On a recent Saturday in the misty rain that was Melbourne I was there when a young player won the game for us. We were playing away from home chasing 187 runs. Unfortunately, we were 5/55 before tea. What made it worse was that due to illness we were one less player than normal.
When I got out there as the second last to bat we had 100 on the board with thirty overs to play.
I describe myself as a corpse with pads and normally would begin to play for the draw. This time was different the 87 runs needed were not insurmountable. Also, the wet conditions made it impossible for the ball to be caught. All we needed to do was knock the ball around. Which is what we did. Eventually I got out trying to play a straight ball down leg and missed, LBW.
It was plumb. We still had 53 runs to go and only one wicket till we were all out.
Common Support For All.
Here is when it got interesting and it has to do with how we understand community. Because community is more than just your club. It is the totality of your sport, of your society. It is the human endeavour writ on the small green oval by players in white. If you cannot support the efforts of those playing on both sides I think you need to take account of yourself.
As the runs continued to get closer to the needed 187 our game drew a bit of a crowd. It consisted of players and family of the club we were playing against. You would expect a little bit of banter and some antagonism. There was none. Those batting were both under 18 with the oldest edging closer to 80 runs.
The older men watching our game would walk over and check out the score. They would comment that it was getting close. Others looked at the runs made by the older teen. They nodded making comments such as “He’s batted well. And on a wet day like this.”. Then they found out that the captain of my team was the young man’s father.
The shoulder taps began along with the congratulations that only parents and grand parents can give. As all this was happening the score was getting closer and closer to the winning total.
Then Something Good Happened.
Sometimes when the total is close and the last wicket partnership is remaining it gets really nervous. It was not that nervous to me. The number of onlookers had grown by this time. The story was being passed around. The winning runs were hit and the final over played out. The players started walking off the field and the shout to play on came from the father whose son was on 86 runs and could get a hundred.
Somethings should not be stopped like that. It is just not considered fair to do so. But some players continued to walk off the field. It was here that the crowd came to the rescue. A crowd who had just seen their team loose by one wicket. “You can’t stop now he’s almost got a hundred!” “You gotta give him a chance there’s still ten overs to play.”.
Fathers, Mothers and Grandparents who know the pride and joy of seeing their youth achieve supported what could have been a further humiliation to their own team. It was a humiliation that lasted only another four balls as the top scorer ended up bowled for 93.
An Expression of Common-Unity.
It was a scene that resonated in my mind for a while and I had to write this out. Because I was seeing something in action that has been talked about but rarely described in the way I saw it that day. Community.
In the midst of a cricket game I saw acted out a common unity. The unity was one of support and acknowledgement of a single persons achievement. One that allowed that person to go beyond the game and reach for a treasured milestone.
It was not the batsman raising the bat, or, bowler raising the ball. Those instances are singular and about an achievement of the individual which is applauded. This was a privilege extended to a player that was considered worthy due to the common unity of those watching and playing the game.
How can you leave a player so close to a hundred runs when there is time and overs remaining? It fits the old adage “It’s just not cricket.”. Which, if you know cricket history is an oxymoron. As cricket is littered with horrible moments of selfishness.
Personally I take pride in being a part of that moment when almost everyone was of one accord. In unity together about making an exception which did nothing but elevate the game and the day. While most news documents division between everyone about everything. It is good to know that people can unite together about something that is good and worthy.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.