In a world of internet scams and telephone deceptions, was it surprising that England’s Ashes victory left many feeling that somehow it wasn’t quite cricket?
EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT INTO SPORT, IF YOU ARE AN OLDER READER, you will remember the phrase, “It’s not cricket!”
It meant, “It’s not right” or “It’s not fair”. Cricket is not only a game with rules but with a long tradition of sportsmanship whereby you behaved in a way that upheld the rules; your behaviour was always righteous. When playing the game of cricket if you knew you had nicked the ball (touched it with your bat, not stolen it!) and it was caught by the wicket-keeper or another fielder, you immediately walked to the pavilion, even if the umpire had not spotted it. But that’s not so with today’s cricketers.
This was known as behaving like a gentleman or behaving like a true sportsman. It still happens in snooker. When a player accidentally touches a ball when cueing, he immediately acknowledges it and walks away from the table. This is true sporting behaviour where fairness is valued and cheating is despised. The professional snooker players want to win by superior skill – not by cheating.
I’m not a sports historian but I believe it’s true to say that cricket set the traditions of sportsmanship, so the phrase “It’s not cricket!” came to define standards of right behaviour in all kinds of sport.
Sadly, cheating is becoming more prevalent today and standards of sportsmanship are waning – drug-taking to enhance performance, violence on and off the pitch, even footballers biting opponents!
First test match
Rivalry in sport is not a bad thing, particularly in team games. It builds excitement and adds to the thrill of competition, but when rivalry at any price becomes an obsession, the whole point of the game is lost.
This is what happened in the first Test Match in the latest Ashes series between Australia and England at Trent Bridge. Wimbledon style technology has been introduced whereby disputed decisions can be checked. But unlike the clear-cut pictures of the ball being “in” or “out” in tennis, the technology is not yet sufficiently advanced to give clear-cut decisions in cricket.
Sadly, there were several disputed decisions of the umpires in the first test, and the technology didn’t quite show clearly what had happened. England won through the final disputed decision, but the way it happened left many people feeling that sportsmanship had lost.
Earlier in the game a player had clearly been caught but the umpire had not seen it and the limited number of challenges had already been used so the batsmen went on playing. This would have been regarded as outrageous by a former generation. It’s not cricket! It’s not behaving like a true sportsman. In fact, it’s cheating!
Watching this kind of behaviour in cricket is a sad reflection upon the lowering of moral values in the nation. When I was a boy, cheating was always despised and if someone was caught taking notes into an exam he was likely to be expelled because cheating was regarded as one of the worst things anyone could do.
It was equivalent to lying and stealing. It was taking an unfair advantage of everyone else and that kind of behaviour was regarded as despicable.
Deal or no deal
The City of London was famous for its financial integrity. Traders only had to shake hands on a deal and it was known that “their word was their bond”. You didn’t have to read the small print to detect whether or not you were being cheated.
Truth and integrity, like loyalty and faithfulness were social values that were part of the national code of morality. Those who failed to uphold such values became social outcasts. The whole of our banking and financial institutions depend upon confidence, and that confidence rests upon the upholding of moral values. In the same way industrial and commercial trade also depend upon the truth and integrity of those who make promises to buy or to deliver.
Society collapses when the moral code is not upheld. But that is precisely what is happening today which is demonstrated by the increasing number of scams, particularly through the internet.
There have been a number of cases recently that have resulted in personal tragedies for people who have booked holidays only to find that their email communications had been intercepted and their payments had gone to crooks so when they arrived at their holiday destination there was no booking and no place for them.
The internet is full of scams and deception – adverts that deceive the unwary, which pop up when you are searching for information, even Government websites – the scams are everywhere!
The telephone rings, you answer it and you are told that this is important information about a rebate that is owing to you. All you have to do to claim it is give your bank details! I wonder how many people fall for this kind of scam? Only the most vulnerable will be duped but the scammers have no morality; they don’t care who they trap and what hardship they cause.
When truth and righteousness disappear from the social horizon, the whole nation suffers.
Truth has perished
Just before a great tragedy fell upon the nation of Israel in the 6th century BC, the prophet Jeremiah warned the people that it was their own fault for turning away from the paths of righteousness that was bringing this disaster upon them. He said, “This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.”
His warnings went unheeded and Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians.
Warnings of danger
The same warnings need to be heard in Britain today because truth is vanishing and even basic standards of right and wrong are not being taught to a whole generation of children. When the moral code collapses, the social foundations of the nation crumble. That is what is happening today and unless the warning signs are heeded, some kind of social disaster will be the inevitable result. It is surely time to recognise the danger that is running right across our nation from sport to politics.
Turning the tide
If the tide is to turn, it has to begin in the home with parents teaching their children the basics of right and wrong.
If the parents don’t do it, at least the grandparents who still remember the meaning of “It’s not cricket!” should do their duty and show the children the difference between right and wrong, truth and lies, integrity and deception, faithfulness and scams.
If we don’t take note of the warning signs now, it may be too late tomorrow.