Mumbai v Tamil Nadu at Mumbai, Ranji Trophy Elite

I have been compiling a list of topics for posts.  Each time one comes to me, I put it in a Google task list.  And tonight I had planned to simply pull out one of those topics, bang it out for 800 words, and call it a night.

But none of those topics really seemed to be hitting home with me.

Earlier tonight, I had finished Dave Eggers’ wonderful piece of non-fiction-fiction: What is the What.

For those unaware, it is the story of Valentino Deng, a Sudanese refugee, as told by Mr. Eggers.  It follows him from his youth in Sudan during the 22 year long Sudanese civil war: from his once peaceful village in South Sudan, to a refugee camp in Ethiopia, to another refugee camp in Kenya, and finally to America.

It is a heartbreaking story.  Full of death, and tragedy.  It describes what is like to have one’s entire known world destroyed – to actually experience Apocalypse.

But it is also uplifting, and inspirational: Humans are remarkable creatures.

I highly recommend it.

So, tonight, when I sat at my computer in my comfortable home in a comfortable city, having known the blessing of America my entire life, I found it all of a sudden very difficult to write a preview of Pakistan v England, or a post about Indian domestic leagues, or what have you.

And then I started to think about Africa, and its relation to cricket.

Two test playing nations are, of course, African, as is a third with full ODI status.

Now, of course, Africa is a large continent, and putting South Africa on par with Sudan or any war torn east Africa nation would be ignorant.

But South Africa has seen its troubles, of which we are all aware, and while Kenya has been largely peaceful, Zimbabwe suffered through decades of deadly uprisings following its independence.

And then I look to the other test nations, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka – countries that have suffered more than I could possibly imagine, and the tribulations are far more than I could even begin to write about on my silly little cricket blog.

The Sri Lankan Civil War, just as an example, lasted for 25 years.

25 years.

And then I look again to the nations with ODI status, and I see the country of Afghanistan – a country that has not seen peace in a dozen generations.

After all of that, I force myself to think about the sport of cricket again, and how it is a thread that binds all of these nations.

Zimbabwe, in March, will visit the modern nation of New Zealand – a country that recently hosted the Rugby World Cup, a country that is 79 spots ahead of them on a list of all countries sorted by GDP – and while there, they will gather on a field in the city of Napier…and they will play a test match.

I don’t know why, but I take comfort in that.

Sport, rightfully so, gets put down at times by certain members of society.  They will say it is a waste of time, of resources.  That grown men that leap for joy when their team wins are silly men, are uneducated men, are ignorant men.

But I claim the opposite.  I believe that sport is extraordinarily important to our global society – it is a common language, a shared experience.  And this is even more true for global sports such as football and cricket.

And while the men and women who weep when their team loses might be looked down upon by their peers, I commend them for allowing themselves to be swept up in a shared experience, to allow themselves to see what a black and white world would look like, instead of all the shades of gray we all see everyday.

Sport will not fix Africa, but it can aid in its repair, give the citizens of war torn countries something maybe to believe in, to be proud of – and for a short while, it may also allow its citizenry to see the line between good and evil clearly defined, instead of all muddied as it usually is.

Reading back over this, I realize it doesn’t make a great deal of sense, and I fear that I come off a bit of an asshole, but hopefully my point is clear: cricket is one thread that binds us all together, and for that reason, we should all cherish it, and see that it is well cared for, and healthy, and that it continues to grow, to bind others together.

Until next time.

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