This post is inspired by the #blimage series. Read about the genesis of it here with Steve Wheeler. Thanks to Don Taylor for the challenge/invitation to contribute. Don posted a selection of images. Naturally I chose the cricket picture to write about.
10 years ago, England famously won The Ashes for the first time since 1987. I was working at QA at the time and vividly remember having a discussion with a colleague about the marketing campaigns that were running throughout that summer. He said we should have some kind of Ashes references linked to our training courses at the time – one dayers, five day tests, that kind of thing. To which I scoffed and said ‘nobody really cares about cricket’. Because at that time I didn’t care about cricket. And by the way how wrong was I given how much coverage that particular series gained at the time and ever after!
I grew up as a lover of sport. As a tomboy who wished to be like my hero George from the Famous Five, I played football with the boys, collected Panini sticker albums and, being Welsh, fully embraced rugby madness from a young age. But cricket? No thanks. How could a game where nothing happens possibly be of any interest?
But then during the 2005 Ashes series, the Edgbaston test happened. Mr G is a big cricket fan and previously I had always left him to it. But for some reason – probably as the match started getting tighter and tighter – I got drawn in. As he started to explain the rules I found myself barely able to peek out from behind the sofa as England beat Australia by two measly runs. It had been so tense, so thrilling that I found myself hooked.
Now, as England are on the verge of winning this current Ashes series and having even travelled to South Africa on my honeymoon to watch England play, I am indeed a bit of a cricket tragic. But why this change of heart? Without wishing to sound like a headmistress, I believe it has to do with learning the rules.
When I had previously looked at cricket on the TV, it didn’t interest me because I had no idea what was going on beyond the fact that the bloke in the middle is meant to hit the ball that the other guy is throwing in his general direction. So far, so dull. But once Mr G had drawn me a map of the field placings (I still have it), started to explain the different types of bowling and shots that can be played, it became more interesting. Also the fact that the match at Edgbaston was such a tightly fought contest engaged me with its drama, so I had more of an interest in gaining a deeper understanding of what was going on. And I have been on a journey with this beautiful game ever since. It isn’t like football or rugby where I grew up just inherently knowing the rules and understanding the subtleties of the game. I am constantly learning more about the intricacies of reverse swing or the impact of a turning pitch, and I love it.
Because you see, without the rules and the complexities of the game, all the hitting of balls in the world wouldn’t mean very much. It is the rules that make it interesting. And how the players work within those rules. Muralitharan has a crazy bowling action that many felt broke the rules of cricket. Kevin Pieterson’s switch hits provoked controversy, with many feeling the shot should be outlawed.
So what’s the learning message in this? Well, from my own perspective, I knew as soon as I saw the cricket picture that I would pen something about the journey I have been on with this beautiful game. It is a journey because I am still learning about it. But as someone who hates instruction manuals and never reads the rules of board games properly before starting to play, it’s a funny realisation that rules can work in our – my – favour.
However, the best thing about rules is that they’re made to be broken right? Here’s a quote from Picasso which is something of a perfect philosophy for me. I think I will have to actually read some of those instruction manuals from now on…