In these hectic days of high-pressure sport with the tremendous exposure to the media of television and press there is a tendency to overlook the real meaning and values of sport in the world today. Yet cricket remains more than a game. It is still a way of life and it behoves each and every one of us who play it, at school or international level, to remember the on plain fact … winning is not the be-all and end-all of an encounter in which the batsman strives to master the bowler. The laws of the game demand more than a mere observation of the lettering sometimes obscure and ever complicated. It is the spirit in which the game is played that is remembered long after the result is recorded and forgotten. The near hysteria that nowadays tends to relegate the actual playing to the minor concession of an afterthought is dangerous and regrettable. Cricket remains a team game in which the individual performances have their place, but must never outweigh the desirability for each and every one in the side to produce his best and play his part. I recall the glorious days of my Lancashire leadership at the turn of the 1970’s when one-day cricket had just become the vogue and two John Player League Championships and three Gillette Cup final victories highlighted our progress at old Trafford and elsewhere. It was my privilege to captain a good side. We had, in Clive Lloyd a magnificent batsman and fielder and a bowler never to be treated lightly. Farokh Engineer was a spectacular and match wining wicket keeper who could also hammer out the runs.
We also had England players of the calibre of David Lloyd, Peter Lever, Barry Wood and Ken Shuttleworth and wherever we played the crowds gathered. But we were more than a talented side. We had great team spirit and that was the most important factor of all. Nobody really minded who got the runs or the wickets just so long as victory came our way with dignity and respect. There were times when we lost but that never really mattered just so long as we played the game. Laughter and leg-pulling were our safety valves; contentment and satisfaction our reward. If we enjoyed ourselves there was not much doubt those who watched would also have a good time. Surely that remains the ultimate in sport? It is important to play to win but there should be no disgrace in defeat. It is better by far to try and fail than never to try at all. My message to all youngsters just beginning to explore and enjoy the delights of a truly great game is to give your all. A century with the bat, six or seven wickets with the ball, and catch or two in the field, are the hall marks of good players, but no man can play cricket alone. It takes 11 men to make a team and 22 to produce a game and the object of that game is to come out on top if at all possible.
But only if victory is deserved and earned comes the real satisfaction of playing. Ignore the shouting and turmoil; accept the plaudits but never resent the criticism. A cricketer is essentially a sportsman to welcome and a match is a sporting encounter in which the losers also play their part. Remember the words of the old time poet who wrote to the effect that: “When the one Great Scorer comes to mark your book, he will ask not did you win or lose, but did you play the game?”
In this memorable year for Whaley Bridge Cricket Club I wish your members, players and supporters every success both on and off the field.
Jack Bond : 8.1.1983
This article was extracted from the Whaley Bridge Cricket Club 1883 – 1983 centenary year handbook