Cricket, like so many other things, relies on a connected world. Without such a world — the kind we live in right now — it would not exist in its current form. I think that is something we can all agree on. From British colonizers bringing the game via ships to the far flung corners of the globe (including the Caribbean and southeast Asia — imagine cricket without those parts of the world) to today, when I have access to cricket of all shapes and sizes thanks to our digital landscape. I can listen to County Championship games and stream Shield matches all from the comfort of my bed.
But despite our digital connections, the game still relies on actual, physical human travel. Teams and players travel the world to compete, and not just at the highest level, but at all levels. The USA men’s team, for instance, just played a handful of ODI’s in Nepal, nearly 13,000 kilometers from home soil. The world is huge. And it is fully connected. And cricket not just thrives because of this, but it relies on it to exist in its current form.
And maybe that’s not a good thing. These connections. This connected world.
I am being a little Chicken Little here, but I know that I am not the only one worried about the Coronavirus. This is a disease that is spreading outside of China because of one thing: our connected globe. It is not until a pandemic like this begins, that you realize how much people travel. Ten of thousands of people in and out of China every single day. Maybe hundreds of thousands. Maybe millions. It is remarkable when you stop and think about it. And a little scary. These connections bring us cricket, but they also bring us disease. Would I — and many other westerners — be worried about the Coronavirus if air travel didn’t exist? Probably not. But we forget about small pox and syphillis. So maybe travel of all kinds between continents would have to disappear for us to feel truly safe.
The other side of this coin is that because it is a global crisis, the globe is responding. If China were completely isolated, they would be on their to battle this disease. But now they have the resources of advanced medicine from all over the world. Which will save lives in China. And that is important, that cannot be overlooked.
But part of me, even the part that loves cricket, would be okay if the world was just a little bit larger, that we respected its vastness just a bit more. That instead of USA players flying to Nepal, they played Canada. Or a professional franchise based league was formed to nurture and grow the game. And maybe this respect for the size of our planet would in turn help heal our game, even though the game relies on a small world. Maybe the consternation about franchise T20 leagues or the slow death of the County Championship would be slightly alleviated, if we all just stayed closer to home.
I love to travel, and this all makes me a hypocrite. I went to Germany in November. I am going to Ireland in 12 days. And while I think globalization is problematic in some ways, it’s also not the evil some people think it is. And so I am not advocating for this in any seriousness. I believe in open borders where appropriate, and freedom of travel when safe for those on both sides of a line in the sand. But when pandemics hit, I think about this. And it snowballs into a larger thought of maybe, just maybe, our world is too small. Or, rather, that we think it is so small, when in reality it is almost too large for us to comprehend. And as mentioned above, that vastness maybe could use a little more respect now and again. For while we are all connected, and no country is an island — even the actual islands — when a butterfly flaps its wings in Arizona, it causes a tornado in Texas, not in Kirtipur. And maybe — again, just maybe — we would be better off if we all stayed a little closer to home, saw how green the grass was on our side of the fence.
Perhaps that it is worth the sacrifice of certain parts of this global game that we all love.
All of that said:
Lost in all this is that America has its own epidemic right now in influenza. There have been 48 flu related deaths so far this season just in my home state of Minnesota, and the season still has months to go. There are no global connections causing this outbreak, just simple ones like going to work and buying groceries at the corner market. Yet we all fear the unknown disease hitting China like a ton of bricks. Why? The key word there is “unknown” — we fear the unknown. And what makes the unknown a little more known?
A connected world. A knowledge of other people’s streets and what it means to walk down them in their shoes. Cricket is a global game, and maybe — just maybe — the connections that bring us this game, are the same connections that teach us that we are all connected. And in those connections we breed empathy. And understanding. And the unknown becomes the known, and we all grow a little less scared of what’s around the corner from the safe confines of our bubble.
All of this is to say that the world is very large, and it is also very small, and that we need to respect both, and enjoy the benefits of both. The same is true for life: it is very short, but it is also very long. Which brings me to the one thing I know for sure: it is too short and too long to spend a minute more worrying about the Coronavirus. Time to read about USA Cricket instead, and then maybe a walk in the cold sun, under blue skies.,