Thursday, 8 December 2016

Maintaining standards!

I understand that cricket is going through a behaviour crisis. One part of a report says, “The decline in behaviour in the recreational game is having an adverse effect on the availability and willingness of people wanting to stand as umpires." And so there is a plan to introduce a red-card penalty into the laws of cricket, giving umpires the power to send off a player in the most extreme cases of on-field breaches of discipline. They want to be able to give red cards for “threatening an umpire, physically assaulting another player, umpire, official or spectator, or any other act of violence on the field of play”. Do such things really go on on the cricket pitch?

Who knew that things could come to such a pretty pass? Cricket has always seemed to me such a gentlemanly game. Of course, I am still thinking of long-lasting games on the greensward, with players in their cricket whites, ladies in sunhats and sunglasses watching the proceedings, perhaps doing their knitting or reading a novel in the quiet times, and a genteel tea being served to players and spectators at some point half way through the game.

And now, of course, we have teams who play in all sorts of colours and, apparently, there is bad behaviour on the pitch. It's rather like having people boo at Wimbledon, something which has also happened. Cricket and tennis always used to be above that sort of behaviour! Such a shame!

One of the sixth form colleges where I used to work introduced a red-card system as part of disciplinary practice. Students who were frequently absent or late, failed to pull their weight in class or to complete homework assignments, or committed much more heinous crimes were given a yellow card as a warning and then a red card if they failed to improve. Continued failure to improve could, in the end, lead to suspension or, in extreme cases, expulsion. Mostly it seemed to work. Sixth form colleges, after all, are made up largely of youngsters who have chosen to be there. Some have had their arms twisted by parents to persuade them to attend but, on the whole, they are voluntary and just need a bit of a reminder to stay on the straight and narrow. But if you can't rebel a little when you are in your mid to late teens, then it's a poor do. Most of us have to conform to life's expectations for such a long time after the teenage years are over!

As regards conforming, we should try to keep up good old British traditions, such as dunking biscuits in cups of tea and coffee. Once long ago, returning from a college trip to Spain with a bunch of students and teachers, I sat in an airport cafe, possibly at Barcelona, absentmindedly dunking my breakfast croissant in my coffee - actually a very French thing as well as a British thing. One of the younger teachers looked at me in horror, unable to believe that a respectable, fairly senior teacher could be setting such a poor example. And yet it is such a quintessentially British thing to do. However, according to this article the custom may be in danger of dying out because too many people are buying inferior imported American biscuits such as Oreos instead of good old British digestive and rich tea biscuits.

It's just not cricket!

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