A major part of the reason that international sportsmen sometimes become alienated from the rest of us ‘normal’ people is because we don’t ‘understand’.
We don’t understand what it feels like to face the final ball of the match needing four to win. We don’t know what it feels like to face bowling at 140 kilometres an hour. Hell, we don’t even know what it feels like to pull a national team shirt on, let alone walk onto the field in front of 30,000 cheering fans.
And yet we judge the players because that is what we pay our money for. The right to be judge and jury. The players hate it, of course, and they are right to hate it. But as long as it relates to bat and ball then neither side should complain too hard.
Just the other day a friend ventured the opinion that Sanath Jayasuriya was ‘over-rated’ and that his tour of South Africa had been ‘spineless’ and that by the time the 3rd Test at Centurion rolled around, he was ‘broken’.
And what’s more, my mate said, ‘you could see it.’
There is no doubt that Jayasuriya had a horrible tour, failing to reach 30 in a single Test innings and producing just one worthwhile innings in the one-dayers. And it is true, too, that he looked pretty shattered at Centurion.
Three days before the Centurion Test the Sri Lankan captain’s brother suffered a serious heart attack. Less than two days before the Test his wife miscarried their child. And there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it.
No wonder he was gutted.
That’s the trouble with ‘judging’ from a distance. It’s our right to judge a player’s performance, but not to judge the reasons why. Unless we’re damn sure of them, of course.
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