In Focus

Ryan Carters hits a six for Third World education

Sydney Thunder batsman-wicketkeeper Ryan Carters will draw on the philosophies of mankind’s great thinkers during this summer’s Big Bash League, where, alongside his fellow lime-greeners, he’ll strike a blow to enrich the lives of impoverished Nepalese children.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
– Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, former inmate (1918-2013)

Carters, 23 and one of the finds of this year’s NSW Sheffield Shield campaign, forged an alliance between western Sydney’s T20 franchise and the Learning for a Better World (LBW) Trust to initiate Batting for Change. An online fund-raising program, it allows fans to pledge money for every six that’s hit by the Thunder to count towards something considered a fundamental right in Australia, but that remains beyond the reach of millions of people in the Third World – an education.

Carters, who studies philosophy and analyses Weberian sociology along with Keynesian economics as an arts degree student at Sydney University, was the dux of Canberra’s Radford College in 2008. His determination to help the less fortunate suggests the college’s pillars of truth, compassion and wisdom made an impact. He has an obvious pride in thinking the funds from Batting for Change will help build a senior school campus in Bafal, Kathmandu.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life to receive a wonderful education and also plenty of opportunities through my cricketing pursuits,” Carters said. “It made me realize how lucky I am to have these opportunities and that so much of the cricket-playing world couldn’t even dream of having these things available to them.

In partnering the LBW Trust, I wanted to use what I do on the field to hopefully give more people in some cricket-playing nations a chance to enjoy a high quality education and greater opportunities that life provides.

“I think education should be treated as one of the highest priorities in any society. Education is what allows us to see the world more clearly and more intelligently and to live better lives. I was lucky to attend a very good school. I learned so much, including education doesn’t need to be limited to academia in the classroom. It includes learning how to enjoy ourselves with our peers; learning what matters in life.”

His desire to help was galvanised three years ago in South Africa, where he competed in the Champion’s League and spent time with some students in Soweto.

“All of them hoped to have careers that’d provide for them, their families – once they had their own husbands and wives and children – similar goals to ours. They wanted, in their lives, to do things they enjoyed and to do it without the fear of not having the basic necessities that allow for that to happen.

“I was 20 at the time, I was at the Champion’s League, and I wasn’t much older than these young men and women of Soweto we were training with that day and who were in their final years of high school. I realised I wasn’t too distant from them in terms of age, and a lot of other factors as well, but I had so many great opportunities and I was fortunate.

“It’s very important to realise this sort of program – Batting for Change – can affect lives at a personal level. It’s not just a faceless population of struggling people in Nepal and the developing world. They’re people with family and friends; fears and hopes – just like us.”

“Always recognise that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.”

– Immanuel Kant, German philosopher (1724-1804)

Carters joined the NSW roster this year after he transferred from Melbourne University to Sydney University and he didn’t take long to make his mark. He finished, at the break to the first-class season for the Big Bash League, as the state’s highest run-scorer with 409 at 81.8. That tally doesn’t include his 94 and 40 against England last month.

He has also spent months studying at his other education facility – the uni of tough knocks and hard catches at the SCG – the philosophies of Bradley James Haddin, an eminent wicketkeeper whose technique is as revered in London, Lahore, Mumbai, Pretoria and Harare as it was by Carters as a schoolboy. ”An exceptional wicketkeeper/batsman, his form in the Ashes has been world class,” Carters said. ”He has encouraged me to work on the basics of my wicketkeeping technique, and, therefore, trust, so once I’m put under pressure in a match situation I’ll perform. His philosophy is a proven one: hard work equates to success.”

Carters, who has scored two centuries for NSW since he scored the 94 against England, said being pitted against the tourists’ attack provided a sense of belief.

“It was a confidence boost early in the season,” he said. “I was excited to be selected in that game and to test my skills against the English attack and when I managed to make some runs, I was pleased to know I could compete against them and stave off their attack in a partnership that lasted a few hours with Peter Nevill.”

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

– Mahatma Gandhi, father of the Indian independence movement (1869-1948)

Now, as a Thunder wonder, Carters is focused on his partnership with the LBW Trust – one of cricket’s great charities which provides funds for economically challenged students in developing cricket nations to further their tertiary education – and the change he can help make in Nepal. While Nepal qualified for the World T20 Cup in Bangladesh when Sharad Vesawkar belted three sixes in the last over to defeat Kenya, an even greater challenge was to fulfil its national desire to provide education for all, with the help of the United Nations, by 2015.

“I believe we should view ourselves as global citizens,” Carters said.

“We need to realise that, although India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal – all countries the LBW Trust supports – are across the Indian Ocean from where we live, the reality is they’re our neighbours; all cricket-loving nations and they’re a people trying to get by and live a good life. That distance shouldn’t affect how we care for those people and how we empathise for their situation.

“The position myself and others enjoy from sport is a privileged one and I’m very excited exploring through Batting for Change how we can use our work on the field to make a difference to people’s lives. We all have a natural instinct to want to help where we can and hopefully Batting for Change will provide cricket fans with an opportunity to contribute in a small but an important way to bring education to those who’d otherwise be denied.

“We’re very lucky at the LBW Trust to have Rahul Dravid, Adam Gilchrist, Kumar Sangakkara, Greg Chappell and all of the Thunder players involved. It’s a perfect example how people from different cultures can come together, help the concept take off and succeed.”

Gilchrist, one of the greats of Australian cricket and someone who has used his profile to support numerous charities, suggested Carters would view life as a professional athlete from a different dimension due to his charitable endeavours.

“I don’t know Ryan, I’ve seen his progress in state cricket, but to see him get involved in this really is exciting and testament to the type of person he is, and his character,” Gilchrist said. “I think it is brilliant for sportspeople to look more broadly than the playing field, and that will be a wonderful stepping stone in his journey of life.”

Article by Daniel Lane, Sports reporter & Video journalist
Sydney Morning Herald