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David and Goliath
By Ken Russell in All Sorts
The vulnerability paradox of weakness/strength, death/life has endless applications for those with eyes to see and faith to perceive.For though I am weak .......... yet am I strong. Struck down ............. I stand up.
The above words are a working paraphrase of St Paul's marvellous paradox of strength in vulnerability
(ref. 1 Cor 1: 27 for a more literal read.)
While not pursuing the analogy to ridiculous lengths, I give it to you as a Kiwi cricket follower's appreciation of the performance of the our Team in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, in particular the two final matches.
Population-wise the numbers show a staggering disproportion. New Zealand (4.3 million) beat India (1.1 billion) and came within a minutae of the fine print of the CWC rules of drawing with England (49.1 million.) To reinforce the logic of this comparison, India is rated as the world's most "cricket-mad country on earth, " its stars such as Dhoni and Kohli rating god-like status with life-styles to match.
And of course, England is the birth place of cricket, and the final was played at the very home of cricket where everything British about the noble game was represented in the famous Long Room with its hallowed memorabilia, not forgetting the cloud of MCC faithful in their red and orange striped caps and blazers. Truly it was all there for England on the day, the Kiwis faced by an overwhelming momentum of British patriotism, coupled with a tsanami-like will to win. Given such a maelstrom, it is one of the most truly remarkable achievements in NZ sport that our team only conceded after successive draws and recourse to the rule book for the final victory the Lords faithful were baying and praying for.
But the David/Goliath rationale can take us only so far. We cannot hide from the fact that when bat comes to ball, it is eleven players’ vs eleven. Much of the national pride from the heroics of our team at CWC is based on the fact we competed on equal terms against teams like India and England, and despite fielding players of lesser renown and arguably lesser ability. Yes, there were Williamson, Taylor and Boult, all of whom had made their reputations on the world stage but the NZ team list by comparison with the big power nation was half filled with "nobodies." But how those nobodies did the business!
For supreme batsmanship and an uncanny ability to read the game, how about the humble demeanour of universally admired skipper Kane Williamson? For a seriously underrated bowler exceeding all expectations, how about Matt Henry? For a fast bowling new boy, unsettling the best among the powerful, how about Lockie Ferguson? For an opening bat, struggling with poor form, but never failing to exert an encouraging influence on his team mates with his incredible fielding, how about Martin Guptill? And that's not an exhaustive list. Such was the extraordinary resilience of a team that consistently confounded the critics. Weak, yet strong when it mattered.
You may respond that only a besotted cricket fan, and one vaccinated with the hypodermic of biblical imagery could write of cricket in such terms. You are right and I plead guilty. But in the wake of a seeming endless succession of late nights and the bleary aftermath with its toll on marital equilibrium, spare me the right to indulge on just this one occasion. And can you doubt that the noble game of cricket has made its converts in these remarkable latter days?
The vulnerability paradox of weakness/strength, death/life has endless applications for those with eyes to see and faith to perceive. Without it we would be consigned to despair and cynicism. What is the weapon of those who despite all of the evidence to the contrary believe that the Donald Trumps of this world will not have the last say in human affairs?
As only one example I think of the four black Democrat congresswomen attacked by the odious president in one of his worst- ever tweets - that they should go back to where they came from, to the crime infested neighbourhoods with which he, the great powerful white man, associates all black women of their ethnicity. So how should they respond? You know it. With firm unbending dignity they have eyeballed him with their unquestioned legitimacy, their right to speak truth, to challenge lies when they are uttered. Their vulnerability is all the more apparent at the hands of a president who will stop at nothing to destroy them, but in today's America they stand tall, and sooner or later they and those like them will surely reclaim the country.
St Paul had no monopoly on the inspiration inherent in vulnerability. It is at the heart of the Christ who carried his cross to crucifixion and defeat, but on the third day, and since, he lives.