Over the last week or so, I have gone back more than a dozen times to read and re-read the final two paragraphs. I think they are truly perfect:
Watching, say, a Test match: in between overs, the sound of applause, distinct but feint through distance, will drift across the ground. There’s no action for the crowd to respond to and nobody around you is clapping. But some 150 metres away a fielder is jogging or walking away from the square, with hand raised, holding hat or cap, towards a section of the crowd. It’s the bowler whose over has just finished, perhaps having taken a wicket, or completed a spell, but definitely having impressed. And now that bowler is returning to his fielding position close to the boundary, close to a section of the crowd who, independent of allegiance, identify with the bowler and welcome him back.
On the other side of the ground, the noise feels like a reaction to an event already viewed and understood. Or simply an echo delayed by the reach of the ground. At a distance, the harshness of clapping is tempered, not hand smacking hand, but raindrops on a roof, hooves on soft ground; insistent and gentle. Above all it’s the warmth of cricket and its people.
Now is the time to find the balance: getting the big things right, so we can enjoy the beauty of the little things.
It is writing like that that gives me hope for this game. Despite the position paper. Despite everything.
And I love the sentiment expressed in the sentence “…the warmth of cricket and its people.” Being a cricket blogger, I am exposed to said warmth on nearly a daily basis. And I am given hope for the future of cricket every single time.
The paragraphs sum up everything that is great about cricket – and about Test cricket in particular – and reinforces why we all need to act as proper stewards of this grand old game. It has more wonderful traditions than every other sport put together, and those traditions need to be protected.