Samir Chopra June 23, 2008

The difference between a fan and a fan

The fan who plays the game realises something the non-playing fan often does not: it's just a game.
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There is a fairly well-established stereotype of the Australian cricket fan out there: loud, beer-swilling, male, proudly, passionately patriotic (and did I say loud and beer-swilling?) I want to point to another stereotype of the Australian fan that I carry around in my head: the enthusiastic recreational player come to watch the highest form of the game.

Australia owes part of its cricketing strength at least, to the extensive, well-organised network of recreational cricket that is visible in its summers. And each summer, a large segment of this population turns up at the Test matches and one-day internationals, all keen to see players practice the highest form of the game. Their presence ensures Australian crowds often provide the most knowledgeable spectators at Test cricket. And it reminds us of how the game played in the middle is experienced very differently by those watching in the stands, and how at least one, facile, binary division of cricket fans is possible: those who play and those who don't.

One abiding memory of the Test cricket I watched at Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide is of the fan who while watching the game, revealed a knowledge of the game that only a player could possess. This knowledge is perhaps best revealed by a quiet patience, with player mistakes in particular, and a quick appreciation of cricketing skill, regardless of the nationality of the player.

This fan will not impatiently call for batsman to get a move on regardless of game situation, and will be tolerant of occasional mishaps, largely because he is aware of the difficulty of playing the game well, and knows that mistakes will happen. This fan will readily applaud a display of cricketing competence, no matter what the player's nationality; a good shot is a good shot, no matter who plays it.

The playing fan also pays particular, thoughtful, attention to the players out in the middle, analysing as best as he can, their bowling skills or the structure of a shot; for him, watching a cricket match affords yet another opportunity for study of a game that obsesses him. The player fan is also more accepting of the misfortunes of the game; the loss of a wicket late in the day is borne with fortitude. This fan has not as yet, swallowed completely, the picture of the game sold to him by its television version; he is able to come to the ground and gain access to the essentials, unobscured by several dozen replays and cued music.

The fan who plays the game realises something the non-playing fan often does not: it's just a game. Some people play it better than others; it's not perfect, and everyone gets it wrong once in a while; it's hard, so when someone does something right, its worth noting.

Most fundamentally, for the fan who plays the game, what happens out in the middle is not pure spectacle or performance (what Mihir Bose termed tamasha), with players to be primarily heckled, applauded or castigated. Instead the doings on the pitch represent striving, first and foremost. It is that striving that the playing fan recognises, in himself, as well as in those flinging themselves about on the field. And it is that recognition that changes his relationship to the game being played and makes him different from other fans.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hersh on July 1, 2008, 23:42 GMT

    Good article, as Samir re-stated, we all view the game differently, from the beer-guzzler, the student, and the player who has been in the same situation.

  • John on June 28, 2008, 8:49 GMT

    Samir, There is also one other kind of patient fan.

    Not the playing kind, but the one who remembers playing a few times, remembers how scary it is to have a ball rear off a good length at your ribs, knows exactly what the commentator is saying when he says the dew is making things difficult for spinners, knows the ecstacy of ball hitting the middle of the bat, basically fancies himself as a bit of an all-rounder who can bat at any position, but actually shite at everything.

  • Vishvesh on June 26, 2008, 18:25 GMT

    I don't think it makes a lot of sense. A fan judges player A based on his peers, i.e., other international players. So a catch that is expected to be taken in international cricket is dropped by Player A I will shout at him irrespective of the fact that it would have been described as a half chance in my Sunday league.

    The only place where it makes a difference is in strategies.

  • Som on June 26, 2008, 17:01 GMT

    I could not agree more Samir. Of course playing fans have a better idea of what exactly is going in the middle and they even try to predict the next twist and turn in the plot. Naturally, the playing fans are less excitable. It does not elude me either that there are two distinct types of fans -- those who root for a team and those who follow the personality cult. A Tendulkar-powered win evokes more joy among certain Indians than say, a Suresh Raina-fashioned one. The personality cult is not bad either, for it often transcends boundary. No wonder, many Indians wanted India to beat West Indies but prayed for Lara to come good with his magic wood. Did I say it was me?

