Saturday 7 June 2014

Intent versus Aggression

Cricket coaches the world over talk about 'intent'. Even the Australians seemed to switch to this word when they were being blancmanged by the fat Saffa. I notice under Darren Lehman they've gone back to calling it aggression.

You cannot win a game of cricket without intent. If you are bowling it is no good just to chuck it up there and hope, you need to know where you are bowling it and how you intend the ball to behave, and you need to deliver on that intention.

If you are batting, in defense you don't want to just have the ball hit your bat, you want to defend with intent, you want to hit the ball and kill it stone dead.

If you are attacking don't just wallop the ball, intend to hit it into the ground straight at the gap.

There also needs to be a tactical intention, and whatever the tactics are, intend to boss the game.

The English cricket team sometimes seems to lack intent. They let the game drift. They let the other team boss the game. It drives Australians nuts, watching them do that, it just seems wrong and a really good way to lose the game.

Australians don't call it intent, they call it aggression.

This is to catch the very magnitude of their meaning, the ferocity of the intent required.

It also describes a mental and emotional framework that aids a player in finding the intensity of intention.

Unfortunately the outward manifestation of this emotional framework is also called aggression, and frequently in discussing how Australian cricket works, these two meanings are not merely confused but conflated.

Some people when they say aggression they mean sledging, but that isn't what Darren Lehman and Michael Clarke and Australian Cricket mean when they say they will play 'an aggressive brand of cricket' - they mean they will play with a will, with a strong intent.

They kinda also mean that they will walk like a man and boss the game, but that isn't sledging.

Australians sledge for a whole other reason.

A game of cricket takes a long time, for entire days players stand out there in each other's company. A game of cricket is not a sport, its an experimental community. It is ridiculous to think that players wouldn't speak to each other. Who spends an entire day in their workplace and doesn't speak?

Personalities come out and Australians are arseholes.

Truly, we are raised this way. Staunchly individualist, spoilt and intoxicated by natural fortune, a culture of perpetual banter, a history of crime and violence, a language drenched in blood, excrement and sex. This is the base we are working from.

Other cultures have other traits, other foundations and cultural markers. Some cultures think it is important to be polite, and putting oneself forward might be considered damn rude. Some encourage a veil on direct communication, encourage broad servility, expect humility. Many cultures expect emotion and language to be taken as literal,whilst others take communication as a performance art.

The polite countries can easily take offence at Australian culture. It is boorish, it can be bullying. But there is also an element of cultural misunderstanding in there. Some of it is just how we behave, and you can't persecute a person for their nation's cultural norms.

To really understand the dynamic you also need to know that most Australians don't know this, we don't think there is anything wrong with how we behave and how we speak. We can't understand why other people might have been offended just because what we said might have been a bit loud, and a bit colourful, and a bit, let's face it, here's the rub, 'cause it's not very polite to say is it? A bit true.

Because the bastard of it is of course, we are fucking good at cricket and every cunt knows it and wants to know how we do it.

Well, are you listening without the cultural bias? Sorry if I don't sound polite.

To start with, you need to be fucken aggressive . . .

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