Steve Smith has two centuries and averages 48 since the fourth Test of the 2019 Ashes – far from the performances we have become…
In cricketing terms, we’re 2-0 in recent news.
First Rod Marsh departs, then Shane Warne, both lives cut shorter than they should have been. Warne’s cut off in his prime.
When someone greatly revered dies, it’s inevitable that there’s a sense of loss associated with it even if we never knew the person.
I never got to meet Warnie in person, short of a begrudging swish of pen on my nervous paper. I never particularly liked Warnie as a person because of the way he conducted himself off the field, but I would always try to emulate his action in the nets.
The sense of loss that comes from a famous person’s passing causes each one of us to ask: “What legacy are we leaving behind?”
For Rod Marsh, his was a legacy of toughness. Copping criticism when he first came into the side for not being a terribly elegant wicket-keeper, he helped rebuild the side through the rebel South African tours and was a mainstay behind the stumps and in the middle order for 14 years.
He took wicket-keeping to new heights as the first Australian wicket-keeper to score a hundred.
The word ‘larrikin’ suitably describes Shane Warne.
Whether wooing women off the field, taking money for match fixing or his drug suspension, Warne’s off-field reputation was that of a bad boy. When on the field, he mastered the mystery art of gripping a 23-centimetre leather ball, gripping and placing it with precision to bamboozle even the best players of spin bowling.
What now? How do we remember these two uniquely different characters of the game?
Well, for starters, we remember their goodness on the field. We want to imagine that the goodness in their cricketing life has led them to some sort of happy place after death. After all, humanity is inherently good, isn’t it?
We also overlook not-so-savoury sections of their past. We ignore Rod Marsh’s abrasiveness on the field. We gloss over Warnie’s many scandals. We choose not to delve into these unsavoury sections to remember fondly what they were like.
The reality is that both goodness and badness are contained within each one of us. Who knows what we might have done if we had been called up early in our careers, been called ‘the next big thing’ and had an ego the size of a jet plane.
We, too, might have succumbed to the same desires that Shane Warne did, and only our pride forbids us from acknowledging that.
One thing is for sure that in these times of memorial: reflecting on the whole of a person’s life proves instructive to us. If life after death exists, then we should use these moments to become better people ourselves, to instruct our kids and grandkids in the way that the world works so that they can become better people.
If life after death exists, then perhaps we ought to devote ourselves to acquiring it?
Vale Warne and Marsh. We might never know exactly where they are now, but we can reflect on their lives to make us better cricketers and people.
Neither Warne nor Marsh seemed to find the secret to happiness whilst here on earth, and who knows if they’ve found it now.
Regardless, we can take on Warnie’s thirst for life and mix it with Marsh’s toughness and live our lives to the best of our ability.
However we choose to live, all of us need to remember that life is not about us. The Golden Rule, passed down from the One who knows it all, sums it up, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Marsh and Warne’s legacies will live on, even if they do not, as testament to how they played the game.