The test series against New Zealand starts on Wednesday evening so Chris Silverwood and Joe Root will be preparing their first team talks of this new era. Will they make the squad sing an updated rendition of “Onward Gower’s Soldiers, Marching Into War” – the infamous motivational technique used by Ted Dexter ahead of the 1989 Ashes – or will they simply find some inspiring quotes from sportsmen and sportswomen to rally the troops? My money is probably on the latter.
So with this in mind, here are my 10 favourite inspirational cricket quotes to make you all go ‘ahhhh’ and ‘ooooh’ whilst stroking your chin philosophically. I’ve added a couple of funnies at the end in case it all gets too thought provoking.
“Every batsman surveys the field before taking strike, and usually the fielders get imprinted on his mind. They can almost see every fielder in their mind’s eye. But in my head, I don’t see the fielders. I only see the gaps!” – Ricky Ponting.
“Captaincy is 90 percent luck and 10 percent skill. But don’t try it without that 10 percent.” – Richie Benaud.
“Cricket is a most precarious profession; it is called a team game but, in fact, no one is so lonely as a batsman facing a bowler supported by ten fieldsmen and observed by two umpires to ensure that his error does not go unpunished” – John Arlott.
“One-day cricket is an exhibition. Test cricket is an examination” – Henry Blofeld.
“I think we judge talent wrong. What do we see as talent? We judge talent by people’s ability to strike a cricket ball. The sweetness and the timing – that’s all we see. But things like determination, courage, discipline, temperament, these are also talent” – Rahul Dravid.
“Cricket is full of theorists who can ruin your game in no time” – Ian Botham.
“No one smells the leather in defence better than Pujara. You can ask him if it’s Christian Dior or Armani” – Ravi Shastri.
“The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity” – George Bernard Shaw.
“It’s not over till the fat laddie spins” – The Sun’s famous headline about Shane Warne.
“A fart competing with thunder.” Graham Gooch looks back at England’s hopeless 1990-91 Ashes team.
I’d love to hear your favourite inspirational cricket quotes too. I did a little research for this piece and found that cricket didn’t have as many profound quotes as I’d thought it would – especially as cricket is such a cerebral game with a long history.
Most of the supposedly inspirational cricket quotes I found online were too predictable or cheesy to include here. In fact, if you Google ‘cricket quotes’ most of the ones that come up are just banal things uttered by Sachin Tendulkar. In other words, they were ordinary things said by great cricketers rather than great things said by ordinary cricketers. In fact, that last sentence was probably more profound than most of the stuff I unearthed.
Don’t be afraid to broaden it out and add quotes from other sports in the comments beneath too. My personal favourites are Evander Holyfield’s “It’s not the size of the man but the size of his heart that matters”, and Martina Navratilova’s “Whoever said ‘it’s not whether you win or lose’ probably lost”. Somehow I can imagine Steve Waugh or Allan Border saying the latter.
Don’t forget to check out yesterday’s preview of the first test.
PS Forgive me if you see ads for The Labour Party on this site today. Our ads are run by a 3rd party network so they’re somewhat out of my control. TFT is proudly politically neutral so we do not endorse these ads whatsoever. We have asked our network to remove all political ads (indeed they had set up a filter to exclude anything labelled as political) but somehow these Labour ads are sneaking through the net. Hmmmmm. I’ve ask our partners to ban these ads immediately.
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“It seems less disturbing to lose with the young and restless than the tried and
Clive Bacchus, a West Indies’ broadcaster, on the demise of West Indies test cricket.
That’s a good one!
George Bernard Shaw does it for me!
Tony Greig’s ‘make ’em grovel’ speech when the West Indies were approaching their prime has to be one of the most infamous ever. I don’t think he ever lived it down. I think we lost the series 5-0 and he was yorked by Andy Roberts or Michael Holding very early in his first innings of that series and it never got much better. If you need to motivate 5 fast bowlers that’s the way to do it.
I still can’t believe he was yorked! I’m surprised he received any deliveries in his own half after saying that :-)
As the bat always looked like a kids toy in his hands I’m surprised it didn’t happen more often. There was always a massive gap between it and the ground as he patted fresh air. Was funny watching him bat with Knotty, as so often happened. They looked like father and son in a club team when they got together for mid pitch conflabs. Knotty scampered his quick runs whilst Grieg took a few steps to get to other end. I’m sure Knott must have used up twice the energy in their partnerships.
‘The Cricket War’ is very interesting on Greig.
Kerry Packer flew to the Caribbean on Concorde to sign up the West Indies for WSC. They managed to get over the ‘grovel’ comment by the looks of how quickly they signed. Funny how people who put the verbal boot into modern West Indian ‘mercenaries’ get amnesia about pretty much all the greats signed up for Packer (even Sobers had an honorary role – only Kallicharran pulled out and Marshall was just too young).
Henry Blofeld in his book on Packer more or less implied Greig was mad because he had epilepsy (most of the press knew Greig had the condition although it wasn’t declared in the media). Behind that “my dear old thing” facade, Blofeld was not the most pleasant of men.
BTW, those who worship Richie Benaud tend to forget not only his role in WSC but that he was instrumental in organising the 1976 International Wanderers’ tour to SA in 1976.
(P.S. I’m not saying this to be anti-WSC, just pointing out some double standards and a few things that aren’t often acknowledged. I get particularly sick of people who live comfortable lives criticising West Indies’ players when they’ve no idea what life is like over there).
I don’t think you can use epilepsy as an excuse for Greig’s controversial outbursts. He loved being provocative. It’s part of what made him such a competitive and successful cricketer and why he was so drawn to the more confrontational Aussie style approach to the game.
Personally I always liked him as a cricketer and captain. He led from the front, no committees for him. If things got tough he wasn’t afraid to put himself in the firing line with bat or ball.
“World XI at one end, Ilford Seconds at the other” is one that was not only from a great or at least very good cricketer, but pretty inspirational as well
“Its Red, Round and weighs about 5 ounces, now hit it”. Mr Thomas seem to have some real motivational skills…
Brian Johnston: The Bowler is Holding the batsman’s Willy.
Aggers: The batsman couldn’t get his leg over.
And the ‘caught Short in front of the pavillion’. God I miss that TMS team.
John Arlott during a Sunday League match when Gladstone Small was bowling to Chris Broad:
“The bowler’s Small but the bat is Broad”.
Richie Benaud in the 1993 Headingley Test when Fanie De Villiers (nickname ‘Fast Fanie’) was enjoying “a frank exchange of views” with the Western Terrace which didn’t take much lip-reading:
“Fast Fanie – that’s three Fs”.
Benaud again during the Gooch 333 Test when an obviously sozzled MCC member was caught leaning into the ear of a female camera operator:
“There’s chatting… and there’s chatting up”.