Why walking is the right thing to do

Interestingly, one of the most famous 'walkers' was Adam Gilchrist, the Aussie keeper-batsman (he even called his memoirs 'Walking to Victory')

WALKER: One of the most famous ‘walkers’ was Adam Gilchrist, the Aussie keeper-batsman (he even called his memoirs ‘Walking to Victory’)

It’s not the cheating that got me, it was the feeling I had got away with it.” I’m not sure what movie that’s from (do please tell), but when I heard it I understood the meaning. The guilt, the knowledge that your victory had been sullied, that you had not played fair was all consuming.

I know many of my posts are about cricket, but it’s the world cup final tomorrow, and as the season draws to a close (mine as cricket coach, backyard player and avid watcher), I get to thinking about the old game and it’s life parallels.

For those who do not know all the ins and outs of the game, over the centuries cricket developed it’s own ‘spirit‘, as embodied by the great Sir Don Bradman (Aussie, best player ever) who had this to say on cricketers’ virtues:

“When considering the stature of an athlete or for that matter any person, I set great store in certain qualities which I believe to be essential in addition to skill. They are that the person conducts his or her life with dignity, with integrity, courage, and perhaps most of all, with modesty. These virtues are totally compatible with pride, ambition, and competitiveness. “

He also said:

‘It is the responsibility of all those that play the game (the custodians) to leave the game in a better state than when they first became involved’.

Bradman was by all accounts a genius, extremely argumentative and loved nothing more than “grinding the English into the dust”. He was not the most likable chap, he was very competitive. He ended up with a test batting average of almost 100, way above all over players (the next best are in the low 60s; a ‘great’ batsman is considered such if their average tops 50.) But to him conduct, integrity and leaving the game ‘in a better state’ was the most important thing.

I have played cricket in England, Singapore and Australia, and one thing that sets your average weekend English social cricketer apart from their Aussie counterpart is the issue of ‘walking‘.

Imagine you’ve just nicked the ball off your bat’s edge (you’ve heard it, everyone has) and it goes through to be caught by the keeper. Most Englishmen will walk, knowing they are out, just as if their stumps had been knocked over or if the ball had been cleanly caught by an outfielder. It’s clearly out. Why hang around like a goose? You just look stupid. To wait around and hope the umpire might somehow miss the edge (knowing you’re out) is tantamount to cheating. In fact, it is cheating. In the rules, you’re out, fair and square. Walk off.

To an Aussie though, this last paragraph is pure heresy. “Umpire’s got a job to do mate,” they say, “they make mistakes, so do we as players, often I’ve been given out when I wasn’t so I’m not moving if I know I’m out; I’m waiting for the umpire to give me out.”

OK, I get the logic, but you wouldn’t wait around if you were clean bowled, run out by a mile, played on, or had been caught out by an outfielder, or even a slip or gully would you … so what’s the difference between a clear nick to the keeper, that you know is out?

The difference is that you’re trying to get away it. You’re trying to cheat. By the rules you are out, but you are hoping to stay. You felt the ball snick the edge of your bat (believe me, batsmen know 99% of the time). So go. Umpires usually give the batsman the benefit of the doubt anyway, and it’s this that the non-walker is preying (praying!) on. It’s out and out cheating.

If the situation was reversed, and you heard the nick, you’d be giving the batsman all sorts of abuse if they stayed around. So you’re being two-faced as well.

The same goes for appealing for catches, run outs or LBWs that you know are not out, in the hope the umpire might get it wrong.

If you walk every time, you are not going to be given out as much by umpires (after all, when you nick it, you walk). I walked, and I can’t remember ever being given out incorrectly for a nick behind. A few dodgy LBWs perhaps (edged into the pads) but then again how many were given not out when they may have been? No one walks on LBWs, but on everything else bar a mighty close run out when you’re not sure as you’re diving your ground, get out of there.

I also quite liked the abrupt turn and move off the pitch, as if to say “Yep, good ball, I got that wrong, I’m out of here”. I played hard, I played fair. (I could get annoyed with myself in the sanctity of the changing rooms, but I would be dignified in my public exit!)

