At the Sportress we love try hards
In sport, we often devalue players who don’t have all that much going for them but working their guts out. Sure they get the odd mention as having “heart”, but they rarely get discussed amongst the greats, even when statistically they probably should. Anyone who watched captain planet as a kid knows that “heart” isn’t as sexy as being some Scandinavian blonde bombshell who controls the weather. Fuck that, we need to start celebrating the try hard for what it really is: a freakish talent, a gift, something to be admired and respected alongside the other more obvious gifts.
Any sportsperson who makes it to the top is by nature far more talented than your average hack. To be an elite sportsman, you need to be an elite talent. Different players have different skill sets and succeed for different reasons, anyone who forges an even moderately successful career as an athlete is a bit of a freak. That includes the try hards.
As fans, we lionise the “natural” talent, the guys where everything just looks effortless, easy, beautiful. Those guys who just have talent seeping out of their pores, who ooze it. But when things don’t “flow” nicely, when players obviously look like they are trying their guts out, we say players have “heart”. Fuck that – being able to constantly try harder than more traditional talented players should be considered a talent in itself.
Not everyone can be a try hard, being a try hard is difficult to do well. If it wasn’t everyone would be doing it. Mitchell Johnson would be constantly amazing, not just amazing when his natural talents align with the planets on the night of a full moon five minutes after midnight turning him into some sort of monster every once in a while.
Being a try hard is just as super human a talent being as being one of those super human athletic freaks of nature that everyone adores. Heck, I’d argue being a try hard is even more admirable. What’s more uplifting than a guy who looks like a lamb to slaughter every time they take the field keeping up with and matching their naturally talented peers?
If you ask me, that shit is fucking beautiful and we should celebrate the fuck out of it. It’s all well and good to be amazing when you are some freak of nature like Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne or Brian Lara or some crazy half machine half-man half-dickhead like Don Bradman, but being amazing when you look as ugly at the crease as Simon Katich or Steve Waugh. That my friends, to me, that is true beauty. You can keep your freakish talents, I’ll be busy cheering the guy who is trying their guts out and getting shit done. While the channel 9 commentators wax lyrical about how talented Shane Watson is, I’ll be busily enjoying every ugly, laboured minute of Chris Rogers innings.
So without further ado. Here are a few great cricketing try hards.
When people discuss the best batsmen of Steve Waugh’s generation the names are depressingly predictable. Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting. All guys who were touted as future greats as 6 year olds or whatever. Naturally talented, beautiful, classic. Fuck those guys. For me Steve Waugh is right alongside them, but nobody ever mentions Waugh seriously in those discussions. They should, he is the equal of any of those guys, he is the quintessential freakish try hard and we should remember him as the freakish talent he was. The fact is very few people could hope to try as hard as Steve Waugh. This is the guy who didn’t score a century in his first 30 tests and ended up scoring 32 of them and averaging 51. The guy who bowled innocuous medium pace and still picked up 92 wickets at 37. The guy who invented the slow bouncer and bowled over after over of them. What a player! What a try hard!
Jacques Kallis is Steve Waugh’s slightly more talented but equally try hard twin. In spiritual terms anyway. We all know that Mark Waugh was Steve Waugh’s actual twin, but despite looking really pretty with a bat in hand, Mark Waugh was a miniscule talent compared to his brother. That’s because Mark Waugh wasn’t a try hard. Jacques Kallis on the other hand was an epic try hard, one of the greatest to ever play the game. Maybe the best ever. Like Waugh, he is right up there with the best bats of his generation, but like Waugh he only ever really gets mentioned as an aside. That’s because he didn’t do it prettily, he didn’t captivate and inspire, he just did it by trying hard. Fact is there was almost nothing pretty or inspiring about watching Kallis bat. He was just good, really fucking good. He could also bowl. Like his batting, it wasn’t eye catching but it was damned effective. He is probably the best all-rounder to ever play the game. You can keep your Sobres and Millers, I’m going with the try hard.
Jacques Kallis, the greatest cricketer of all time is a massive try hard. I’m chalking that up as a win for try hards everywhere.
Collin “funky” Miller
Collin Miller isn’t an all-time great cricketer, but he is an all-time great try hard. This is because he wore his try hard badge with honour. He was a proud try hard who didn’t try to hide it, he embraced it. Unlike the others who were relatively normal, non-try hards off the field, Miller lived as a fully integrated try hard. He was a try hard in every aspect of his life. From his “funky” haircuts to his over the top enthusiasm during interviews. He was a glorious beast. He was such a goddamned try hard. It was just fucking beautiful. He also averaged 26 with the ball. Which is just fucking awesome for a middle aged try hard with pink hair.
One of our greatest openers was also possibly the greatest of the try hards. Langer managed to play the first 30 odd of his over 100 test matches before developing the ability to play a cover drive – and it did on shear guts. Think about that – the most necessary scoring shot for a batsmen facing the swinging new ball, and Langer had to develop it as he was playing international cricket. The guy got hit in the head on his first ball in test cricket. And kept fucking batting.
No wonder Langer and Steve Waugh were such good friends.
And that my friends, is why we cherish the try hards.