Overs 3.3 - Cricket - A Sport for All
The game of cricket has had a lot of curve-balls thrown at it with vicious intensity during its long history. Whether it be endless rumours and sagas involving match-fixing or spot-fixing, or the inadequacy of administrators, or the irritating confusion when it comes to the Duckworth Lewis method and bad light policies. But last weekend I experienced just what is so good about cricket. As Cricket Australia puts it, Cricket is, truly, "A Sport for All".
The National Cricket Inclusion Championships was definitely an eye-opener for me. High praise must go to Cricket Australia putting in place some wonderful initiatives to continue the growth of the game and creating outstanding pathways to really make the game inclusive to everyone. To see the game being made accessible to the blind, the deaf and intellectually disabled is very heartwarming. To play the game with optimal sensory function is already difficult, but to play it with an impediment is superhuman.
Sunday 19th January was a momentous day for cricket. It was the first time in history that a women's deaf cricket match was played anywhere in the world. This achievement should not be underestimated. If you wanted to see noble humility and authentic gratitude, then it was plastered on the faces of these incredible women. These individuals are the inspiration that the game needs. In the world of lucrative contracts and an insane amount of money thrown at the cricketers, here were these amazing people who have unconditional love for cricket and would play the game for nothing. Congratulations to Cricket Australia administrators who really get inclusions cricket and the unbelievable number of volunteers that make the dreams of those affected come true.
The land that we stand upon today belongs to the traditional custodians, our Indigenous people. The first Australian team to travel overseas was in the year 1868. Incredibly the team was made up of Aboriginal cricketers from Victoria, who, despite racial tension, vilification and discrimination performed admirably. However, they were forgotten for over a century. Last year, Cricket Australia announced a commemorative tour of the United Kingdom that included an indigenous men's and women's teams to mark the 150th anniversary of the inaugural tour. It is not the action of having a commemorative tour that is important, but the consistent and continuous support of the indigenous game that sets Cricket Australia apart. They have made it clear that they would like to correct the oversights made in the past, focus on growing the game amongst Indigenous Australians and further educate the community on the importance of Indigenous cricket.
Then there is the growth of women's cricket. The success of women's cricket whether the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) or the Southern Stars cannot be possible without the backing and support of Cricket Australia. The popularity of the women's game has never experienced such highs previously. Television viewership, attendances at the venues and the quality of cricket produced by the cricketers has increased markedly. Cricket Australia with all its negative publicity in the recent past, has set the benchmark in growing the women's game. They have set comprehensive pathways for female participation starting at school and at grass-roots. This is not limited to cricketers only, but for female administrators, coaches and umpires.
Giving respect where it is due, cricket is a universal sport with inherent goodness. There are many in the game that has wonderful intentions and would do anything to help others. I, wholeheartedly commend cricket in Australia and those involved in the governance of the game. A Sport for All.