Pep Talk for Michael Clarke


A few days ago the Australian Cricket team suffered a most embarrassing and potentially demoralizing defeat at the hands of England. If I could, I would love to give Michael Clarke and his team a little Pep Talk.

Note: To US readers just pretend this is about baseball, for now is not the time to explain the rules of this wonderful game. But as I know you like beating England, please read on.

The Aussie Ashes team, led by the its brave captain faced a massive task of overhauling its nemesis in the final innings of the second Test Match at Lords. While the newspaper and armchair critics have (and will) go on and on about the lack of talent, skill, technique and fortitude, from my viewpoint the defeat had already taken place in the minds of the players well before they walked onto the pitch.

The great philosopher Bryan Davenport once said “The facts are… but the truth is”.

The facts facing the Australian batting line up were that no team in the history of Test match cricket had ever scored more than 418 to win a match… and they were facing the mammoth task of 583.

So of course no one expected them to reach that zenith… and the team, under the weight of so many historical facts, figures and opinions, crumbled to pieces, rarely making the first rise of the hill, with a meager score of 235.

The team believed what the whole cricketing world had told them. They accepted the persuasive and indisputable facts or perhaps better said, they gave in to them.

But if the facts were unknown to them… if the players woke up on the day of battle without any knowledge of previous run chases… being totally unaware that no one had ever attempted to score a second innings 583 to win the match, what would their mindset have been? And or, how much further would they have made it in their climb to reach that number? And dare I say it… could they have made the impossible a little more… or even actually… possible?

It is amazing what we can achieve when we don’t dwell on what is impossible.

I am currently living very near the coast and this morning a heavy layer of fog enveloped our entire neighborhood. And as I took my early morning walk I could see no further than 50 yards or so in front of me. This was at around 6.30 am. It is now 9.30 am and nothing has really changed. In some ways the fog reflects many of the circumstances in my life. At first glance it can be quite oppressive and while it is supposed to be summer (a time of harvest) it is quite damp and a little chilly.

But I decided to play a mind game with myself as I plodded round the mesa. What if I didn’t have all this stress weighing on my shoulders, and what if, for a day I could put all that aside, and if so… what would I do differently today?

In essence I am asking myself, if I have all that I need and can turn off all the voices of debt, of lack, of doubt, of pessimism, of being adrift… what would I do with this day. And that answer is simple. I would do what I am suppose to do… I would live the day to its fullest… just being me, the writer, songwriter, husband, Dad, neighbor. A cheesy sentence perhaps, but in my heart I know who I am, I know the people that I am to love, I know what my job is… and so I decided early this morning, at least for today that I would trundle off to the ‘house sit’ (almost skipping) and get on with it.

Yes the facts facing my eyes are that I am in a fog and if I dwell on these circumstance my mind remains fogged up. But the truth is, above the fog the sun is shining… and guess what… the sun will burn this fog off in an hour or so… as it will, in due time, my circumstances.

And so to Michael Clarke and team, despite what all the ex-players, coaches, media experts, newspaper columnists and armchair critics say about your recent performance and or their predictions for your forthcoming test matches, you and the guys can turn this around.

But first you have to stop listening to these voices. These are the people that think it is helpful to tell a fat person he/she is fat.

These are the same voices that reminded everyone  (ad nauseam) that the world was flat.

If no one had ever dared to shut these voices out of their head then we would still be living in the dark ages and very little of what we take for granted to today would ever have been considered, let alone invented or discovered and then developed. Our current world would not exist.

Thankfully a few mathematicians like Aristarxus, Thales, Earatosthenes and Galileo begged to differ and eventually someone asked the question… “What could I do if the world wasn’t flat… hmmm… maybe I’d sail around it?” And sail around it one Fernando or Hernando de Magallanes did in 1520.

And so Captain Clarke, while you may think my mind is full of fairy dust, you and your team can re-write history if you stop dwelling on the facts. Pretend for a day that you are the first team to ever play for Australia against England, and while there are rules governing the way the game is played, there is no limit to the amount of runs you can score in either the first or second innings…and that you have permission (you have mine at least) to score 500 runs on any given day.

I’m going off to write a song or two… perhaps a whole album… might even try a concerto tomorrow… working towards a symphony next week.
“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’

I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!”
Lewis Carroll

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