And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
Joel, Chapter 2, verse 28 (The Bible, King James Version)
I can convince myself of anything, and often do. But I have a safety valve: I don’t take my own propaganda seriously; I don’t mind being wrong; I don’t mind “failing”, as long as I learn; I’m happy to “lurch from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”
For example, I can convince myself that Liverpool has a real chance of winning the Premiership for the first time this year. I can say to myself: it’s nearly the halfway point of the season, Liverpool is nine points behind Manchester United, but with a game in hand; give Liverpool a win in the game in hand and all that separates Liverpool from Manchester United is six points. Which means that if Liverpool had won the game against United, they would be level on points with the league leaders at the halfway stage. And since I watched the game, and I know how close it was, I would have been able to convince myself.
That’s how it was at half-time at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul a few years ago; I was there with my son Isaac, and Liverpool were looking down the barrel, 3-0 down to AC Milan. But there was hope in our hearts. [Hope that was not misplaced, as Liverpool came back to win.]
Hope. Not just my youngest daughter’s name (for completeness’s sake, my eldest and firstborn is called Orla), but something I have been privileged to have for most of my life. Sometimes forlorn, sometimes misbegotten, sometimes misplaced, but always there.
Over the years, I guess I’ve learnt to temper my hope with pragmatism; not by stopping hoping, but by having a feedback loop and a learning mechanism to train and modify the hope, and to replenish it regularly. You could say I’ve moved from being a young man seeing visions to an old one dreaming dreams.
So. On to the Melbourne Test. How can I make myself believe that India can win, having to score 499 runs after managing less than 200 last time around? Here we go:
- Someone has scored over 499 before, in an away Test match, against difficult opposition. England scored 654 in their 4th innings against South Africa, in Durban, in 1938-39.
- Of the ten highest 4th innings Test scores ever, FIVE were against Australia.
- Of the ten highest 4th innings Test scores ever, an amazing EIGHT were scored by the away team.
- India scored TWO out of the top five. Ever.
- Six of the top ten highest 4th innings scores were achieved in the last 30 years.
- The last entrant into the top 10 was a year ago. Against Australia. In Australia.[It was Sri Lanka].
- India already has the second-highest 4th innings winning total ever.
- Both India and Australia will remember this Test. Nine of the players currently in Melbourne played the Eden Gardens wonder test: three Australian, six Indian. [Hayden, Ponting, Gilchrist, Dravid, Ganguly, Tendulkar, Laxman, Zaheer, Harbhajan]
- It boils down to being able to bat for two days.
- It boils down to dreaming dreams and seeing visions: What dreams do those nine players have? What visions do the other 13 have?
Convinced? Well, I tried. I shall follow the last two days with hope in my heart. Hoping that there is a last day. [Incidentally, people laughed at me when I bought tickets for the 5th day of the 5th Ashes Test a few years ago, for September 12th at the Oval. I was there. With hope in my heart.]
I am sure my Australian readers, led by Aqualung, will revel in pointing out to me tomorrow how wrong I was. If they get the chance. But then there’s no point my writing this after tomorrow’s play, that’s not blogging.
Blogging is provisional. It involves making yourself vulnerable, taking risk. Otherwise it’s reporting.
[Incidentally, Ric, I know you really appreciate cricket, that you mean what you say when you comment on “wanting to see play on the fifth day”. I know that with you, this will not become a jingoistic conversation about cricket or football. And I appreciate that].
This post, in case you haven’t figured it out, isn’t really about cricket. Or about football. Or even about sport.
It’s about seeing visions. And dreaming dreams. And not being scared.
On the verge of another new year, I’d like to wish all of you everything you need to dream dreams and to see visions. MSM is characterised by reportage on doom, gloom, cataclysms and disasters, failures and crashes. Bad news sells. And I’m not prepared to buy it any more. [Reminds me of how moved I was, as a youth, when I first heard 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night by Simon and Garfunkel all those years ago].
We have an opportunity. For ourselves and for the generations to follow. That we will use emergent media to build each other up, to encourage each other. That we will look at emergent media in the context of what we can do with them, not what we can’t do. That we will critique ourselves and our tools in order to improve and not to ridicule.
This world needs visionaries and dreamers. So let us start the new year with a resolution to help our youth dream dreams and see visions. It’s up to us.