Little slivers of joy have been bloody tough to come by over the past two years.
COVID. Fires. Floods. War. The value of everything ballooning at disgusting rates (except that stuff that lobs in your bank account every fortnight, for some reason).
Amid this backdrop, in particular, it's more important than ever to celebrate the small slices of joy wherever you can find them.
After the unprecedented outpouring of global grief following the shock death of Shane Warne earlier this month, The Canberra Times received some criticism for its coverage. Many perceived it to be over-the-top, especially via our letters to the editor section.
It's a fair enough point-of-view. There are so many unsung heroes over the past two years, especially - doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, public servants, teachers - whose names no one will ever know.
And Warnie? Well, he wasn't a perfect man, either. Especially off the field. I'm sure the past few weeks have been filled with mixed emotions for his first wife Simone Callahan, who obviously loved him deeply despite her own life being turned upside down by him in humiliating fashion publicly. More than once. All the while having to listen to gibberers like me deifying him.
But what price can you put on the joy Warne's mesmeric talent - only matched by an undefinable charisma everyone wishes they had - brought to millions of people all over the world?
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There were a few tears shed compiling the pages of this paper's Sunday, March 5 edition, in tribute to Warnie.
Growing up near Cootamundra, in central NSW, in the 1990s, 20-odd kids would gather most spring and summer Saturdays at an oval named after Bradman (take that, Bowral. You can have your fancy million-dollar cricket museums and cafe lattes, we'll take The Don's rundown birthplace shack and some pretty wattle trees in the spring) pretending to be one person: Warnie (all the while dodging the plovers when our rotational field policy had us circle around to the Adams Street fence. Joy for our parents, I'm sure, after ruining another Saturday sleep-in).
When Warnie was in his pomp, his legspin wasn't just sport. It was art (cue the Wally Lewis 1990s Origin commentary at the SFS: Why are these guys all calling me a banker?).
Everyone has seen Warnie's top-wicket highlights. The physics-defying leg breaks to Messrs Gatting, Chanderpaul, Richardson, Ali and Strauss.
But for me, in the 90s, watching him bowl his iconic flipper to his "bunny", Daryll Cullinan, a fine South African batter in his own right, well, this was almost sanctioned bullying. And it was thrilling. Joyous.
My favourite Warnie memory will always be the 1999 ODI World Cup semi-final against South Africa, back when one-day cricket actually meant something.
This was one of the greatest cricket matches ever played, thanks to him. Defending a pretty paltry 213, Australia's world cup was all but over after 12 overs with the Proteas cruising at 0-48.
His reaction after bowling Herschelle Gibbs in the 13th over always gives me goosebumps. Australia were still next to no hope of winning it from here but - and it's easy to say in hindsight knowing the result - but just watch his reaction. Come on, boys, Come with me. We are winning this game. I even dug up a potato cam YouTube version with Celine giving some of her best for you. Because nothing is too good for our readers.
The wickets of pretty much all the top order - Gary Kirsten, Hansie Cronje and Jacques Kallis, some of the finest players of the era - would follow as Warnie took 4-29. The match famously finished in a tie with Allan Donald's runout in the final over. The result was enough to take Australia to the final, where it thrashed Pakistan a few days later. Pure joy for a 15-year-old sneaking out to the living room trying to stay quiet in the early hours, unbeknown to mum and dad, to watch.
Therein lies the power of sport, ladies and gentlemen: it's in the joy. It's in the escape.
When you strip it back to its bare bones, there's something inherently ridiculous about people investing so much emotion and time into watching their favourite players or teams every weekend. Rich young athletes who can throw or kick a ball better than us. It's a bit laughable, really, isn't it?
But - and this is admittedly bleak - the reality is most people's lives are pretty unremarkable. We go to work five days a week doing jobs we mostly don't enjoy except for the mateships built along the way - to earn the money and time for the escape.
And the unscripted art of sport? There's few better escapes than that.
We've had our time to cry about Warnie.
I hope it's packed. Warnie deserves that. Because this is a time to remember the unending joy one man's talent brought to millions across the world.
And for that, Warnie, especially bloody lately, I'm thankful.
We hope you enjoy our Super Netball season preview in today's edition of The Canberra Times.
The CT's award-winning coverage of women's sport is something we are particularly proud of.
And if you've been following our reporting over the past couple of weeks, you'll know what an embarrassment it is for our capital city to essentially have no elite venues for them.
The Caps will play game two of their WNBL finals series in what is virtually a north Cooma sweatbox tomorrow, for example.
The club - and its loyal fans - deserve much better.
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