Afterwards, you know you’ve done the right thing. You’ve set the right example. To yourself, the team, opposition, spectators and your children. Winning fairly is a great feeling, when you’ve played well. Winning on a cheat is not winning. Losing on a cheat is utterly galling, but never lower yourself to those standards.

What’s true in sport is the same in business, love and life generally.

I’m as competitive as the next bloke, but I see ‘not walking’ as clear cheating. Always have, always will. I lose respect for anyone who does not walk (they look ridiculous when DRS proves them wrong), and I think less of them. I’m a walker, are you ..?

Another thing happened at Stirling Station

I often take the train from Stirling Station into work in the city, but I was not there earlier this week when a commuter got his leg stuck in the gap between the edge of the platform and the train. (see video above, or click here).

Poor chap – he was one of the last onto a packed train, and stood on the door opening, only to slide down and get lodged. He could not free himself, but within minutes all the passengers got off the train and without any fuss carefully pushed it over so he could get his leg out. All ended happily, and he walked free, a little bemused and embarrassed and took the next train into work.

Such is the speed of our human connectivity, the video and the news of the escape shot around the country being featured on all the WA and Aussie media outlets such as ABC, and then off around the world including the UK, Iran, India and Russia.

About a week earlier I was standing on the same platform, waiting for a train to work. As the crowds gathered in the gloomy light, the train arrived, completely packed. Hardly anyone got off, so hardly anyone could get on. Me, and about 200 people had to let it pass. Another came and went. Same story. I wondered why Transperth would be putting on so few trains (and only 3 or 4 carriages per train) at rush hour when there were so many people waiting at our station? Then a familiar voice said ‘hello’ and it was Chris Baudia, CEO of GeoMoby – a Perth based tech startup company. We squeezed onto the next train, and had a quick catch up. Chris has recently flown to Seoul and won a global hackathon – yes, won the whole dang thing, against 2000 participants from all over the world no less. A few days later I am standing in the kitchen at Spacecubed (the centre of the start-up community in Perth), and I notice Chris’ award tamely sitting there on a side table. Such a modest fellow, our Chris.

So, here’s to Chris, GeoMoby and the spirit of the start-ups. They do amazing things, with no budget, and are forever pushing envelopes. And here’s to the wonderful Perth people who pushed the train together to free that guy at Stirling station. As an Iranian said on a blog regarding the incident: “Aussies are good when it comes to working together to get something done, even if its (sic) something unplanned and needs to be done immediately.

My only quibble – do you think Transperth could lay on more or longer trains so people don’t have to be crammed onto them? It would prevent someone getting their leg stuck again (or worse), and the ridiculous waste of time waiting for a 3rd train before having a hope of getting on. Too much to ask…?

The airport lounge waterfall

March 22nd, 2010, Perth. The largest storm in 50 years tears through suburbia leaving a $100mn clean up operation. The largest hail stones ever witnessed in Perth (upwards of 6cm wide) fell with relentless force in under an hour, knocking out power to 150,000 homes. In some areas 55mm of rain fell in one hour, some places experienced 27mm deluges in under 10 minutes.

All of this was behind me as I drove eastwards out to the Perth domestic airport to catch my flight to Kalgoorlie. A 5pm flight was due to get me in the mining town an hour later, giving me a few hours to wander through the place before my training day the next morning. I could see there was a storm coming, but was only to know later that my colleagues’ cars left in the carbays at work were to be ruined by hailstones the size of golf balls, which pummelled everything in their path, stripping trees of their leaves which blocked drains and quickly led to flooding. The commute home for many was going to be a terrible one that evening.

Meanwhile at the airport, I parked in the long term carbays and tossed up whether I would walk to the terminal, but seeing the oncoming dark clouds wisely plumped for the shuttle bus. It was about then the storm hit the airport, and 5 minutes later I dived in to the building to check in and offload the baggage. You could hear the storm the overhead and guessed we’d be delayed, but it was about 20 minutes later I saw the roof start to collapse inwards, and water pour in at various places. I was wondering if the planes were OK. Meanwhile, the lounge bar quickly gained an unplanned waterfall (see picture). Within minutes we were evacuated out of the building, and 5 hours later allowed back in to take our flight. I arrived at my Kalgoorlie hotel 6 hours late, only to find out they have messed up my booking. I think I got a room sometime around 2am.

