I’ve been to a few funerals lately. Not a crazy number. It’s not like a bunch of people suddenly dying all around me. But a few. People of different ages, dying for different reasons.
It’s the kind of thing that makes you think about life and the whole hullabaloo. Why are we here and what’s it all about, and other questions of that kind of ineffable nature.
At the risk of sounding like I’m trivialising things, there’s another significant event occurring around this time. It’s the beginning of the cricket season.
Ah, cricket. That great and ancient game. In the current circumstances, I can’t help thinking that cricket, more than any other sport, definitely seems to be a metaphor for life.
The main focus in cricket is on the batsman (or batswoman – cricket has definitely become a more equal game in recent years). At the start of your innings, you step out to bat. And then, what happens?
You might get a doozy first ball – a delivery that is absolutely unplayable. Then you’re walking back off the field. Nothing you could have done about it. No chance to make amends. It’s over.
Alternately, you might negotiate that first ball without any fuss, and ditto for the second and third. In the end, you might bat all day – or even for multiple days (in cricket, unlike baseball, you’re basically in until you go out).
Off course, there’s a lot of skill in building a long innings. But there’s often a lot of luck as well. You might be the beneficiary of a dubious umpiring decision, or you may be dropped in the field multiple times.
And there’s yet another factor in play. In cricket, unlike baseball, the ball bounces before it’s hit, which means the quality of the surface it bounces off makes a big difference. You might get a nice, true, flat pitch with even bounce. Or you might get a greentop, where the ball whizzes through, or a dry, cracked pitch where it bounces in random directions.
Main thing is, you never know what will happen prior to the fact. You never know if you’ll bat all day or be out first ball (a golden duck).
Sounds a lot like life to me. Sure, there’s plenty of skill in leading a long, well-lived life. But there’s always going to be luck as well. You can make all the best choices, but if your number is up, there’s not much you can do. You might last a day, or you might last a hundred years. And like the different pitches in cricket, we are all born to different circumstances. Whether you can overcome these or not is as much luck as it is skill.
Maybe that’s why I love cricket so much. Maybe it’s the sport that rings most true for me, despite the various scandals and controversies it’s recently faced. Back when I used to play, I loved every minute when I was standing at the crease, and always despaired when I was out. Then again, maybe it’s also why I love life so much.
I guess there’s one major difference between life and cricket. As long as you’re playing, any single dismissal is not the end. There’s always another game and another innings. Is that the case for life as well? Maybe one day I’ll get to find out.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as