“..It’s not just cricket but the overall culture that has changed. Ball-tampering? Why not! Our age has seen objective, acceptable standards of behavior — what constitutes agreed virtue, if you like — replaced by the anchorless relativism that is now the whole world’d default operating system.
Despite bodyline, there is no doubt that the game is almost unrecognisable from that which was played a century ago. What has changed?
Two snippets suffice to demonstrate the magnitude of the change in cricket and, indeed, sport generally. The first is the legendary Australian allrounder and Mosquito pilot (left) Keith Miller’s retort when asked about the “pressure” of playing Test cricket: “Pressure? Pressure? That’s not pressure,” he femously replied, “Pressure is having a Messerschmitt up your arse.”
The second is the equally legendary cricket commentator and former test captain Richie Benaud’s response to fellow commentator and former Test captain – appointing former Test captains to the commentary team is a Channel Nine thing – Mark Taylor, who once opined that Australia, having lost three wickets for five in a one day match, was a “tragedy”.
“No, Mark, that isn’t a tragedy,” Benaud replied, “mass starvation in Africa is a tragedy.”
Yes, one big thing that has changed is the loss of perspective. This is sport. Losing wickets isn’t “tragedy”. Playing cricket isn’t “pressure”. Cricket is not life. But is should still be permitted to say deep things aboutlife. Indeed, it should be expected to do so.
What explains the sea-change that has occurred? There is no doubt that sport has been caught up the sheer awfulness of the corporatisation and the commodification of everything. The contemporary world is monetised to within an inch of its life. From farming – yes always a business but now thoroughly financialised – to government, to the administration of sport, to education.
the decline of sport as a public stage on which the traditional virtues flourish is not just the result of marketisation. The culture itself has changed forever, in other and more sinister ways. All this has happened to sport just at the time when objective, acceptable standards of behavior — what constitutes agreed virtue, if you like — have been replaced by relativism as the world’s operating system. Hence the excuses that have rolled out this past week – they all do it, it isn’t really cheating, it doesn’t matter that much, let’s move on” – have currency in many of the institutions that matter, and this is the result of creeping post-modernism. What we have, not just in sport but everywhere, is an operating system where the very notion of virtue is under siege, where values are contingent.
It is noteworthy that it is the public that has called time on rancid on-field behavior. It is, above all, a national embarrassment.
Perhaps, then (and ironically), there still is a place for nationalism in a corporatised and globalised world. It is, above all, Australian shame that we are experiencing, and that still seems to matter. Perhaps also, there is also room for the conservative’s instinct that craves the civilising crutch of tradition and its attendant supporting mechanism for the free society, virtue. Call it the longing For an ordered liberty that speaks to moral behavior that flies in the face of relativist “corporate world.
There is more to cricket than money. It is awful that, one by one, the sports we all loved have been turned into something very different. Oh yes, on the surface, they are still the games we once cherished. But look a little harder at the folks who now play at elite level, their behavior, their culture, their operating systems, the words they use, their rewards, their lifestyles. I don’t see much to be admired.
We do live in sad times, in times that disappoint routinely. And we live in endlessly monetised, relativist, soulless times. That is for certain…” Crickets Libertarian Debasement