Cricket - A game like no other …

By Saleem Mukuddem

A game like no other. What does 1988 and 2022 have in common? Read on to find out. But first …

They say human beings are social creatures that crave connection. They also say that playing sports triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin (the feel-good hormones). I often wonder why that is? Is it the increased physical activity? Is it the exertion? Is it the sweating and heavy breathing? Is it the joy of taking a wicket, hitting a massive six or diving in the outfield to save a certain boundary? Or is it something entirely different?

I have always believed “who” I play with is far more important than “where” (which team) I play for. I now know why. It is the sense of belonging in a team with teammates who share my joy, feel my pain, and have each other’s back.

It is teammates who laugh at you when you drop a sitter or get a duck or get bowled in the family jewels. It is your teammates who, when on 99, feel your anxiousness and anxiety and wish for you to get a nice full toss to punch down the ground for that single to raise your bat and enjoy the moment.

It is your teammates who help you run in the rain to put on the covers and share a gatsby with you after the game. It is your teammates who will sit the entire day with you and “shoot the breeze”, waiting for umpires to say let’s play on a rainy day.

Our spouses will never understand why cricketers would sit the entire day at the field with just a 10% chance of play, but your teammates do. The same teammates that wonder how you lost a game you should not have or when you grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat.

Cricket teaches you life lessons that no other sport can. Cricket teaches you how to deal with success and failure and everything in between. Cricket teaches you that humility trumps arrogance every time.

Most importantly, cricket provides you with TEAMMATES who, no matter how many decades pass by, there remains a bond that will remain forever.

They say a team is not a team until they share common experiences. For this reason, I believe it is your TEAMMATES that bring about the happy hormones.

It is with this in mind that I look forward to rekindling a bond between some of my teammates in the recently announced Western Province Over-50 cricket team. A bond that was created in 1988 when Mario Solomons, Munier Holiday, Grant Jansen and I represented the Western Province Schools cricket team.

Former WPCA CEO Nabeel Dien was our manager. Mario, Munier, Goolam Taliep and I would all be teammates the following year in 1989 again.

Fast forward to 2022 and it gives me immense pleasure to once again play in a representative team with some of my teammates from the 80s.

I hope we win and we all contribute in some way to the team’s success. But most importantly I hope that we make new lasting bonds and memories … one ball at a time.