Dear reader,

Occasionally I’ve found myself in phases where everything I write just…works. The ideas, the flow, the imagery – they get along and co-exist, and not even an authoritarian bill covertly passed through Parliament in 90 minutes can do anything about it.

Predictably, these phases flatter my vanity and – rare as they are – I don’t feel any shame. Early doors, it’s wholesome and healthy. I can’t believe I’ve done it, can’t believe how far I’ve come. I might *gasp* plug my piece a second time on Twitter. Or even leave the hotel. You know, standard rockstar stuff.

And on the seventh day, God had finished the work it ends. A ricketer responds to my texts. We set up a call but, oh, he’s at the airport. Can he call me back? Sure thing.

Then he gets on a 15 hour flight. I’ve been ghosted.

Rejection hurts. Even when it’s most of your job. I’m all for a good humbling every now and again, but rejection is never the premium option. A more sustainable way to keep my head down has been to remind myself that it’s just cricket. No big deal. Not exactly high-stakes journalism. No life-or-death moments here.

Although it briefly felt that way when I made my first big error on the news desk three years ago. Having diligently put together a draft for a result we believed would occur, and was likely to occur, but which had not yet occurred, I had hit the publish button.

As you’ll have gauged, I was not supposed to have done that.

It was up for about four minutes before we realized. Early enough to avoid disastrous trolling. Late enough for 20 amused people to posses screenshots. In that moment, I’d singlehandedly turned my company into any number of things – the humorous readers hinted at Nostradamus Inc. The bitter ones pontificated about the good old 80s, when we would never have made such a mistake; technically, they were right, as printing presses in the 80s were not capable of one-click publishing cycles. Also, we didn’t exist in the 80s.

The most memorable response, however, was the gentleman who believed we had been in touch with both teams to decide the outcome well in advance, just so we could collectively ruin the evenings of everyone in his country.

Fun times, in hindsight, but completely mortifying in the moment. My boss found the humour to laugh it off as I had a top-drawer anxiety outbreak, half expecting to be let go for not meeting the standards. Thank goodness that the standards had dropped so much since the 80s.

And thank goodness that it was only cricket. No big deal, no lives at stake. Can you imagine, for example, being the 24-year-old who switches up the language in a leaked surveillance memo, and has the world doubt your newspaper’s integrity?

Nicole Mowbray couldn’t have imagined it in 2003, but now there’s a movie about her mistake, with Keira Knightley playing the lead role. I came across Mowbray’s account of it last week and while it’s not one of the top five stories in this edition, it is an amusing read nonetheless. A sort of double-down on the embarrassment quotient: “You’ve caused an international incident”

It was also a doubling down in my own head. Being rejected or aggressively snapped out of a phase is a tiny blemish in comparison. I could make mistakes, but they wouldn’t be international incidents. Or movies. It’s just cricket. Sunil Shetty isn’t going to play me on screen in an ironic but endearing shift from nepotism.

No big deal. Just cricket. Small stakes. I’m okay. I’m not crying. You are.

V

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