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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Sunday December 27 2009

Here:

… I am ethically opposed to the idea of hero worship in cricket. For a start, the art of manipulating a small leathery object, whilst capable of great heights of refinement, weighs in pretty low on the bravery scale. Keith Miller’s famous quote involving Messerschmitts and arses is always worth an airing. If Miller was to be considered a hero, it should be for the things he did whilst perched in a cockpit, not his feats with a bat in the middle of a green field on a pleasant summer’s evening.

And it isn’t just that professional cricket involves no extremes of danger. This question of heroes goes right to the heart of why we watch cricket and why I have never bought an autobiography. A hero is someone you admire, indeed revere, as a person. When watching cricket, it is not Alastair Cook the man I am interested in. I care not where he went to school, what his first pet was called or whether he prefers low-fat margarine to butter. Without wishing to be rude, I don’t care what he thinks.

I am only interested in him in so far (and for as long) as he bats. On the field, he is playing the role of Alastair Cook, performing in a long tradition of public theatre. How he uses his bat, how he stands at the crease, how he runs, all these things taken together form the Alastair Cook of the mind’s eye. VVS Laxman may have some interesting things to say on global warming, but to be honest, I’m only really interested in his wrists and their neurological wiring. To say VVS Laxman is my hero would be a little like saying Hamlet is my hero.

Well put, except that the relatively recent arrival of helmets and all-over body padding has surely made quite a difference to such thoughts.  Facing those West Indian fast bowlers without any such protections, as many did during the early stages of that terrifying dynasty, took a lot of courage.  Heroism, even.  But basically, I agree with Hughes.  You hear all kinds of stories about how certain cricketers (and certain film stars) are (were) not at all, in regular life, as they seem(ed) on the field of play (stage).

The trouble is, although cricket may not be heroic, it sure as heaven can often look heroic.  Rather in the way that classical music isn’t moral, but often sounds moral.  And if you lose all feelings of hero-worship when you watch cricket (for cricket read your favourite sport), something is lost.  Something childish and foolish, maybe.  But something.  Hughes himself admits that when he was a boy, his hero was ... Mike Atherton!

Next task: to find out what VV bloody S bloody Laxman has been saying about global warming.

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