Bowling to a plan is a great idea unless of course the plan is not working. I am an avid cricket fan and although some may find this hard to take, there is a lot of cricket on at the moment. There are breathtaking strokes and catches and impressive innings even if I am the supporter of the losing side. I try not to comfort myself by saying “India would never win if we had Warner, Smith and Bancroft.” To avoid seeking such comfort I remind myself it is not how you lose that is important but how you play the game.
Back in the days when I was a cricket legend in my own lunchtime I heard the story of Brian Booth. He wrote a book like many retired cricketers do. His was called, “Booth to Bat”. Booth was a devoted Christian who, according to most, never compromised his absolutes. I am not sure if the story is apocryphal but it’s told that while batting one day he clipped his own stumps in the act of despatching a ball to the boundary. With everyone watching the ball, no one had noticed that Booth had stepped back on his stumps, but Booth knew so he left the field. Earthly umpires and oppositions can miss things but Booth knew that God doesn’t and that doing the right thing is always the best and most honourable thing even if it costs you.
Today you would be excused for thinking that God’s omniscience has been matched by the all watchful eye of the myriad number camera angles that capture every movement. When it’s only God watching you might think you can get away with things. But when the cameras are on, they do more than catch your actions. They actually expose your heart. They expose it to God and also to the watching world.
I was struck by this during Adam Gilchrist’s break of play interview with Cameron Bancroft. You may remember Cameron Bancroft as the cricketer with sand paper in his undies who was given a nine month ban for ball tampering. Whichever way you understand that last sentence it reveals foolishness and proved to be a very uncomfortable outcome for him. He was caught on camera cheating. But it was his response in the interview that many like myself found very unsettling, “Dave (Warner) suggested to me to carry the action out on the ball given the situation that we were in the game and I didn’t know any better.”
If he didn’t know better why did he hide the sandpaper? How long do you have to play cricket before you learn that rubbing the ball with sandpaper is wrong? The truth is that Cameron was not ignorant of the rules but that he just showed them a flagrant disregard in order to, as he put it, fit in. Perhaps he didn’t know better when it came to the culture that he found himself in but he could have been counter cultural and acted rightly.
Let every coach, parent and teacher note the power of Bancroft’s problem – the pressure to fit in. Cameron Bancroft teaches us all a lesson as he says “you hope that fitting in earns you respect and with that, I guess, there came a pretty big cost for the mistake.” Let every child… and adult… learn that it takes courage to change a poor culture and fitting in is not always the way of the respectable.
Brian Booth understood this. He knew that fitting in with God is often in conflict with our desire to fit in with those around us. He knew that God never misses those sandpaper moments when poor values get the upper hand. Booth had learnt that fitting in with God was a tough choice but not a mistake.Bowling to a plan is a great idea unless of course the plan is not working. A plan without God has always proven to be a plan that does not work.