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Christianity: It’s just not cricket

I KNOW it is summer when the ABC tells me cricket is on the radio.

I’m not a cricket fan. It’s a peculiar game.

I’m keener about religion than I am about cricket, because I don’t understand all the intricacies and petty rules applied by the governing cricket bodies.

That said, I was interested in the news stories when Australians began a debate about excluding the West Indies from test competition.

A proud country, successful at playing the game, was telling another country it wasn’t good enough. Two things struck me.

There’s at least one good reason why the West Indies isn’t the cricket nation it was a generation ago.

Cricket used to be a shared thing, enjoyed and understood in community. It was played in back streets and school yards for its own sake.

The West Indies has a peculiar geography. The Caribbean is no longer a British colonial outpost. Today it’s a stepping off point for the USA where professional sport provides an education or a big income.

Athletes leave cricket to play basketball, football or baseball and the results are obvious.

How does our game stack up in the seductive society of multi-cultural, multi-car, multi-faith, multiple-investment options?

How many Christians have taken their bat and ball and gone somewhere else?

Christianity isn’t the only game in town. It isn’t a game at all. Part of the problem is the way we play around with the gospel that makes Christianity unique.

In cricketing terms, the W.G. Grace approach is purely about getting runs on the board, training harder, playing better, knowing the rules and beating the competition.

Then it’s no wonder that successful players become proud and want to exclude others who don’t seem to measure up.

In gospel terms, the J.C. grace approach is very different.

It’s an honour to be chosen on the representative side and a privilege to be coached.

There’s joy in sharing the experience with all manner of players, passionately enjoying a team event (that may take an eternity to reach a conclusion).
I still think cricket is a peculiar game.

For the sake of comparison, we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people”.