Playing cricket is a team and individual game. To win you need the team. To play well all you need is to win for yourself. To be a cricketer you merely have to play. To have a club you need family.
More precisely you need families. While I do not have family playing alongside me, many of my friends at my club do. Brothers, cousins, uncles and of course mothers, sisters and aunties make up a good club. Many attend matches, assist at functions, hold office, even the presidency. Yet the dominant family relation at any cricket club is most often, fathers and sons.
What is the pinnacle of a fathers cricketing life? Playing alongside your sons. Though lets not pass over fathers and daughters or even mothers and sons. Playing a game of cricket with your progeny is a great honour for all parents. Inducting the child into an adult past time in the form of sport is possibly the closest to initiation Anglo-Australia gets.
Proud Dad Moments
At a young age many sons begin playing as substitute fielders out on the boundary. Far out on the boundary. Safe enough for Mum not to freak out. Close enough for the son to patrol the boundary and be a part of Dad's game. Though being on the field creates the possibility of proud Dad moments.
I remember a game when one young son was fielding on the long off boundary. The ball was miss hit into the air in his direction. Many days in the backyard and junior games came to the fore. Small hands were raised for the high skied ball. Dad, the wicket keeper, inhaled shallowly. We all held our breath as the ball descended towards young small hands.
And we all winced at the missed opportunity of a first catch. We all ran to him immediately after. Cheers all round. Even from the batsman who noted, as we all did, that the boy did not shy away from the rather hard cricket ball. Meanwhile a proud Dad checked that there were no broken fingers for Mum to find.
Cricketing Firsts to Make Dad Smile
Then there are the scorebook moments. In local cricket you often come across teams where there are only three or four surnames in a scorebook. Brothers, Cousins and Uncles all come to help when numbers are down. Of course the big moments are in the firsts. The first catch, the first wicket, the first Caught Dad, bowled Son. Getting dismissed by a father and son combination is certainly not the worst of all dismissals.
Father and sons batting together. Warriors in the middle fending off deliveries and maybe making their first runs. Even a first boundary coming from a thick edge that spears through the slips. One wonders how many of those chances were deftly missed when games were in their obvious conclusion.
Cricketing Parental Negatives and Positives
Of course times are changing and there are positives and negatives. Negatives come in the lack of time for sporting activities. Many parents have to work on the weekend. At most games there is always one person who arrives late. Or worse has to leave early. Our working culture today is a long way from the eight hour a day working week.
Positives come in the form of the possibilities with fathers and daughters. Though it is very rare to play against women in senior mens competitions, it does happen. Now with the growth of Womens and girls teams there will surely be in the future opportunity for fathers and mothers to share the same proud moments.
More Than One an A Team
These moments are the ones that reinforce the family aspects of a cricket club. They are in my view more important than winning premierships. Because they speak beyond the individual and even beyond the club. There is a difference between winning as an individual and winning as a team. And that is what team sport teaches at its best.
As a team, as a club, dare I say as a Church, we are better when we share in success and failures. We are able to commiserate and find solace with each other in defeat. In victory we are able to share even when we are not as effective as others. Proud dad moments are there to show us how it should be. It is not win at all costs. As the relational cost is too high.
Phillip Hall plays suburban cricket in Melbourne's Eastern Suburbs. Last year he won “Most Improved Player” and is still quite chuffed about that. When not playing cricket, Phillip studies at the University of Divinity working on a post-graduate degree in Theology.
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.