  • Samir Chopra on June 26, 2008, 14:07 GMT

    As always, folks thanks for your comments. Let me seize on something Anshul points to. Which is the business of the felt cricket experience. Take something like trying to score quickly in a match where quick runs are needed, and the batsman has been pegged back by the bowler. A fan appreciative of the nuances of the game (and not necessarily a player) might still be able to understand why the batsman is not getting move on. Someone however, who has actually experienced that happen to him, will still have an interestingly different take on what is happening out there (he'll be recollecting memories of the time when he simply couldn't force the ball away, or find deliveries on the right line/length to hit and so on).

  • Anshul on June 26, 2008, 7:33 GMT

    But there's a difference between a person who knows the game and a person who's played it. An ardent student will appreciate the nuances and sifting nature of the game. A player on the other hand will gasp and wonder at the skill required to flick a shoaib akhtar from outside off stump to square leg. Any keen observer will understand the nuances of the game in its strategies, its inner-plays yet they won't know what to wonder about a Lee bouncer. I once faced a 145 kmph ball rearing up towards my head, and, since then, I've grimaced in knowledge when Chanders and Flynn got theirs. I don't think I would have had the same reaction no matter how much I knew about the game had I not been at the end of one.

    I think that's the point Samir should have really brought out. I know what he means.

  • Marcus on June 25, 2008, 6:39 GMT

    Terry

    I found the selection of Larwood particularly surprising, (not to mention Qadir) but I think the players were selected for their "enjoyability" as much as anything else.

    Personally, I played junior club cricket, but as I wasn't very good I spent most of my time reading up on the game, so my statistical knowledge is close to an encyclopedic! So I agree with Mike Holman, playing experience (or at least skill) isn't essential for being a knowledgeable fan.

  • Murali Dhanakoti on June 24, 2008, 17:20 GMT

    Nice article. I always found myself more evocative by my team's (Indiyeah!) fortunes than my friend who was casual about defeat and mistakes on field. Both of us played cricket at the same level (both were wicket keeper & batsman), but he was clearly the better player, he showed steely resolve in some match winning innings, and once admirably kept wickets to a fast bowler who was in a far superior grade than the one we played at and were exposed to normally. At first, I thought he was a guy who didn't reveal emotions, but then at some point, I began to realize that he could really appreciate the fickleness and eventuality of the game (due to the strengths and weaknesses of the teams and players involved). Having emphatically played a part in situations where defeat and victory were merely the end results, but the 'striving' was no less than the intent to win, I think he understood the game more than I did at a much deeper level and hence became a better judge and a better fan.

  • terry on June 24, 2008, 14:59 GMT

    Lets consider the Don of the microphone, Ritchie Benaud. He played at the highest level, captained Australia and seen most cricket and cricket players since the late 40's. Surely a fan or viewer of cricket with these credentials would be more informed than most. Then consider this.... in his greatest test 11 ever he picked S barnes and D lillee as his two pace men. His reserve pace men were, lindwall, trueman,mcgrath and larwood. NO marshall, holding, wasim, donald, ambrose, garner, waqar, not even in the reserves! Thats why i believe current and ex-players have no more valid view or opinion than any other cricket fan. its all subjective!

  • Samir Chopra on June 24, 2008, 14:35 GMT

    Folks, thanks for all your comments. Just to clarify things: I'm not trying to make the case that a playing fan is 'superior'. Just that he sees the games diffrently (or tends to). And that this difference manifests itself in his appreciation of the game. Others can also view the game similarly - its just harder to acquire. To go with the music analogy (suggested by Terry), yes, its about certain insights, which I can only see as enriching. I'm not a musician and I still enjoy music, yes, but I'm sure my take on it would be made different if I had taken lessons. I also like Kishore's distinction between the 'fan' and the 'connosseur' of the game - one worth drawing out. Put it this way, playing the game is not necessary or sufficient to make one a 'better' fan. But it does seem to help. And basically, the help it provides is in reminding the spectator that the game is about trying your hand at something in competition, in trying to be better than other players, yes, and yourself.

