I remember well the day that cricket first began to make some sort of sense to me. It was a very wet Thursday afternoon and games had been cancelled at my primary school. Instead, somebody had the bright idea of teaching the boys the rules of cricket. Up till that point my understanding had been as confused as the humorous tea towel: ‘Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in, and the next man goes in until he’s out…’
However, that day it began to make sense and I got some vague idea of what I was supposed to be doing. This is not to say that I actually became any good, so don’t ask me even to become a tailender! I was particularly struck by the balance between the individual player and the role of the team, and I find it a useful analogy beyond the cricketing field. For instance, it’s helpful when I think of how our ministry team of clergy and lay readers works.
Each cricketer needs essential skills: to field and to bat. Similarly on a ministry team, each player needs to be able to preach, be pastoral, lead services and so on. The cricketers have differing strengths which affects the batting order and where they field. Likewise, ministry team members may major on one or other of those essential skills. Although we all have the ability to visit the sick or take big services, some may focus on one area and others on another.
Within the cricket team there are also specialisms: spin or fast bowlers, wicket keepers and the like. Due their skills, interests and previous experience ministry team members may specialise in adult education, schools work or chaplaincy. We tend to encourage this specialism as the diversity makes the team stronger and widens what we can do.
When it comes to fielding, a key principle is ensuring that all of the field is covered. It would be doubly unwise to have two men at silly mid on! If we imagine our eight parishes as being like a cricket field, it’s clearly wise to ensure that ministry team members do not double up. So, for instance, we would ask one person to liaise with a particular group or club, someone else might become the regular visitor for a housebound person, and if there were two fetes on at the same time we’d decide who would go to each! It seems sensible, and more personal, for us to do this rather than each of us copy one another’s ministry.
I’d be interested to know if anyone can find other team principles from cricket. Personally, I’m off for a post-match pint, pie and peas!