2 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. We are in the early stages of the Great Australian Cricket Crisis (GACC). GACC is the biggest crisis to hit Aussie cricket, all Aussie sport and maybe even Australia itself since… the underarm bowling incident. This is if you care about cricket. If you don’t care about cricket then you must be Un-Australian. In that case, an agent for the Office of Un-Australian Activities will be on your doorstep shortly. You have been profiled and detected by your lack of Google or DuckDuckGo searches for “cricket” and “ball tampering”. Your searches for other applications of that second phrase will not save you. Enough said on that score.

    What’s in a game? Shakespeare might have said this. He didn’t but he might have. Just like eating a highly sugary cereal might help you become an iron person or it might (more likely) lead you to the path of more and more sugary eats ‘n drinks and finally obesity and diabetes. You’ve heard of “gateway” sugars haven’t you? But back to the topic. Shakespeare actually wrote “What’s in a name?” but he could have written “What’s in a game?”. They are both important questions.

    If you asked a child what’s in a game, she might say “Fun!” That’s a very good answer actually. It leads on to the real problem with cheating. Cheating is “Not fun!” Specifically, cheating is not fun for the cheated. However, if the cheater is caught then cheating can become fun for the cheated. But only if the cheater is punished. Now we get to the crux of it. The cheater must be punished and humiliated. Only then can cheating become fun for those cheated and for all that wider group who enjoy the punishment of cheating as a spectator sport. Now we are into another game. Notice how one kind of game escalates into another kind of game. Adult humans are a bit like this.

    “Come on, be serious,” I figuratively hear you thinking. Well, I will be serious about this. I will prove I can be a VSP (Very Serious Person). Bernard Suits defines the playing of a game as “the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles”. That’s pretty darn good. I can see all games being summed up by that definition. Except cricket of course. Cricket is special. And football. Which code? All codes, I cleverly answer. What about basketball or cards? Here, I feel on safer grounds. I detest both. The Office for Un-Australian Activities, aka the mass media, doesn’t appear to care strongly one way or the other about those games.

    Bernard Suits’ longer definition states: “To play a game is to attempt to achieve a specific state of affairs [prelusory goal], using only means permitted by rules [lusory means], where the rules prohibit use of more efficient in favour of less efficient means [constitutive rules], and where the rules are accepted just because they make possible such activity [lusory attitude].”

    I can’t be bothered looking up his derivation of “lusory”. I’m betting (another game) that it derives from “illusory”. I’m going to file “lusory attitude” along with Colderidge’s “willing suspension of disbelief”. Illusory sums it up. Games are pretty illusory. That stuff’s okay for kids, right? When we grow up we put away childish things, don’t we? Wrong. We adults get a whole lot more intense about games than kids. Kids can let things go of things very quickly. I once caught my best childhood friend cheating at monopoly. It was the old “take some 500 notes from the bank and hide them for use later” trick. I was outraged when I discovered the cheating due to his inept palming. (Inept palming becomes a theme you will soon see.) I was never going to be his friend again. Fifteen minutes later we were playing cricket in the backyard.

    So if kids can let go of cheating in games, why can’t adults? Because he who increaseth in knowledge, increaseth in deviousness. Yes, I know the received quote states an increase in sorrow. But some ancient scribe accidentally elided the important intervening phrase. It’s the increase in deviousness which then leads to the increase in sorrow, for all I might add. Games among adults escalate. Fun games lead to slightly more serious games. These lead to more serious games again. Finally, we arrive at very serious games which involve livelihoods and sometimes even life and death. Of course, the word “serious” here means “devious”.

    Remember that fun game of cricket in the backyard? If you were lucky enough, like me, to only have mediocre ability at cricket then you left cricket when you left childhood. You discovered wine, women (or men) and song (standing in for arts and crafts) were far more fun than cricket.

    Which brings us back to ball tampering. The Aussie cricketers, three of them in a cute little conspiracy, tried to use some yellow sticky paper to tamper with the ball; pulling off dirt and detritus to affect the swing of the ball. You don’t want to know the tedious physics of how this is supposed to work. These Aussie cricketers, wearing white flannels, used a yellow piece of paper while about 16 massively zoom-capable cameras were trained on them non-stop from all directions and while in the presence of a rabid press and public in South Africa who loathed the Aussies, with some good reason because of the Aussies’ petulant attitudes and incessant sledging. South African cricketers are scarcely any better of course. Being one-eyed is a national trait of international distribution.

    But back to the very visible piece of sticky yellow paper being inexpertly palmed in view of 16 cameras in bright daylight. One can only marvel at the childlike innocence and simplicity of this plan, exceeded as it was only by the belief that they wouldn’t get caught. Entitled man-children can be so cute, can’t they? Well no, it’s just kind of sad.

    But let’s escalate to the real fun game. Punishment. There is no crime without punishment. Sure, we can punish the cricketers, a little, for form’s sake. Much more do we need to punish the enablers, all those who create the sports-money nexus. It’s not the ball handlers who need serious punishing. It’s the money handlers. That starts with a consumer boycott of cricket. It’s a nice game which has been turned into a degrading and jingoistic spectacle by money and lots of it. And don’t think a consumer boycott won’t spread the punishment far enough. Fans will be punishing themselves by not watching the game.

  2. With thousands of people dying each week because they do not have enough food to eat, the ball tampering in South Africa is a minor matter. We get very hypocritical in our herd mentality. There has been corruption in cricket for over one hundred and fifty years. It began as soon as the English started to use professional cricketers in County games. They would go to rich people’s estate and fiddle the result for money. The betting corruption that has always been rife in cricket, the English have betting tents at big county games, has also corrupted any moral superiority claimed by cricket followers. Lets remember what it is important to get upset about in a collective sense of that word. Leave minor matters like cheating in professional sport to the dumb media journalists.

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