  • Hersh on July 1, 2008, 23:42 GMT

    Good article, as Samir re-stated, we all view the game differently, from the beer-guzzler, the student, and the player who has been in the same situation.

  • John on June 28, 2008, 8:49 GMT

    Samir, There is also one other kind of patient fan.

    Not the playing kind, but the one who remembers playing a few times, remembers how scary it is to have a ball rear off a good length at your ribs, knows exactly what the commentator is saying when he says the dew is making things difficult for spinners, knows the ecstacy of ball hitting the middle of the bat, basically fancies himself as a bit of an all-rounder who can bat at any position, but actually shite at everything.

  • Vishvesh on June 26, 2008, 18:25 GMT

    I don't think it makes a lot of sense. A fan judges player A based on his peers, i.e., other international players. So a catch that is expected to be taken in international cricket is dropped by Player A I will shout at him irrespective of the fact that it would have been described as a half chance in my Sunday league.

    The only place where it makes a difference is in strategies.

  • Som on June 26, 2008, 17:01 GMT

    I could not agree more Samir. Of course playing fans have a better idea of what exactly is going in the middle and they even try to predict the next twist and turn in the plot. Naturally, the playing fans are less excitable. It does not elude me either that there are two distinct types of fans -- those who root for a team and those who follow the personality cult. A Tendulkar-powered win evokes more joy among certain Indians than say, a Suresh Raina-fashioned one. The personality cult is not bad either, for it often transcends boundary. No wonder, many Indians wanted India to beat West Indies but prayed for Lara to come good with his magic wood. Did I say it was me?

  • Samir Chopra on June 26, 2008, 14:07 GMT

    As always, folks thanks for your comments. Let me seize on something Anshul points to. Which is the business of the felt cricket experience. Take something like trying to score quickly in a match where quick runs are needed, and the batsman has been pegged back by the bowler. A fan appreciative of the nuances of the game (and not necessarily a player) might still be able to understand why the batsman is not getting move on. Someone however, who has actually experienced that happen to him, will still have an interestingly different take on what is happening out there (he'll be recollecting memories of the time when he simply couldn't force the ball away, or find deliveries on the right line/length to hit and so on).

  • Anshul on June 26, 2008, 7:33 GMT

    But there's a difference between a person who knows the game and a person who's played it. An ardent student will appreciate the nuances and sifting nature of the game. A player on the other hand will gasp and wonder at the skill required to flick a shoaib akhtar from outside off stump to square leg. Any keen observer will understand the nuances of the game in its strategies, its inner-plays yet they won't know what to wonder about a Lee bouncer. I once faced a 145 kmph ball rearing up towards my head, and, since then, I've grimaced in knowledge when Chanders and Flynn got theirs. I don't think I would have had the same reaction no matter how much I knew about the game had I not been at the end of one.

    I think that's the point Samir should have really brought out. I know what he means.

  • Marcus on June 25, 2008, 6:39 GMT

    Terry

    I found the selection of Larwood particularly surprising, (not to mention Qadir) but I think the players were selected for their "enjoyability" as much as anything else.

    Personally, I played junior club cricket, but as I wasn't very good I spent most of my time reading up on the game, so my statistical knowledge is close to an encyclopedic! So I agree with Mike Holman, playing experience (or at least skill) isn't essential for being a knowledgeable fan.

  • Murali Dhanakoti on June 24, 2008, 17:20 GMT

    Nice article. I always found myself more evocative by my team's (Indiyeah!) fortunes than my friend who was casual about defeat and mistakes on field. Both of us played cricket at the same level (both were wicket keeper & batsman), but he was clearly the better player, he showed steely resolve in some match winning innings, and once admirably kept wickets to a fast bowler who was in a far superior grade than the one we played at and were exposed to normally. At first, I thought he was a guy who didn't reveal emotions, but then at some point, I began to realize that he could really appreciate the fickleness and eventuality of the game (due to the strengths and weaknesses of the teams and players involved). Having emphatically played a part in situations where defeat and victory were merely the end results, but the 'striving' was no less than the intent to win, I think he understood the game more than I did at a much deeper level and hence became a better judge and a better fan.

