If you had told me two to three months ago that I was going to write three consecutive pieces on cricket, and four of the last five, I would have first asked you who the hell Australia were playing that summer, and then told you that you were a little bit Metta World Peace … err … Ron Artest … um, crazy.
Yet, on my busy Friday, as I grabbed my newspaper from the staffroom only for the purposes of throwing it into the recycling bin (yes, I’m that busy), there on the back page was an image of a defiant Australian cricket captain, Michael Clarke, with the headline, ‘I want Warne’.
Now, before those ‘in the know’ hit me with facts regarding who actually writes the headlines and whether or not Clarke even alluded to that, let alone said it, I’m just going to assume he was talking about something like his favourite colour and our bastion of bad journalism simply sensationalised it. It’s the Herald Sun, peoples.
But make no mistake, that there is a strong sentiment in sporting circles that Warne could help us win the Ashes and return to the top of the cricket rankings if he was reinserted into the team, at the expense of … well, at the expense of no one, really. Sorry, Nathan Lyon, you’re in a no-win situation so long as the greatest ever is up and about.
The irony of Warne then going out in the 20/20 match and getting absolutely spanked was jarring. But this is not about Warne, nor about our captain, nor the role the media has to play in all this.
It’s about us. And our inability to let go.
As Aussies, we’ll always have something to whinge about. When we won 16 tests in a row – twice! – cricket was boring and we longed for the glory battles of old with the West Indies and England.
Yet when India or South Africa or those darn Poms hand us our butts every now and again, we react like a shotgun blast has gone off next to our ears and frantically search for excuses, players and selectors to blame. We follow these displays of bad losership by tragically longing for the glory days so badly that when we see an ex-superduperstar like Warne performing so well off the field*, you think that he could just pull on the whites and strike fear into the heart of every batsman yet again.
*Come on, you have to give it to him for hooking up with Liz Hurley. As far as revenge goes for losing the Ashes, you couldn’t have written a better script for getting back at the Poms. Well, besides actually beating them.
A fresh perspective
As I have mentioned before, my Lakers picked up two superstars of their own during the offseason – Steve Nash, and my favourite non-Laker at the time – Dwight Howard. I was instantly fascinated and most pundits had us locked in to win the Western Conference with some hope of being back in title contention.
Well, what followed has been a classic case of bad defence, a sacked coach 5 games into an 82 game season, poor chemistry, a new team trying to figure each other out and a tonne of losses.
To this, the old Pete would have gone off his tree, slammed his hand down repeatedly on the armrest of his recliner, looked around madly for trade opportunities and found some reason to place all the blame on the Boston Celtics.
Good thing then that a year away has grounded me into the fact that in sport, it won’t always go your way. Yes I support a franchise that has won 16 titles, one less than the aforementioned evil green, and expects to be right up there in title contention every year it puts a competitive team on the court.
But has the fact that my team is currently middle of the road and unless something major happens, probably hasn’t got the cattle to get the job done made me enjoy the season any less? Well, that leading question has one obvious answer. Not at all.
Just this last weekend, some good friends of mine were watching a thoroughly entertaining New York Knicks upset over the Miami Heat. I hope NY continue to get better; some of my good friends are Knicks fans. (And we need more rivals to, you know, hate…!)
Admittedly, when I see the scores of LA losing games it should roll all over on, the frustration is definitely still there. But I’m going to try to not get sucked into the analysis of why that is. I’ll continue to enjoy some of the best athletes on God’s green earth ply their trade. We’ve dominated before. We will again someday. If it’s not this year, so be it. (But it’ll p!ss the hell out of Kobe!!)
But it’s better in footy, right?!
A similar disappointment rose its ugly head last year when my Bombers picked my return from the year without sport to throw in the towel after an excellent beginning and play some of the most insipid football from a team you’ll ever see. How do you lose 10 of 13 after winning 8 of your first 9? Will that ever happen again!?
There were a few games that I was really looking forward to – the St Kilda and Richmond night games, to name just two. Early on in both those games, however, it was clear that my team didn’t care, so why should I? No hissy fit, just a simple change of the channel.
Back to Warne
So with the 12 months off and the LA and Essendon scenarios in mind, I totally understand the sentiments behind wanting a Shane Warne to return to the fold. What he brought to Australian cricket and sport can never be duplicated. But that’s why he’s great. If Warnie was so easy to replace, he wouldn’t be as special and he was. Was.
As a sporting public, we need to grow up and accept it when things don’t go our way, which they often won’t.
The amount of poor spinners we have gone through since one bloke who took a ridiculous 708 test wickets hung ‘em up – 11**! – highlights the impatience of the selectors and the Australian public.
(** This is not a fabricated number – Stuart MacGill, Brad Hogg, Nathan Hauritz, Beau Casson, Cameron White, Jason Krejza, Bryce McGain, Steve Smith, Xavier Doherty, Michael Beer and now Nathan Lyon have all given it a shot. And that’s not counting those who have helped out with their spin bowling – Andrew Symonds, Marcus North, Michael Clarke and David Warner.)
As sports fans, not just Australians, we demand success, and when we don’t get it, there’s hell to pay, whether it be football, cricket, basketball or the world game. I’m fortunate in that a large chunk of time away from all games precludes my night or weekend being ruined by a poor effort by one of my (many) teams.
But that opportunity is there for everyone. We just have to let go.