Cricket’s Legacy

Sometimes you read something and you remember why started doing this all in the first place.

North of Colombo there is a town called Chilaw. There is an ancient Hindu temple in Chilaw that was once visited by Gandhi. Every year they have the Munneswaram festival. It was once famous for pearls. And they have a first-class cricket team: the Chilaw Marians Cricket Club.

Shaminda Eranga comes from Chilaw.

Like many in Sri Lanka, the cricketers from Chilaw are largely invisible inside the system. There are Test-quality cricketers playing on the streets of the Hikkaduwa right now that will never play with a hard cricket ball in their life.

Eranga was not playing first-class cricket. He was not in the system. He shouldn’t have made it at all. But like his seam-bowling partner Nuwan Pradeep, he made his way to a fast-bowling competition. He bowled fast. But five guys bowled faster. Somehow the sixth-fastest bowler in that completion was picked for Chilaw Marians Cricket Club. Five years later he would clean bowl Brad Haddin with his second ball in international cricket.

Eranga is the closest thing Chilaw has produced to a pearl in a very long time.

-Jarrod Kimber, via Cricinfo

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Cricket is a bat and ball sport existing on the fringes of everything. But it inspires the best sportswriting on earth. Period. And Jarrod is one of the best. He writes about cricket the way cricket is supposed to be played: with abandon, freedom and caution. He swashbuckles like a West Indian seamer, yet he can also block like an English nightwatchman.

I find pieces like Jarrod’s inspiring – they remind me that cricket is a game that deserves respect from those that are lucky enough to write about it. It’s a marvelous game filled with escape tunnels and villains and turncoats and heroes riding into battle. It’s poetry and it’s madness. It has characters that no fiction writer could possibly imagine given a thousand years. And when we write about it, we need to give it its due.

Our work can’t be phoned in. Cricket deserves better than that. For the game’s legacy is determined not in the actions of the players on the field or the supporters in the stands, it is determined by those that write about it. Journalists, editors, bloggers…all of us hold cricket’s legacy in our hands.

Jarrod Kimber is providing this game we love with a legacy that will last a thousand years. And we need to do the same.

#ICYMI

I have been doing some freelance writing, and I wanted to pass along the links in case anyone was interested.

For the brand new PasteSoccer.com I have been helping them out with their World Cup coverage. I wrote a piece about why Switzerland is going to shock the world this summer, as well as a couple more straightforward previews (Ecuador, France, Honduras and the Swiss), a stadium gallery and a few quick-hit video posts – with more to come, too.

Regarding cricket, I also wrote two short features for the ACF Champions League’s official site: a player feature on all-rounder Fawwad Latif and a team profile of the Arizona Scorpions.

Getting paid to write is both rewarding as well as far more tedious, as I tend to agonize over every word for the paid pieces, while here on the blog I just shoot from the hip – which is a bit more fun. That said, seeing the money show up in my PayPal account makes the agonizing worth it.

Mankading

Earlier this week Sri Lankan bowler Sachithra Senanayake “Mankaded” English batsman Jos Butler and the whole of world cricket went completely mental.

Traditionally, while legal, the act of Mankading is seen to be in violation of the “spirit of the game”, and those four words tend to bring out the best of the best and the worst of the worst when it comes to cricket related debates (just ask Ian Bell).

I, for one, don’t really have an opinion on this particular run out* – as I support neither England nor Sri Lanka – but I will say that it was a legal maneuver on Senanayake’s part and until the law is changed, everyone should just get on with the game – and quit backing up in the meantime.

However, off the pitch, I love it when this kind of thing happens and we all get to talk about it for a few days. It’s these bizarre intricacies of this weird little game that – at the end of the day – keep us coming back for more. Making Mankading illegal maybe would shut everyone up, but it would kill off a little bit of cricket’s soul – a little bit of its spirit, if you will – and I think that would be the real shame here.

Jos Butler’s wicket is worth the sacrifice.

And debating the “spirit of the game” – and whether or not it’s being upheld or pissed on or both – is way better than talking about spot fixing, doping or any of the other actually really horrible parts of the game.

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In baseball, they have outlawed the always controversial home plate collision, and I gotta say that while the game might be safer and mildly less contentious, it’s also 10% less interesting, and 10% more sterile.

Cricket has been castrated enough as of late, no reason to cut anymore.

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*I actually do have an opinion: Butler was being lazy and England batted poorly. That’s what cost them the match. Not ICC playing regulation 42-11.