  • terry on June 24, 2008, 14:59 GMT

    Lets consider the Don of the microphone, Ritchie Benaud. He played at the highest level, captained Australia and seen most cricket and cricket players since the late 40's. Surely a fan or viewer of cricket with these credentials would be more informed than most. Then consider this.... in his greatest test 11 ever he picked S barnes and D lillee as his two pace men. His reserve pace men were, lindwall, trueman,mcgrath and larwood. NO marshall, holding, wasim, donald, ambrose, garner, waqar, not even in the reserves! Thats why i believe current and ex-players have no more valid view or opinion than any other cricket fan. its all subjective!

  • Samir Chopra on June 24, 2008, 14:35 GMT

    Folks, thanks for all your comments. Just to clarify things: I'm not trying to make the case that a playing fan is 'superior'. Just that he sees the games diffrently (or tends to). And that this difference manifests itself in his appreciation of the game. Others can also view the game similarly - its just harder to acquire. To go with the music analogy (suggested by Terry), yes, its about certain insights, which I can only see as enriching. I'm not a musician and I still enjoy music, yes, but I'm sure my take on it would be made different if I had taken lessons. I also like Kishore's distinction between the 'fan' and the 'connosseur' of the game - one worth drawing out. Put it this way, playing the game is not necessary or sufficient to make one a 'better' fan. But it does seem to help. And basically, the help it provides is in reminding the spectator that the game is about trying your hand at something in competition, in trying to be better than other players, yes, and yourself.

  • Karl Popper on June 24, 2008, 12:40 GMT

    They do serve beer, after all, at Aussie cricket matches, do they not?

  • Anjo on June 24, 2008, 7:45 GMT

    @Mina: Does Gavaskar speak out against the fact that India, who used all their clout to get Bangladesh Test status, have never invited Bangladesh for a home Test series? What about the Champions League only considering 4 countries, doesn't the West Indies also have a top-grade Twenty-20 domestic tournament? Does he speak out against the BCCI for castigating everyone in the ICL from his own son to Shane Bond so that the BCCI can run cricket in his country on the same archaic rules that facilitate their monopoly, not to mention drop him a fat check for sitting on the governing council of the IPL? You do know that in his autobiography he wrote about the West Indian crowd: " ...these people still belonged to the jungles and forests". But of course he's not biased, because he's defending the brown man from the colonial abuse which he was so painfully subjected to when he was playing. Double standards indeed!

  • Mina Anand on June 24, 2008, 7:14 GMT

    In response to Brendanvio, I wouldn't say that SM Gavaskar is biased. He is one of the few voices that speaks out against the double standards, rampant in cricket.

  • Brendanvio on June 24, 2008, 4:30 GMT

    This is a good article, a very good article actually.

    Although the comments made by some that you don't have to a cook to appreciate good food is accurate, to some degree a background of cricket knowledge does help one be more balanced.

    Certain fans and journalists don't appreciate certain facets of the game, and some are so ridiculously biased (May I take this chance to point the finger at one SM Gavaskar, whose bias against any team not India is rather obvious) as to spoil it for other fans.

    On day two of the India v Australia test in Sydney, the crowd were treated to an absolutely beautiful century from VVS Laxman. Not once was he heckled, and the majority of the crowd stood and applauded him.

    Real cricket fans know a gifted cricketer who entertains when they see one. And it was a special moment when the entire stadium stood and gave credit where it was due.

  • Avinash Subramaniam on June 24, 2008, 3:45 GMT

    In response to the respected Mike Holmans, Sambit Bal, respected Editor, Cricinfo does play quite well. (Wink.)

  • Mike Holmans on June 24, 2008, 3:19 GMT

    In response to HE-MAN, I don't think the cricketing public has ever asked about the playing credentials of the Editor of Wisden, although all the Editors I can remember have been professional journalists who play no cricket at all. Nor did they sniff at EW Swanton, Neville Cardus, John Arlott or Brian Johnston, none of whom played first-class cricket.

