As mentioned on my About page, I like sport, despite coming from a not-particularly-sporty household. I wouldn’t ordinarily plan on writing more than one long(ish) post in a day, but since there seems to be a lot of sporting issues around as we head into the weekend (the traditional sporting time of the week) I thought I’d comment on a few things.
Firstly – cricket. Cricket was the first sport I fell in love with. My early primary school years, like so many other people’s, were dominated by football, a sport I have learned over the years (especially in Liverpool, where the subject is unavoidable) to take an interest in but never loved. That all changed when two things coincided – I started attending my local cricket club for Colts training, and my primary school got a new teacher who was cricket mad and a qualified umpire. So I went through the rest of primary school, and then secondary school, in love with cricket. I played many other sports, and eventually fell more in love with rugby (more of which shortly), but during that time cricket was my sporting passion. So, like millions of others, the recent revelations over the alleged involvement of Pakistan test cricketers in what is known as spot-fixing has greatly saddened me. The timing has not helped – they had the backing of many neutrals, what with the inability to play matches at home, the recent terrible flooding in their country, and their recent victory after so long over Australia. Now, all that goodwill has gone. Of course, they are only allegations, and if they are found innocent then I for one will be pleased, though the evidence available in the public domain does not look good. But, in the meantime, it is right that they are suspended by the ICC – it happens in most other workplaces, that staff are suspended while investigations take place into serious misconduct. I don’t take it to mean they have already been found guilty and neither should anyone else. If, however, they are found guilty, then the ICC must act swiftly and ban them from all forms of cricket for life. For the young, talented, promising Mohammad Amir this would seem especially harsh, but he is 18 and must take responsibility for his actions just as the others must. I, like any Christian, believe in giving people second, third, even seventieth chances. I believe we are called to forgive as we are forgiven. If they are guilty I will forgive them on a personal level, and I will not take this one occasion to mark them down as entirely rotten. I will wish them well in their future life and truly hope that it goes well for them. But no sport can tolerate cheating, especially a kind of cheating that robs people both emotionally and materially. Cricket, owing to it’s nature, has been plagued by rumours of such activities for a few years now and the ICC must do all it can to maintain the integrity of the sport – life bans are incredibly harsh, but I feel they are the only way forward. In the meantime, I will be praying for all involved that the truth will be found.
Cricket is not the only sport that has been featuring scandals recently. My other beloved sport, rugby, has once again been in the news for the wrong reasons because of the General Medical Council case relating to the doctor who was working at Harlequins during the “bloodgate” scandal. Bloodgate was a serious blow to those of us who genuinely thought rugby was immune from the win-at-all-costs mentality we feared football was becoming prey to, and that it involved such a rugby legend as Dean Richards was additionally disappointing. Though, to be honest, bloodgate also brought some relief, as I’m sure it did for many Bath Rugby fans, since it detracted from the problems and scandals our own club had been facing over apparent drug-use at the club. We have moved on from then though, and last season was a very positive one for the Blue, Black & White, with hopefully more success to come following our new ownership, and the permission granted for development of the new club HQ at Farleigh House. There are still many questions over our ground (will we/won’t we stay at the Rec or move somewhere else?) but as the new Aviva Premiership kicks off tonight with Newcastle Falcons visiting Sale Sharks I’m feeling very positive about the new season, while I also wish to offer good luck to the England and New Zealand sides competing in the final of the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final on Sunday – Mrs Nomad played rugby at uni and is a big fan of the sport too so I’m hoping they can go out and show that women’s rugby is as good as men’s as both a spectator and participator sport.
Also kicking off tonight is England’s qualifying campaign for football’s Euro 2012 competition. Despite the complete and abject failure at the World Cup this summer I expect England to qualify quite simply, as they did for the World Cup – as a manager Capello’s difficulty is clearly the unusual environment of a short-term tournament, something he’d never faced before. As mentioned, I’m not the world’s biggest football fan but I wish the team all the best – tournaments certainly hold more interest when they are playing that when they aren’t. But, they need to show that when they wear an England shirt their mind is on the match and not on their next game for their club – like most amateurs who only dream of such opportunities I don’t mind bad results but I do mind lack of effort.
And for all those playing or watching sport this weekend – enjoy, and remember the outcome is not a matter of life or death.