entire orchard. It's getting harder and harder to keep faith with that.

Vincent's admissions implicated many others. Cricket's nest has been polluted by so many who've been prepared to sell it out, the game itself is diseased and discredited.

Who can seriously look at an Indian Premier League contest, a Big Bash game or any of the countless One Day Internationals around the world and not suspect that the only thing being played are the fans?

So many fabricated franchises, playing in meaningless games in pop-up leagues has left the game an empty vessel.

Cricket increasingly looks little more than a rat running inside a reel, spinning the wheels of the gargantuan gaming industry, legal and otherwise.

If we're honest about it, cheating and spot fixing are merely an extension of the larger game itself.

It calls to mind Omar's testimony against Bird in season 2 of The Wire.

When confronted by his gang rival's expensive lawyer who labels him a parasite ,he calls him out.

" I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. it's all in the game though, right?".

And so it is.

The integrity of sport - the importance we all places on a clean, fair contest conducted in a spirit of mutual respect - has been drowning in the rivers of gold that sport has delivered as it's become bigger, richer and omnipotent. 

Sport is literally killing itself with its own success.

Whether it can be saved from itself is the question.

  

1 Comment