  • Mina Anand on June 24, 2008, 2:58 GMT

    As a “non-playing fan” (except for playing non-stop 'childhood' cricket, with the boys) I always appreciate the game for what it is, and its glorious uncertainties. With apologies to the author : I am "more accepting of the misfortunes of the game"; "recognise that the doings on the pitch represent striving"; "reveal a quiet patience, with player mistakes in particular"; am completely "tolerant of occasional mishaps, largely because I am fully aware of the difficulty of playing the game well, and know that mistakes will happen”; will never “impatiently call for batsmen to get a move on regardless of the game situation”; am a ‘foul-weather’ supporter of my team, and “passionately patriotic” as well !

  • Rahul on June 24, 2008, 2:06 GMT

    @NJ

    But a good cook will understand bad food. :)

  • HE-MAN on June 24, 2008, 1:27 GMT

    I think in most cases, we can say that the author is right. But there are always exceptions to any scenario.

    And another interesting debate that ive always wanted to bring up is that of a commentator who has not played professional cricket. Though this is not entirely related to the topic, I wanted to post it.

    Here it goes, in general a harsh cricketing comment (eg: saying that the player is really bad or accusing him of stupidity for not knowing to play a particular shot) from a commentator who has not played professional cricket is generally not very well received by the public. And makes them question, what level of cricket has this guy played to give such a comment.

  • Damo on June 23, 2008, 23:58 GMT

    I am one of these recreational players that is referred to and it is refreshing to see these comments. I have not missed a first day of the first test since 1992 and sit with my fellow players, none of which reached heights above 3rd grade of grade cricket. We sit, we watch, we observe, we relate, but we also have 3 or 4 quiet beers and enjoy the day. There are pleny of "well bowled, good shot, well left" from us. We all silently wish we could play at that altar. I am now at a stage where my 7 year old will now come to a days cricket and hopefully will grow to appreciate the game like me and my friends do, so when he is older, he can go and make similar observations.

  • NJ on June 23, 2008, 22:17 GMT

    you don't have to be a cook to appreciate good food (period)

  • Ibrahim on June 23, 2008, 21:50 GMT

    Very true. It's not just exclusively cricket players, of course, but it irritates me no end when the batsman leaves one delivery--one delivery, mind you--to the keeper and the fellow next to me starts shouting down that batsman and abusing his career. Unfortunately even cricket reporters fall into this trap. George Binoy, for one, wrote recently that chasing 64 runs in six overs shouldn't have been a problem for India (against Pakistan in the Kitply Final). Was he serious? That's 10.67 runs per over--barely achievable on a good day. One three-run over and the required rate's up to 12. Unfortunately there's some blow-up myth that because of T20, batsmen are regularly scoring at 9 or 10 an over. Uh-uh. It rarely occurs even in T20. It's impressive, actually, how bowlers have surfaced considering the cricketing establishment's best efforts to turn them into pie-throwers. By the way, I completely agree with Rafay's comment.

  • Mike Holmans on June 23, 2008, 19:26 GMT

    I agree that there are fans who know how to watch a game and fans who only know how to cheer for their side, and that playing experience makes it a lot easier to know how to watch.

    But playing experience is not essential.

    I basically gave up playing at the age of 11 because I was so bad - I never even managed to bowl an overarm ball which hit the cut strip (I took up scoring instead so as to get to the school XI's games).

    But I learned how to watch by sitting next to a former first-class cricketer for many days a season, so I'm well able to understand the rhythms and the technical nuances of a long-form game.

    Watching cricket with appreciation is an acquired skill, but it is not necessary to be much of a player to acquire it, as many knowledgeable old ladies at Yorkshire's matches eloquently testify.

