The spirit of cricket

The cricket World Cup is on. And what better time than now to deliberate upon what has been described as that ‘will-o’-the-wisp located in an imaginary cloud castle 3-4 miles above the Lord’s cricket ground’ – the spirit of cricket.

The spirit of cricket, which the preamble to the MCC laws of cricket says, among other things, is playing hard and fair, respecting teammates and opponents, and having self-discipline. These are dictums that apply as much to life as they do to all other games.

Playing hard and fair involves training and practice, knowing that irrespective of the results of a match, it must be played within the rules. Respect means to be polite, to learn to listen to others, to think before you speak. Self- discipline involves restraint, perseverance, having goals. It teaches you to take the blow of defeat on your chin and motivate yourself to do better the next time. It makes you enjoy the better performance of your opponent and man enough to congratulate them.

Each of these are virtues that will make you a better person and help you face the vicissitudes of life bravely. Mike Brearley, arguably the most astute captain the game has seen, says it best: ‘Examining the topic of the ‘spirit of cricket’ is one route into wider questions about honesty, transparency and generosity; about deviousness, trickiness and cheating.’ And they say cricket is just a game! May the matches in this World Cup be played in the spirit of the game.


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