Cricket is a sport that has provided for healthy recreation for over three centuries. Over time, the sport invented by shepherds has evolved and acquired new meanings which have ultimately suppressed the true purpose of the sport’s existence — fun. Rishad D’Souza was reminded of cricket’s lost basic by Brendon McCullum.
Brendon McCullum’s New Zealand has been the hot topic of world cricket for well over a year now. It all began when New Zealand began to win Test matches against formidable oppositions on a consistent basis. They have now gone seven series on a trot — both home and away — without losing any.
It is quite evident that McCullum, along with coach Mike Hesson, has imbibed some radical changes in team’s mindset, that has enabled New Zealand to realise their potential and excel across formats. The brand of cricket that New Zealand play enthralls everyone that stands witness to it; and it is difficult to imagine the current New Zealand side being involved in a boring contest. READ: Ross Taylor wishes to be at his aggressive best in upcoming ODI series vs England
However, it turns out that the McCullum-led change in the New Zealand side were not that radical at all. In fact, the team has simply reverted to the very basic purpose of the game, which in McCullum’s own words is to have fun and to place enjoyment at the centre of it all. According to his philosophy, cricket yields best results when approached with a child-like attitude.
“It sounds a bit corny, but we talk about the playful little boy who fell in love with the game. When you have that mindset you can be positive and aggressive. Because you’re thinking about what can go right, rather than what might go wrong,” McCullum said in an interview with The Telegraph. READ: Aggressive New Zealand find an orthodox hero in BJ Watling
The widely acknowledged origins of cricket lie in late 16th century English shepherds, who decided to use a stick to hit around small rocks. The activity was meant to offer a break from the rigours of their jobs, a way to elude troubles, a way to have fun!
The game soon developed. Stick was replaced with an object that looked like a flattened hockey stick and it was gradually shaped into the cricket bat as we see it today. The rocks and stones underwent a similar line of progression and today a perfectly-spherical object made of leather is in use. Other developments included pitches, protective gear and stands for audiences.
With these changes, the game began to acquire new meaning. Rivalries were formed and contests were held to determine the victors and in time the game started attracting money. Somewhere, in all these developments the idea of fun — the very purpose of cricket’s being — was pushed to the background.
This take on cricket obviously has not made New Zealand invincible. They get defeated every now and then. But when enjoyment is placed at the centre of sport, a loss becomes that much less painful. If a team fails to recognise defeat as part and parcel of the sport, it can trigger mental stress that leads to further defeat and eventually results in loss of form.
By subscribing to such a simplistic view of cricket, McCullum has freed New Zealand from the treacherous concept of ‘form’. Victories and defeats alike can be taken for what they really are — a natural part and parcel of the game — rather than a trigger to good or bad form.
Next time when New Zealand are seen plundering an opposition (or even when facing defeat), remember that they’re just a bunch of eleven guys reinventing the true spirit of cricket and basking in its fun.
(Rishad D’Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RDcric on Twitter)
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