News again – in Australia, today – of a father of two severely injured by a single blow to the head.
It seems that every few weeks someone gets “king hit” somewhere or other, and ends up hitting their head on a kerb stone or the ground and either killed or severely injured.
I have written before about the dangerously casual acceptance of violent behaviour that now seems pervasive in society, and the fact that people everywhere, young men especially, need to understand that a single blow thrown in anger can ruin lives, including their own.
I blame both the acceptance of violence fostered by living in a society where violence is normalised through endless coverage of armed conflicts, (not to mention the ready use of armed conflict to resolve disputes), and also where scenes of violence are commonplace (but sanitised) in innumerable movies and TV shows. And also where what I call societal violence – allowing entire families to fall through any concept of a social safety net – is accepted with little comment across the political spectrum – where concern for those less able or less well off than ourselves has somehow become daggy and unfashionable. Where breast beating ferocity meets any attempt to devise a society which is fairer or more caring.
Violent behaviour of any sort should never be acceptable. Not everything about the “good old days” has been airbrushed in retrospect. There is little doubt in my mind – no, make that no doubt – that society is more violent in many ways than it was in my youth, in terms of casual violence against the person, rather than formal violent crime.
Yes, of course there was violence back then too – I just missed the “mods and rockers” era but remember full well what it was like to attend a football match with 20,000 skinheads. But those social movements were transient, and have largely been left behind us. Sadly, though, what has replaced them is a world where no one seems surprised to see someone – anyone – throw a punch, or react with fury, sometimes to the mildest of stimuli, in a vast range of environments. The prevalence of “road rage”, for example is just one example, where one is frightened to remonstrate no matter how politely with another’s poor driving for fear of inviting a tyre lever through the windscreen or worse.
The answer? Well, it’s a cultural issue, of course. It’s not about enforcement or interdiction. Young people simply need to be brought up to respect the values of a peaceable passage through this world, and to instinctively reject violence as a means of navigating their way through life, instead of instinctively resorting to it. And older people need to be reminded that the mores of their youth had real value.
I balance that miserable little diatribe, however, with this great story from the UK, that a young cricketer has just become one of a remarkably elite group of players – only four previously, in the whole history of the game – to hit six sixes in an over in a competitive (professional grade) cricket match. Step forward, Lancashire’s Jordan Clark .
The English county club said in a statement on Wednesday that the 22-year-old had achieved the astonishing feat in a Championship Second XI game against Yorkshire to join an illustrious list of names.
For Americans reading this blog – or anyone else who doesn’t have a clue about cricket – a “six” is the highest scoring shot a player can achieve on any one ball: banging the ball right out of the playing area without it bouncing on the ground, for a score of six points (called “runs” in cricket). A bit like a home run in baseball, if that helps.
There are six balls bowled in each “end” or “over”, a subdivision of the game after which play moves to the other end of the pitch for six balls, then back again, and so on.
(And so on ad infinitum, some would say, especially those who don’t enjoy the fine nuances of the game.)
So for someone to score six sixes in an over is unbelievably difficult, a freak occurrence. Like one player hitting six home runs in a row. Most players would be glad for just the occasional six in their entire batting performance, no matter how many hours that may last, let alone six sixes in one over.
Anyhow, as you can see in this wonderful piece of classic TV, former West Indies all-rounder Garfield Sobers was the first man to do it, against Glamorgan in 1968, and Indian Ravi Shastri followed suit in 1985.
South Africa opener Herschelle Gibbs smashed six sixes in an over at the 2007 World Cup and Indian Yuvraj Singh did the same at the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup the same year.
If young Mr Clark does as well as those names, he will have a hell of a career.
Just a moment after the sinking of the teeth. Photo: AFP
I had thought to spend some time today yammering about – in the context of my mental meanderings on societal violence – Luis Suarez’s just announced ten match ban from the Premier League for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in last weekend’s English Premier League match at Anfield.
Liverpool were quick to react, with managing director Ian Ayre declaring: “Both the club and player are shocked and disappointed at the severity of today’s Independent Regulatory Commission decision.”
And then I decided, bugger it, I really can’t be bothered to talk at length about the obnoxious Suarez, or even my distress that Liverpool’s reaction wasn’t “Yup, he deserved it, and we’ve sacked the little twat.”
Especially since this is just the latest in a series of incidents from this astoundingly gifted but serially idiotic young man. Last year, remember, the FA banned him for eight matches and imposed a £40,000 ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. And in 2010 let us not forget he was previously suspended for seven matches in the Netherlands when he sank his teeth into PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal, leading to him being dubbed the “Cannibal of Ajax”. Should punishments escalate for repeated behaviour? Yes, they should, Mr Ayre.
So. Well done Jordan Clark, enjoy your moment. And Luis Suarez? Read the start of this article, and ponder. Long and hard. Do you want to be remembered as the finest attacking player of your generation, or just as an out-of-control infant? Hmmm?