Watching the Brisbane Heat get beaten in the semifinal of the Big Bash League (Thurs Feb 4) had me thinking – afterwards – that it was a glorious bestowment of humility.
Can humility be forced? Can it be given? Does it have to be chosen?
Warning: cricket terms used in this article. See glossary.
Coming from a cricket family, I talked with Dad about it the next day. We aired our awe and disparagement, as well as our ‘impressed-ness’ with the Perth Scorchers’ performance: credit where it’s due and all that.
Then a surprising thing happened.
I can’t remember verbatim what his words were, since I had my head in the fridge, and as mentioned, I was surprised. . .
For background: Dad played club cricket for around 50 years, in later years doing more umpiring than grinding his shoulder sprocket (his signature recipe is spin bowling).
He said “good thing it’s just a game.”
I paused, or maybe my head was spinning after switching from fridge rummage angle to standing angle too fast, and muttered something in agreeance albeit with a gentle bewilderment.
Just a game
Can I say ‘just’? Is that offensive?
Some people make their living from playing ‘games’ - Mum (yes, in the cricket family!) is perpetually both amazed and somewhat bothered about that, which is kind of interesting because I have made (some kind of) a living from playing music, which could arguably be just as feeble or just as moving.
I caught the Heat’s first finals match the Friday before, my first time at The Gabba – actually my first stadium cricket match, come to think of it – and a new creature awakened in me!
I’m scarcely that vocal at music gigs, and here I was embracing the role of being an audience of something some folks consider the opposite of culture: the opposite of the spiritual encounter that music is capable of being. Am I confusing sport’s ambition with its capability, or design?
Instead, I opened my mind to be in a different zone to the reclusive songwriter and Instagram ahh, aficionado, *cough* and joined the herd for three hours. To watch approximately 24 lads (including subs) wage a staged (gentlemanly?) war with fatal-capacity weapons: potentially including but not limited to pointy wooden stakes, a piece of concrete clad in some kind of platypus skin, sandpaper and sledging.
Perhaps God lets sport exist as a demonstration that there is a war being waged, concurrently with our ignorance of it: and how it takes a team to win it.
Not one bloke, one hero, one big-hitting slogger; not one hat-trick taker or yorker maker; not one gymnastician (sic) of a fielder.
It takes a team
I didn’t grow up playing much team sport. My extra-curricular activities were mostly solo: dance, gymnastics or music-related. Although you’re part of an ensemble in choirs and orchestras, it’s more like 50 people following one person’s directive, than building a bonded group or a solidified force. (I could have been doing it wrong.)
Cricket, on the other hand, really does need folks with different handy qualities. Team selection, then, would logically be as crucial as determining how many arms vs legs vs brain cells an animal needs.
Ego checking would preferably happen at the airport and get lost in transit.
You can put club colours on a player, but you can’t make them a team, or the next Marcus Allen (gridiron reference, no room in word limit to explain but well worth watching his episode of ‘A Football Life’).
Humility as a teammate
If you selected humility as a teammate, what would make it bring to the field? Probably a cool head; warm, gentle encouragement; a sharing spirit; fair diligence.
I am not saying Heat players lack humility – I can’t know their hearts and that’s not where I’m going with this at all – rather, I was struck by the consistency of the way the match played out that humbled each of them.
Opener Lynn at least warmed up to double digits this time (22), dismissed the following ball after his fellow frontman Denly was swatted like a firefly on 14. The holy one for whom there exists a campaign for single-moniker status, Marnus aka ‘Loose Bus Change’, swept (kind of a cricket term but never mind) himself out of the comp; his mate Heazlett hot on his heels out for 3, unable to back up his 74 not out ‘Player of the Match’ #heazlettbatraise performance the game prior.
Cinders, not Cinderella
Fittingly, Burns generated the most spark for the Heat with a number half a degree higher than a body temperature that would raise eyebrows in a Covid-19 test (in Celsius, obviously), but with the batting order melting into ash, it was mostly vapour under the Scorchers’ orbs from then on.
Continuing the theme of humblings (hey, if ‘learnings’ is now a word. . .) Steketee, the second-leading wicket taker in the comp was startlingly subbed out after bowling one over. Marnus was carted for 27 in one of his two, and all our bowlers left on field by the end of Perth’s innings had accrued more runs in their bowling scores than were scored by any of our batsmen except for Burns’ lukewarm top effort.
Swepson, taking the singular wicket for the Heat, seemed to simmer as the only consistent element in a match that probably felt like Track 6 on his own ‘Swepo’s Chill Out’ Spotify Playlist – ‘Slow Dancing in a Burning Room’ by my personal swoon, John Mayer.
On that note, back to the original quandary: is humility forced. . . Given. . . Chosen?
Either way, in this match, it won.
Cricket Term Glossary
Aficionado – not a cricket term
Carted – apples went flying to/over boundaries for lots of runs
Hat-trick – when a bowler gets three blokes out in three consecutive deliveries (doesn’t count run outs which don’t get attributed to a bowler’s figures anyway, basically because he wasn’t the last dude on his team to touch it)
Platypus skin – not to be taken literally, or orally. Platypus is a brand of cricket ball, and cricket balls are made of leather. They’re filled with cork, not concrete, but get hit and then tell me what you think
Sledging – insulting or verbally intimidating your colleagues who happen to be batting for the other side that day. Has been described as ‘mental disintegration’
Slogger – batter who hits big and can make quick runs but is also probably prone to getting out with some big variations of poor class
Umpire – referee, but less fitness and definitely no running required
Yorker – a ball pitched on or inside the popping crease (Google it). Really, really tricky to hit
Pepper Jane from the Toowoomba is a recovering workaholic and (under usual circumstances) a touring musician. Pepper Jane was raised free range on a farm on the Darling Downs. Pepper Jane generally writes for the arts, entertainment, folk music magazines and brewing songs within her own flexible schedule. It is the Lord to whom her craft celebrates.