Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Unlike its footballers, England's cricketers are a credit to their country

I missed the Edgbaston Test due to being on holiday in Venice. We didn’t have access to the internet and Italian television – surprisingly – doesn’t provide ball-by-ball coverage, preferring to concentrate on detective series about dogs (Il Commisario Rex), female Zorros (Queen of Swords), news bulletins featuring gorgeous bunga-bunga dominatrixes with Sophia Loren eyes and sluttish mouths, male weather forecasters dressed in spiffy military uniforms, and Midsomer Murders dubbed into Italian. 

But thanks to the wonders of Sky’s digital video recording facility, I’ve caught up with this momentous match via the four daily highlights programmes broadcast on Channel 5. 

Watching this current England team is proving a surreal experience. It just isn’t meant to be this way. As my brother commented, it’s the first time in his life he’s ever been tempted to feel sympathy for England’s opponents. How dare an England cricket team turn up for a major series with more than two players in form! How can the team not contain a single batsman who, despite an impressive record in county cricket, hasn’t managed to reach 50 in 33 international innings? Where are the fast bowlers who couldn’t hit a barn door at five paces? Where are the butter-fingered fielders consistently putting down dolly catches? Where are the cream-bun munchers who look like they’re wearing fat-suits under their cricket whites? Where are the heavy smokers who we’re supposed to warm to because they have hearts of gold, even though they’re absolutely useless at cricket? Which country (or planet) is this team of superbly drilled, extraordinarily talented, massively disciplined professionals from? (And don’t say South Africa and Ireland – after all, there’s only one from each in the team, and surely we have the right to extract some benefit from muliticulturalism.)

Is it my imagination, or has Geoffrey Boycott turned into a fairly reasonable human being sometime during the past thirty years? As a commentator, he used to be the natural successor to Fred Trueman: an obnoxious, jeering, boastful Yorkshireman droning on about how much better everything was in his day. Somewhere along the line, Sir Geoffrey has learned that it’s not all about him any more – refreshing.

Groups of spectators who turn up wearing themed comic outfits – dressed as nuns, Vikings or animals – should be refused entry unless they change into normal clothes. Grown men wearing female wigs and comedy breasts might as well wear signs on their back reading “I don’t have a sense of humour”.

I know it’s not an original question, but why are our cricketers so much less yobby and seemingly so much more honourable than our footballers? After all, not all England cricketers attended private school. Is it just the ridiculous and unjustified amount of money footballers now earn or the fact that their main focus is playing for a commercial concern rather than for their country that tends to make them so depressingly uncivilised? I mean, can you imagine Alastair Cook running up to a TV camera and unleashing a torrent of obscenities after scoring a goal, as Wayne Rooney did at Anfield last season? Why doesn’t cricket tend to spawn the likes of Joey Barton? 

And why do footballers sound so bloody thick? When interviewed, all sportsmen spout clichés (as do their interviewers) , but English footballers seem to have taken inarticulacy to a whole new level. In short, why do so many of our footballers sound and behave like the undisciplined, moronic scum who recently brought shame to this country by rioting in our cities, while cricketers tend to resemble the brave young Britons risking life and limb in Afghanistan (I’m referring, of course,  to members of Her Majesty’s armed forces, rather than those who’ve joined the Taliban)?

Answers on a postcard, please.

Finally, I can’t be the only non-Indian England supporter who hopes that Tendulkar gets his 100th test hundred (he’s on 34 as I write this) - as long as England win the series 4-0!


  1. Have just been watching England's victory over India in the Oval Test. A great achievment. When the "fat, pie-eating, pudding-bowl haircutted Yorkshireman" Bresnan got Tendulkar -well, it was bitter-sweet. They have beaten a team of real pedigree and have cheered many of us up during a ghastly period. At the beginning of the summer I harboured horrible thoughts about Pieterson and Broad and now feel ashamed.

    So it's back to reality - noisy, emotionally incontinent Arabs ["We are coming to get you, frizz-head" as Charlotte Green reported on R4 without cracking a muscle] and our utterly useless politcians. Cameron recalled from yet another holiday [Cornwall] - the Erwin Rommel syndrome - to utter more platitudes, Dr Fox buying 14 new Chinooks [delivery 2015 by which time we are out of Afghanistan] and the mystery over the silence of our Foreign Secretary and his current whereabouts [possibly Mykonos, accompanied by his advisors and wearing his "budgie-smugglers"] and the Home Secretary, the raddled Mrs May, who is about to get the axe and replaced by some ghastly Lib-Dem with sexual peculiarities and......enough!

    The England Cricket Team. Than you for alleviating the gloom. You wouldn't have any stock-market tips, by any chance? My friends at Schroeders, Invesco and Fidelity have gone missing.
    Monday, August 22, 2011 - 09:13 PM

  2. SDG, the image of William Hague in budgie-smugglers is one I would preferred not to have lodged in my head – but your observations seem spot on.

    The “friends” who sold you investment policies will no doubt already be enjoying the pleasures of an exceptionally comfortable retirement, funded by poor sods like you, me and millions of others who were foolish enough to believe that they might be in any way competent or capable of telling the truth.

    ‘Appen, I’m not sure how many pies Bresnan gets through, but I’m pretty sure his “brick shithouse” figure is the result of muscle rather than flab. Let’s just say that if I found myself standing next to him in a pub, I’d be very careful not to spill his pint. (However, I think some of the Indian team might usefully be encouraged to lay off the Ginsters.) Shame about Tendulkar, of course, but, Lord, he rode his luck yesterday. Perhaps the South Africans will whip England next year and we’ll stop feeling like we’ve slipped into a parallel universe.
    Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 12:27 PM

  3. And I meant 100 international centuries, rather than test centuries of course - the Little Master's good, but no one's that good!
    Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 12:28 PM

  4. Would I be arrested if I suggested the gentlemanliness of the England team is based on the fact that there are more public schoolboys in it that state school products…I’m not sure how many of the England football team attended public school but probably less than half I should imagine.
    Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 10:37 PM