Cricket is a larger than life, especially in India. We are drawn towards the game because it is exhilarating, enjoyable and teaches us so many things. Here are some of the valuable life lessons from the Gentleman’s game.
Never Give Up
Graeme Smith broke his arm and retired hurt. 9 wickets fell and Australia began celebrating. To the bewilderment of everyone, Smith came back into the ground. With a fractured hand, he survived more than 20 balls. With only 11 balls to go, a Mitchell Johnson’s yorker cleaned up Smith and Australia won the Test match.
That didn’t matter. Smith might have had a broken arm that day, but he was not a broken man. He could have easily conceded the Test match when 9 wickets fell, but he didn’t. He gave it a try. He pushed himself despite the pain. He pushed himself despite knowing that South Africa had already won the Test series.
“Never underestimate the opposition, no matter how weak they might be”
India vs. Bangladesh in the World Cup 2007. With an almost picture-perfect squad, India traveled to the West Indies for the World Cup only to come back after the group stages. Their surprise loss to Bangladesh sent shock waves through the tournament and catapulted them out of the 2007 version. Later on team management admitted complacency played a big part in them underestimating their rivals.
No matter what field you are in, no matter how weak the opposition is, never ever underestimate them. They want to win as much as you do.
“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”
South Africa was the favorite to win the 1999 World Cup. In the final match of the Super Six stage, Australia needed a win against South Africa to progress to the semi-finals. South Africa was already safe.
The South Africans batted first. Gibbs scored a wonderful century and they finished at 271. The Australian chase was rocky. They were 48/3 when Steve Waugh came into the crease. Waugh began slowly; and when he was batting at 56, he gave a simple catch to Gibbs who was standing at mid-wicket, who took the easy catch – but before the ball was fully into his hand, he threw the ball skywards, celebrating. The ball fell out of his grasp and hit the ground. Waugh went on to score 120 runs and Australia qualified for the semi-finals.
The semi-final match between these two teams ended in a draw and Australia progressed because they had earlier defeated South Africa in the group stages. That drop by Gibbs was the pivotal point in all this drama. As Steve Waugh puts it, Gibbs did not drop a catch, he dropped the World Cup.
“Life is not always fair!”
The year was 1992. South Africa, a nation just freed from Apartheid were looking to reestablish themselves as a force in international cricket. They easily made it to the semi-finals when they faced off against England. England scored 252 runs from the allotted maximum of 45 overs. South Africa needed 22 runs from 2.1 overs.
Then came a 12-minute rain delay. 12 minutes of rain that changed the course of an entire match. In 1992, in case of a rain delay, they used the lowest-scoring overs of the team batting first to set the revised target. The rule was complicated and hard to understand. The revised target was a joke – South Africa needed 22 runs from 1 ball.
The South Africans couldn’t do anything. They faced the final ball and went back to their dressing rooms.
Life, like cricket, is not fair at all times.