and dangerous game.
As any regular reader of my witterings is aware I am not very interested in sport. Not in the least interested might be a more accurate description - apart from the faintest interest in the psychology of cricket. (It seems to me that cricket is quite unlike any other sport in its individual/team focus.)
However, the news that yet another cricketer had been critically injured by a hard ball bowled at massive speed does disturb me. It should disturb any right-minded person.
Cricket used to be seen as a sort of gentleman's game. There is still a lingering suggestion that cricket should be played on the village green. Afternoon tea - with cucumber sandwiches - should be served. The weather should be fine. The teams should be evenly matched. I am sure you know the sort of thing I mean.
Or perhaps cricket should be what is played in summer in the back streets and alleys of suburbia. There should be long afternoons of arguing about whether someone was "out" - and who was going to climb the fence to rescue the ball from the garden of the house with the dog.
Perhaps cricket is still played on the village green in England. I don't know. It was never really played like that here. The cricket pitches of Downunder tend to be dry and dusty and surrounded by scrubby gum trees and bull ants. It tends to be hot and the coolers tend to be filled with beer rather than tea.
Children rarely play cricket in the back streets and alleys now. If they play cricket at all it is done "properly" under adult supervision. They are "taught" to bat and to bowl and to catch - and made to "practice". I suspect that a lot, if not most, of the fun has been taken out of it. Negotiating skills are not needed either because an adult decides who is doing what and how they will do it.
So, is it any wonder that adult cricket has also changed. Winning is more important than playing now.
And, at the very top level, it is big business. Enormous sums of money are involved in all sorts of ways. Cricket has to be entertaining. Performance is everything. Winning matters. The balls have to be bowled faster and harder than ever.
A cricket ball weighs about 160gms. It has the potential to be bowled with lethal force. Cricketers now use protective helmets - something once not thought necessary. But those helmets are not a guarantee of full protection. The cricketer hit yesterday was wearing a helmet but was apparently not using the most up to date and technologically advanced helmet - would it have made a difference?
I don't know the answer to that but I wonder why it has been necessary for cricket to become such a dangerous game - and I feel deeply concerned for the cricketer who was hit and the cricketer who bowled the ball which hit him.
Perhaps we all need to think of them next time we settle down to be "entertained".