There are parallels outside the game which show humanity's need to maintain social order. The rise in street gangs with their hierarchical order which reconstructs family among those who have little or no genetic connection. The strong growth in interest and adherence by our newest generations to the legends of ANZAC just when the originals have exhausted themselves: at the going down of the sun, we do remember them. Respect has not died, its just earned more than inherited.
That Richards should have formed the Outright Foundation to further extend the central desire of cricketers as expressed by his Crusaders, seems poetic, almost beautiful. Here is country which thecricketragics knows well: the desire, damn it the passionate, burning need to ensure it is understood that cricket is more than a set of technical skills and who wins. It is more than a paycheque and the endless greed of business men already fat from gorging with ugly lasciviousness on players conflicted by a short time in the game and a long time in the commentary box or ghost writing for regionals. Such evil men use the word retirement as a threat, luring in even the big fish for fanciful contests between constructs meant to imitate parochial regional rivalries.
The public, doing as they are told, simply dance as the puppeteers pull their strings, unaware that attendance is never the aim. These contests are far less about successful salesmanship to fans - not necessarily interested in cricket - and far more about selling the soul of the game for twenty pieces of TV silver. The IPL is the most outstanding example but let's not delude ourselves, our own Big Bash is a successful facsimile which replaced everything in its path last January. It was still outshone by the Test side thrashing India and the promotional dreams of Ponting's resurgence, Clarke's heavy scoring and the quest by the game's greatest batsman in seeking an unheard of goal.
There is something gloriously fitting, that the architect of this ground up player driven resurgence, intent on defending the real game, should be led by a man with a quintessentially Australian ironic nickname. Only from days standing together in the sun, do cricketers engaged in the real business of the game anoint with such accuracy and somehow manage to utter nicknames with tongue so fully filling cheek. Swan Richards has been known as such for so long, no one knows his Christian name. His moniker derives from eight consecutive elegant ducks made way back in the days of pimpled youth.
For a man noted for flamboyance, there remains something of the mystic about him. Cricketers hold reverence for a man who makes bats.
The most important element of Baum's story, therefore, is not what will be done for player skills and competitiveness but rather how the Outright Foundation will play their game. To quote from the article, "There will be instruction not just in the complexities of batting, bowling and fielding but in the history of the game and the meaning of the Baggy Green, for instance. Students will study the psychology of the Test match. Batsmen will be taught the virtues of old-fashioned, but timeless concepts such as patience and playing in the ''V''. Bowlers will be taught about patience and about the cumulative force of dot balls. In Test cricket, sometimes the most important and hardest thing a player can do is nothing. It is the game's essential and enduring charm - and mystery." Instructors such as Damien Fleming, Merv Hughes, Dean Jones, Greg Chappell and "Nancy" MacGill will begin the new discipleship.
thecricketragics sunrise hot cuppa and raisin toast will taste so much better this morning.