Guest post: 2011, all out
This is a guest post by Hugh Frost-Wellings
As an English cricket supporter I am an enthusiastic fan of Sir Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham. He has scored over 5000 runs in his test career and has taken over 380 wickets. Any cricket lover will be aware of the 1981 Ashes series which became known as ‘Botham’s Ashes’ because of an incredible performance from him which led to an English victory in the series.
He has also been given honorary life membership to the MCC; his picture hanging in the much coveted Long Room Bar at Lord’s Cricket Ground, and he has played professionally for Scunthorpe United and Yeovil Town FC. A few weeks ago Sir Ian wrote an article in The Telegraph saying, amongst other things, that cricket is good for schoolchildren; I couldn’t agree more. There are so many things to be learnt from cricket, which in my opinion is the greatest sport in the world.
For those who are not cricket fans, let me give you a fleeting description. In a cricket team there are eleven people all offering something different and with the correct balance of personalities and talents, an unstoppable team is created.
When batting there is an order in which batsmen play, and the skills and talents of each batsman determines their position on that order. Similarly, when fielding, different bowling talents offer different attacking options; different areas of the field require different aptitudes to ensure wickets are taken.
Our society here in Britain really is an exceptional one. We are such a mix of people, cultures, knowledge and skills each bringing something different to the table… or to the field. Everything which makes up our varied communities is wonderful and creates something extra special.
As I have explained; cricket is an amalgamation of talents working together; providing individual talents, skills and abilities to support the overall objective of the collective. What an excellent model for us to adopt for society. What’s that old expression? ‘The whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ This is certainly true of our society; I believe our ‘whole’ country really is great.
There are other intrinsic principles to cricket which also should be intrinsic to our society. In cricket, the bowler will not begin his bowling attack until he is confident that the batsman is ready for it. If the bowler should start his attack, or his ‘run-up’ as it is known, before the batsman is ready, the batsman will signal to him and he will stop and start again.
How excellent a mind-set that even in professional, competitive sport there is such a dedicated, obvious and adhered-to policy of fair play? And isn’t that something everyone wants in the country?
There is also incredible discipline and perseverance in a cricket match; they do last for five days, after all, and, depending on weather, 26.6 football games could take place during one Test cricket match. There is much criticism of the school system in this country, especially with regards to discipline.
Boris Boot-Camps have been unveiled across London to instil some discipline, sense of responsibility and team work for school children. Perhaps the organisers of these boot camps and all the workers in the camps should listen to Mr.Botham and myself and make cricket compulsory for the benefit of society.
We cannot ignore the headlines in all the papers and on the internet at the moment talking about the obesity that seems to be swamping the whole western world. The NHS is struggling to cope with the number of people with health issues related to weight problems such as diabetes and the country is unsure of how to deal with the problem.
Andrew Lansley, the current Health Secretary, has said that people should eat less. This is true. Eating less is half the battle to a healthy lifestyle and therefore a healthy society. The other half is exercise. And where better to start than a sport where you win, by running more than the other team?
I cannot stress enough how good cricket is for the country and why it should be more widely played and appreciated. A celebration of diversity, pulling together for the greater good, respect for one’s opponents, a sense of discipline and stamina as well as improving fitness. What are you waiting for? Stop reading this, ring a few friends and see how many runs and wickets you can take!