Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's not about sport, it's more important than that.

The story of Australia's worst civil disaster - one to be measured in terms of warzones - has too many stories and aspects to cover in any meaningfully right now. It's touched all Australians, I think, in ways we'd never have realised. Everyone knows someone - and it's the main topic of conversation.

It might be a one-night wonder on the news there, but overseas reaction has been heartening. Practical help too - US and Kiwi firefighters are on their way. Thanks mates. A worthwhile ANZUS treat.

The usual interstate bickering and rivalry has been put aside when it counts, and Victorian firefighters have been relieved at the fronts by their fellow men and women from NSW, SA, ACT and elsewhere, so they can catch a break. Many haven't slept for days. Many won't be able to sleep easy for a long time - if ever.

Now more than ever I'm afraid a head of state who is on the other side of the just world isn't enough. Nothing against the British royal family, but the Governor General, our first woman in the role, Quentin Brice, is the woman on the spot, and making the difference by being there.

There's been a hundred stories - tragic, sad, amazing, all scary, but what caught me today was the arrival of the Australian cricket team and Shane Warne in the rescue centres. Cricket is Australia's sport, they are the national team, whatever any other sports might like to say, and while the cricketers are all too human, to use a metaphor from the other bat and ball sport, they stepped up to the plate. Just hearing a mum and kid getting Ponting's signature made it obvious it was the best thing that happened to them for a long time.

Warne was a genius sportsman with feet so clayey he could make a pottery, but he's still a hero to many kids.

From The Age:

Shane Warne sees one of his deliveries dispatched.

Shane Warne sees one of his deliveries dispatched.

It wasn't till the game of bush cricket started that he managed to really crack the ice. A skateboard was the wicket and a cardboard box the stumps. He bowled, an effortless graceful curve, while a determined small boy with a tight face and a bat waited. Every now and again one managed to thwack the ball. "Run run run!" Warnie would yell. While the batter kicked up a cloud of brown dust racing to the wicket, fellow bowler Garry Lyon yelled to the crowd, "We need some fielders over there!" One fielder came to grief after colliding with the towbar of a parked car. He picked himself up and kept right on running.

For the next batter, a small boy who doubled over in his hapless effort to intersect with the ball, Warne had a diagnosis: "Head before wicket!"

To another, who failed time after time to come within cooee, "You took it well though, champ, well done."

Warne wouldn't have known it, but one of the little boys there to see him had just lost his best friend. Another had lost his home and the rest of his street. The lucky parents there had cameras to capture their child's moment with their hero. The unlucky ones had the clothes they were standing in.

Warnie may just have played the innings of his life for his native Victoria, and the score doesn't matter at all.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When did you get the new GG? I'll have to look her up. Do you like her?

I'm glad we are sending useful help in the way of firefighters.

Enjoy the matches (cricket that is...)