By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.
Sage: A kind and wise older person; one who is distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment.
Gentleman: A man who: is polite and respectful of others; acts with high character; demonstrates good and courteous conduct.
A Sage and a Gentleman.
I remember being coached by such a man when I attended the St. Joseph's Academy. We were being prepared to travel to Dominica to compete in our annual tournament with the St. Mary's Academy.
I was impressed then by the demeanor of my cricket coach. He was knowledgeable and a good teacher. He knew all aspects of the game. And he knew how to coach it. I guess there were others who had similar qualifications... not many... but there were certainly a few of them around.
But none had his demeanor... his presence... his quiet authority... his grace in speech... his gentle yet firm approach to coaching... his soft yet - on occasion- stern guidance.. his fluid, definitive, subtle, and balanced demonstrations of how to handle bat and ball... and most importantly... his polite and courteous demeanor... to us... teenagers.
He never raised his voiced... he changed his tone... soft to firm... gentle to stern. He never cursed or spoke a harsh word... (although there were many times when such a reaction would have been understood - based on the behaviors of some of us)... he was always calm and balanced.
And, I felt back then, as I do now that I was in the presence of someone special who had something special. One could feel the inner peace and calm of the man, the quietness which emanated from the inside and radiated on the outside: unruffled... unperturbed... gently yet fiercely focused on the task at hand.
And, even now, as I reflect back on those days... so many years ago... when I was sixteen... I can feel his presence.
And I know now... as I felt then, that cricket was really not what thus true sage and gentleman was teaching us...
Cricket was the medium. But the lessons were instructions in life... on how to live life wisely... This is best summarized as follows:
Our character would be weighed -
Not by how many runs we made...
But the way our attitudes and behaviors were displayed
Would determine our long lasting life's grade...
He was demonstrating through his own persona - through his behaviors... through his demeanor... not just how to play on the field of cricket - but how to be in the field of life...
Use sound judgment. Be polite and respectful to others. Act with high character. Be of good conduct.
Without me knowing it... those lessons from Sir Sydney Walling... have resonated through me for over forty years.