Using your currency wisely…
December, 2004, saw two cricket obsessed five and eight year olds, transfixed to the television, watching Australia’s Glenn McGrath, tear through the Pakistan batting line up in Perth, finishing with a career best 8/24 off sixteen overs. For those of you who know nothing of cricket, an eight- wicket haul is something every bowler dreams of, but rarely achieves, much less at Test level. It is akin to winning, the Melbourne Cup, the Sydney to Hobart or the Australian open. It takes huge talent, courage, an enormous heart, and a touch of mongrel to do so.
During commercial breaks, there would be the mimicking of each wicket taken, in our lounge, and my incessant nagging about taking the game outside. Coop would practice his “air bowling” and after careful analysis, adopting every finite move of the cricketer he idolised. The moment the game was over, it would be straight to the nets, to practice with a tennis ball. His brother, a willing and very able participant with the bat, and an accomplished leg spin bowler.
The boys would spend hours honing their self- taught techniques, while Coop continued to mimic Glenn Mcgrath, and Mitch, Shane Warne, to the point where a number of Masters in his first year at Sydney Grammar, who did not know him by any other name than Warnie. The boys would find any excuse to play in our back garden, the laneway, or the nets at the local school, wherever there was a space – the bat and ball would emerge. Coop was annoyed he was deemed too young for a team at six, but eventually burst onto the scene playing local club cricket aged eight. This had given him two years to analyse and mimic the bowling style of his idol, and he embraced the challenge.
Coop’s first game caused one of the cricket tragic dads on the sidelines, whilst watching Coop deliver his first few balls, to remark…”I think we have just discovered our next McGrath”… Possibly the highest order of compliment to Coop at the time. Needless to say, after a succession coaches had moulded his style in later years, his likeness to his hero changed dramatically, but for a brief moment in time, he dared to dream.
Fast forward four years, and Cooper had been given the unexpected honour to captain the Scots College prep 1st X1. His first fixture resulted in the revelation his idol had returned to the game, only this time as a school cricket dad. The ensuing nerves when he was around, proved to be problematic for Coop. Glenn would not have even noticed the uncharacteristically nervous young boy, as he treated all the boys in the same understated manner, and seemed to understand the impetus he had on each.
Last year, when Coop was struggling with the side effects and the endless disappointments attached to his treatment, he quite unexpectedly received an email from Cricket Australia, and attached were two videos, one from Glenn, and the other from Steve Waugh. Cooper had trialled at representative and state level with Steve’s son Austin who has gone on to become a force to be reckoned with as a national u19’s cricketer. I am certain neither dad would remember the gesture, nor had they remembered Coop, yet both had taken the time to record a special message for him, a message that would elicit joy at one of his lowest points. This gesture was completely unsolicited, and put simply, a very pure gesture by both, and one that brought a smile to Coop’s face when reasons to smiles were few and far between.
I have learned so much from my son over the past years – we all did. We learned from his ever present humility and the grace during times of extreme adversity, and we learned from the way in which chose to help others by the inception of his Foundation, especially when his work would be unlikely to change his trajectory in any way. Cooper chose to use his currency wisely. He chose to rise above the feelings of uncertainty, angst and fear, which went hand in hand with his cancer, and attempted instead, to make his very brief life count. In doing so, he unwittingly began to once more, follow in the steps of his cricket idol. Glenn and his equally impressive family, have used their currency wisely for many years, having risen above the grief, the adversity and the tough times, and have made the world a better place for those walking the path of the inspirational Jane Mcgrath.
As our family is left to contemplate life each day without our precious son and brother, together with the void his absence has left in our lives, it is always good to look at those, such as the Mcgrath family, and what they have managed to achieved for the greater good, rising above all else.
Congratulations on your ten-year anniversary today. The team at CRBF are greatly inspired by your work, and your success. We aspire to significantly improve the lives of young sarcoma patients over the next ten years, as you have done for those suffering from breast cancer.
Photo courtesy of The Telegraph