“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
I will never forget their faces. A small cricket ground on the outskirts of Melbourne bathed in a special kind of evening sunlight you only get when you travel this far South. Huddled together in the middle of this beautiful verdant scene were a team of social cricketers. Their best days were behind them but they still loved the game.
I was walking towards them. They were desperately trying to not look shocked. But they were. Their faces had that strange blend of delight and fear you get when you know something momentous is going to happen. I of course was not the momentous event.
Next to me, walking onto the field were Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Sir Viv Richards. Big Bird, Whispering Death and the Master Blaster. We were making a piece of content for a large car client.
Well, thats one way of looking at it. Here’s another. Fuck, I was walking onto a cricket field with three of the greatest cricketers that have ever lived. And in Sir Viv Richards, you have the Muhammad Ali of cricket. He was and is a personal hero of mine.
And you could see to a man, the players on the field felt the same way. They were stunned. Slack jawed, their bodies were frozen. These social cricketers hadn’t been told about this once in a lifetime surprise. Just imagine how you would feel if you looked up from your normal day and saw three legends coming towards you. It is a feeling of awe and fear mixed with a strange child like quality. It is something you cannot manufacture.
This is what is great about my job. I get put into unique situations that happen to very few other people on the planet.
The situation and privilege was to watch a masterclass in swagger from the original master blaster Sir Viv Richards. I was about to get an education in unadulterated confidence. He walked onto the pitch and instantly owned it. He walks up to a couple of players and gives them some gum. He tells them to chew it. Get some attitude maan. Swagger. That’s it.
The players are in dreamland. They bowl as fast as they can. They know this is their one to chance to bowl out a legend. Sir Viv is 62 years old. He doesn’t have pads, a helmet or a box.
He stands there and smashes cricketers half his age all over the ground. He has the hallmark of all great sportsmen. He looks like he is doing everything effortlessly. Slow motion, until the ball hits the bat.
And then he bowls some spin. One of the batsman smashes it back down the pitch. Sir Viv catches it effortlessly and does a Calypso jig in the middle of the pitch. He is laughing and so is everybody else. He had won before a ball was bowled.
It has to be one of the cooler afternoons of my life.
Swagger. A mixture of confidence, aggression and self-belief. When Sir Viv walked onto the pitch he basically said without saying a word, this is my field. It is mine, not yours. I am taking it and there is nothing you can do about it. I am a giant. Today, is my day.
As I walked onto the field with him I could feel what it must have felt like to play against him. He won the game as he walked onto the field. And he did it with a smile. But make no mistake behind the smile, steel. Both Joel Garner and Michael Holding still call him captain.
I guess the lesson for me as a creative that day was seeing somebody back themselves, totally. Win, lose or draw. Every fibre of his being said, I am here and I am going to win. He believed he was going to win. And strangely, that made everybody around him want him to win.
It is an afternoon that sticks in my mind. Sir Viv never beat himself. His opponent had to do it. A big lesson for all of us.
As creatives, there are times we don’t believe in our ideas or ourselves. I guess it is a consequence of being in the business of uncertainty. We beat ourselves before we even walk onto the pitch or in our case into the pitch.
That glorious afternoon for a few moments I got to see the opposite. I got to see a man who had huge self-belief and self-worth. And these qualities let him own the present and create his future. I got to see the power of Swagger with a capital S. And it was a wonderful thing to see.
It was a masterclass. And all I can say is thank you sir.