By Adam Wakefield
Brian Lara retired from cricket last Saturday, removing one of the brightest diamonds from cricket’s crown. Lara epitomised cricket’s paradoxical nature, proving that cricket is the ultimate individual sport played by a team (thanks go to Rahul Bhattacharya for that beautiful description). Cricket can be utterly frustrating to watch, but we forgive the gentlemen’s game because of geniuses like Lara, who wields his bat like a spring breeze, effortless in application but unique in its tangible fragility. I watch cricket because of men like Lara, and as a devotee of the cricketing gods and the gospel they preach. I am deeply saddened by his departure, for it is highly unlikely we will see his like again.
The environment Lara has retired in isn’t worthy of a man who pushed the boundaries (excuse the pun) of cricket. The World Cup was meant to be his swansong, leading the West Indies to triumph on home soil. That dream collapsed, as the West Indies’ ineptness saw them lose all the games that mattered as his team’s desire couldn’t match the passion of their supporters. Lara’s burden has always been that he was a colossus plying his trade in a side that couldn’t support him. Like Atlas, Lara carried the hopes and dreams of West Indian cricket on his diminutive shoulders for over 15 years, and along with Shane Warne, epitomised THE cricketing match-winner.
This column is being written before South Africa tackles Australia in the World Cup semi-final. Regardless of the result, the South African sporting public will most likely look for someone to crucify as it seems to have become a habit. Madness! The South African sporting public is more unforgiving than having a hangover while walking through the Karoo on a cloudless day. Why do we have this in-borne consternation whenever a South African sporting team loses?
This is strange especially since South Africans are commonly seen as jolly and friendly people. The main culprits for this schizophrenic behaviour at the moment are the Super 14 and the Cricket World Cup. I have heard horrible, ghastly sounds coming from the Rat & Parrot every weekend, comparable to that of the orcs (main chant: WAAAAARRGGGG!) going to war in The Lord of the Rings!
Bill Shankly said, “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.” Rhodents, hear me when I say that life is rather buggered sometimes, where people treat one another like crap without reason. So why do you add to these woes by hinging your mood on the result of the next Sharks game? I don’t understand such fanaticism. I’ll say that it takes a lot of effort to get worked up so much that you scream at the TV all because an extra digit was added to the L column in a table of results. Frankly, I’m too lazy too use what little energy I have to shout at JP Pietersen for dropping a pass. I’d rather just raise an eyebrow, mutter some expletive under my breadth and sip my beer. It’s just a game. Chill out. Exams are coming. Now that’s something to get worked up over.