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Cricket: It's effort and pain before the payoff

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 13:00 06/01/2014
Shane Harwood
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ
TAKE THAT: Chris Cairns shows the audience at Nelson College how an Australian paid him a backhanded compliment at the SCG.

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Chris Cairns stepped forward dramatically, and gave a one-finger gesture.

It wasn't directed at the International Cricket Council, nor at the more than 200-strong audience he was addressing at Nelson College.

Rather, he was re-enacting the treatment an Australian cricket fan gave him as he walked out onto the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Cairns, who ranks the SCG as a special place, just after hallowed Lords, told how he caught the eye of the man 30 metres away at the one-day game, who returned the acknowledgement with the finger gesture.

Cairns recalled getting "enormous amounts" of boos and, like the finger gesture, took them as a backhanded compliment.

"If they don't boo you, they don't rate you," he said.

The world class all-round cricketer, described as highly strung and highly intelligent by his former Canterbury coach Garry MacDonald at the fundraiser function, warned against sugar-coating the game.

Australia had got it wrong, with the recent report done on their game with regard to resting and rotation, Cairns said.

"It's about pain, it's about hurting and there is no other substitute for it. To sugar-coat it is doing a disservice to the young men and women trying to make a career of it. Not everybody is going to make it. We need to be upfront with our youth. It is hard work, you are going to hurt and there's going to be a lot of pain - but it is worth it for the special times. Make it and there's no better feeling."

He rated walking out at Lords, and New Zealand's first test win there against England, among those special moments.

In answer to a question from a woman in the audience who said young men and women were often taught now that they needed to spend 10,000 hours practising, Cairns said there was an element of truth in that.

"I am a huge believer it has to come from within."

For the kid who cried at losing "that is something that is within and, coached right, is what desire is all about . . . You never want to extinguish that.

"When I didn't win or perform, it hurt and only in later years I learnt to control that."

His impression was that cricket in New Zealand had become "a bit rudderless" over the last few years, and when he returned in August he noticed apathy in the game.

"The losses in Bangladesh didn't even rate a mention. To me that is worse, then there is no hurt. It should be in the paper. They weren't even reporting it."

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Asked about the three different forms of the game, Cairns said he would have only two, doing away with 50-over cricket and having Twenty20 and test cricket. However, 50-over cricket was a billion-dollar industry for the ICC, so was a necessary evil for what was happening in the market.

However, he told the purists: "Don't dislike Twenty20 for what it is not. It is not test cricket, it's not about patience, it's about wanting things now.

"It's about instant three hours, bam, thank you very much, but it also has a high degree of skill."

He gave the analogy of drinking. "You don't start drinking by having Moet. For me an RTD is T20 but then as you evolve in life, you might sit down and watch test cricket which is about patience and understanding.

"Understand that T20 is the vehicle into the game."

He believed T20 should be a domestic product with a world cup every four years, "a bit like the soccer world cup so you don't kill the golden goose".

- Nelson

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