I am very proud to be a British citizen (my roots are clogged up with a bunch of Scots and Irish, so I could never only exclusively say ‘English’, I mean, look at my surname) and an important aspect of this citizenship is to be furiously supportive of our sporting teams. I’d like to think I’ve fulfilled this brief quite ably thus far. As a passionate Celtic (Damn Irish/Scottish-ness again!) and Arsenal fan, I’ve managed to lay aside my opinions for certain matches: I supported Rangers in their UEFA Cup run in 2008, and Chelsea in their triumphant Champions League campaign last season.
My point here is that I am a passionate supporter of British sport, I’m proud of our competitiveness and history in all sporting arenas.
But when it comes to cricket this is different. I support the entire sport of cricket far ahead of the English cricket team’s fortunes.
For me cricket is far more than a team game; one to be followed with a fierce nationalistic fervour and jingoistic pride for my country.
I love the game so much and adore each facet of it, that I felt robbed for New Zealand when they failed to push home the advantage and rub our noses in the dirt. I was satisfied with England’s performance and lavished praise on the likes of Matt Prior (who was staggeringly good in that series), but I felt that New Zealand wanted it more, deserved it more. As such, I didn’t feel as though ‘we’ had got away with it, or that it was a great rear-guard by ‘our boys’: I just felt as gutted for the Black Caps as I imagine only a New Zealander could.
I don’t believe this is due to some masochistic tendency (though sport surely requires some form of masochism in the subject viewing, how else can the glory of Cardiff ’09 be explained…) but due to my overriding love of the game, regardless of what colour shirt is being worn. Of course I love the England cricket team, and I want them to win every game they play, but I felt as though a Kiwi victory would have been better for the sport. I have no regrets over feeling this way.
The reason I am writing this is that Australia are looking God-awful coming into an historic double Ashes year. Shane Watson has today stepped down from the vice-captaincy of the side; this surely means that if he still refuses to bowl, he will be dropped. With no guarantee of the Zeus-like batting ability of Michael Clarke gracing us throughout the ten Tests (due to his chronic injury problems), it is very possible that we won’t need a fully fit Swann to wipe away arguably the weakest Aussie batting line up in 25 years.
For the sake of cricket, we should all – England fans included – pray for the re-emergence of those arrogant, bullying, crass Australians of days gone. We need to have Stuart Broad being told to f**k off by a grizzled, slightly tubby Australian number five; we need to laugh at a sunburnt English off-spinner going at five an over in the 40 degree heat of Perth.
As brilliant as it is watching the Australians and being able to, after years of being destroyed by them, pity the state of their national side, I truly believe it would be more satisfying to meet them head on as we did in 2005.
But this is only my opinion, am I a traitor?