Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. Men, all this stuff you’ve heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans, love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers … Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The Bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post, don’t know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating. Now we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know … My God, I actually pity those poor bastards we’re going up against. My God, I do. We’re not just going to shoot the bastards, we’re going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel. Now some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you’ll chicken out under fire. Don’t worry about it. I can assure you that you’ll all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood, shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo, that a moment before was your best friends face, you’ll know what to do. Now there’s another thing I want you to remember. I don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We’re not holding anything, we’ll let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly, and we’re not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We’re going to hold onto him by the nose, and we’re going to kick him in the ass. We’re going to kick the hell out of him all the time, and we’re going to go through him like crap through a goose. Now, there’s one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, What did you do in the great World War Two? You won’t have to say, Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana. Alright now, you sons of bitches, you know how I feel. I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere. That’s all.
Cricket, is not dissimilar to war. Everyone’s playing for pride. And to win. And yet, the difference is that it has a marketing audience. Us.
Ideally, we love our champions clean. Those that reach the pinnacle of greatness with their honour intact and without smudging their respective countries. For thats the idea of sport. The true test of Faster, Higher, Further. The best of the best. The Don. Sir Gary. Sir Richard Hadlee.
Occassionally though, we’ll settle as a spectacle for second best : that fighter who might not always win, but will try till his last drop; even if its without too much principle. And thats when it gets grey. When biases and prejudices come in. Somebody always identifies with him. Everyone has an opinion about Javed Miandad and Steve Waugh.
Everyone that falls within these two categories in varying degrees over time qualifies as our hero. Passes the Patton doctrine, so to speak.
The ones that don’t make it are the ones that don’t perform and are seen by some or all of the marketing audience and/or the players themselves as neither willing to fight nor with the scruples. Or unable to maintain the balance between the two.
In this Trent Bridge Test, a number of players from both sides came close enough to crossing the scruples line. Some came back in the game – performed and fought.
Others will need to step up and do so quite soon. Matt Prior and Sreesanth come to mind.