I’ll never forget that day, as will few others who experienced it. On returning to Perth a few days later, the damage done by a ferocious hail storm was incredible to see. Pock marked cars were everywhere, car garages were giving away hail-damaged cars at ridiculous prices. Repair shops had months of queues. Leaves were piled up and strewn over the roads. Carports were down, windows smashed.

More pix on the storm here; video taken a few streets away from our office (amazing to think this is 4pm in the afternoon) here.

Labour Day

It’s labour day long weekend (I love how most public holidays fall on Mondays in this country!).

“Labour Day” conjures up a few things in my mind – to my wife it probably brings back memories of a 14-hour labour for our first born, to me that too, but also there are images of Red Square in Moscow and those Soviet day march pasts, with ageing rugged up Communistas waving to the frozen masses below behind grey slate walls.  That’s May Day I suppose?

Labour Day in Western Australia is the first Monday in March, and is supposed to celebrate the drive for the 8-hour working day (8 hours work, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours sleep). Which reminds me of something someone wiser than me once said: “your life is like a 3-legged stool. One leg is for work, one leg is for your family & friends, and the third leg is yourself. If any one leg is neglected, the whole stool topples over.” So have a balanced life – time for yourself, time for your family/friends, and time for work.

Amen. And on this labour day, may I say “Oop the workers!”

Image: from Labour of Love

So many SUVs

I am sure there are some people doing it tough out there, but from what I witnessed at the weekend, ‘we’ (the general working family population of Western Australia) have never had it so good and quite a few are doing OK …

We live opposite a lovely park, which has a lake, children’s playground, barbecue pits, you know the sort of thing. It’s not the richest neighbourhood by any means, but we fell in love with the neighbourhood the day we drive through it on the way somewhere, and were delighted when a cute house came up for sale a few weeks later. We jumped at it and have lived there ever since. Every year, a kid’s concert occurs at the park, with bouncy castles, Dora the Explorer shows, camel rides and such. This year, it seemed to attract more people than ever, and although the signs along the fringe of the park clearly say ‘no stopping’, before too long there is a jam of vehicles diagonally parked up alongside each all the way around the park’s verge, and outside on the front of our house too.

And so this was the sight that beheld me as I popped my head up over my gate, stretching to myself as I surveyed the scene over the weekend gardening activites. Row after row of some of the cleanest, largest, shiniest, priciest SUVs you have ever seen. One after another, no joke. In most cases, the ‘working families’ alighting from these wagons had 2 or 3 young children each, were in the early 30s and the cars they drove were probably one of two in the household. Porsche Cayennes, Toyota Klugers, BMW X5s (not X3s, X5s), Audi Q5s … not your regular schmutter, these were $80-$120k borgeous mobiles.

Good on yer I say, but it made me stop and wonder what we now take for granted, how well we are doing really and it certainly contrasted to the poxy Ford Cortina my Dad used to drive us around in all those years ago.

Australia Day

Like millions of others across this sun-baked land, I am recovering from Australia Day. 26th January is a public holiday here, and traditionally it’s stinking hot (the mercury hit 40C yesterday), the cricket’s on the telly (the Aussies belting the Indians), the food, drink and merriment flow, and you tend to regret some of it the next morning.

And so it came to pass. This year, it also coincided with Chinese New Year, and as it was our turn to host, we had 30 people round to our place for the usual mountain of Chinese food. As has also become customary, the ladies were in the kitchen cooking up a storm talking excitedly to each other in ever increasing decibels. The kids, all dressed in their Chinese silks, looked very cute watching a Pixar DVD, and the guys took to outside (where it was crazy hot) starting on a few beers only to transgress into a little too much red wine. After lunch, the guys and the kids piled into the pool, while the ladies cleared away the dining table and raucous games of mahjong ensued. 7 hours after it all started, we all trudged off to a high vantage point to look down on the ‘Skyworks’ fireworks display over the city, where we were treated to a second fireworks display with a massive lighting storm to the north east. Half way through it chucked it down, so we trudged back like drowned rats.

Happy birthday Australia.