  • AJAX on June 23, 2008, 18:47 GMT

    I once sat next to some ass who was training to be an umpire. It ended up being the most boring game I have ever seen even though Carl Hooper apparently bowled a delivery quicker than 45mph. The only time this guy showed a flicker of excitement was when the umpires got together to discuss the state of the ball. In an effort to bring the guy to life I drenched him with both my free beers and punched him in the face. Nothing! He just kept repeating his ridiculous gibberish on stats intermittently bringing up Law 10 Section 3 (c). The lasting effects of this encounter are that I am no longer distracted by a late cut or a reverse swinging yorker or a fielder on the boundary's edge that deserves some encouragement. I have learned to appreciate the simplistic eloquent art of using slow hand movements, inspired by a slower moving mind, to disappoint millions. The best fans are umpires-in-training and if you disagree with me then you are wrong.

  • Kishore Sharma on June 23, 2008, 17:58 GMT

    The term that should be used, in the context of this article, is not so much 'fan' as 'connosseiur'. Not all fans are connosseiurs of the game. Within the segment of connosseiur fans I would agree that the one who has played would have a even more superior view of the game. However, we should also note that not all player fans are connosseiurs and that some non-player fans can be connosseiurs. In order to be more nuanced, the article would need to make this distinction.

  • Rafay on June 23, 2008, 17:15 GMT

    a very good article, which i completely agree with. I have always found it easy to determine whether a person is a player of the game, from the comments that he makes about it. a player here does not mean that he has to be involved with professional cricket or must be part of some club. A 'player' simply means that he loves playing whatever sort of cricket he is exposed to, be it street cricket, tape ball cricket, or indoor cricket(as some of us in the colder countries get confined to). It is only through playing that you begin to appreciate the value of all things cricket. For example, there was a general consensus among my cricket playing friends that the famous aus-SA match(400+ scores) was NOT the greatest match ever. It was actually the greatest batting performance ever.Maybe im biased because im a bowler,but personally id prefer to see an contest of bat and ball anyday.When an indian colleague of mine can accept criticism of indian players from me,then i know he is a playing fan

  • terry on June 23, 2008, 15:52 GMT

    anybody can love and respect the game, being a player or ex-player at any level can give you some further insight into certain aspects of the game but by no means does this suggest that they are a better judge or enjoy the game more. Put it this way, i know how pop records and pop groups make music but i like Jazz music more and i have no idea how BeBop was created.

  • harjeshwar on June 23, 2008, 15:40 GMT

    yeah fuly agree with the author,one has to play the game at some serious level to really appreciate its nuances..unlike many fans in India whose only exposure to cricket has been with a ruber ball in the back yard...for them cricket match is like an Indian film,always with a happy ending(India wins),any other result is sher betrayal..

  • marginally_stable on June 23, 2008, 15:30 GMT

    I agree with Mr. Chopra. I have had a lot of friends who had never played a proper game of cricket in their lives but would be the first ones to castigate a mistake that someone would make in an international match. To Mr dopppsy, I am not saying that people who play cricket are more superior fans or anyting, just that they have a different and more balanced view of the game. And its more fun for me to watch cricket with that breed of people.

  • dopppsy on June 23, 2008, 14:39 GMT

    Are you suggesting the playing fan is a superior or more desired kind of fan? If so, I'd have to disagree with you. That's akin to saying an ex-player makes for a better coach or commentator.

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  • dopppsy on June 23, 2008, 14:39 GMT

    Are you suggesting the playing fan is a superior or more desired kind of fan? If so, I'd have to disagree with you. That's akin to saying an ex-player makes for a better coach or commentator.

  • marginally_stable on June 23, 2008, 15:30 GMT

    I agree with Mr. Chopra. I have had a lot of friends who had never played a proper game of cricket in their lives but would be the first ones to castigate a mistake that someone would make in an international match. To Mr dopppsy, I am not saying that people who play cricket are more superior fans or anyting, just that they have a different and more balanced view of the game. And its more fun for me to watch cricket with that breed of people.

  • harjeshwar on June 23, 2008, 15:40 GMT

    yeah fuly agree with the author,one has to play the game at some serious level to really appreciate its nuances..unlike many fans in India whose only exposure to cricket has been with a ruber ball in the back yard...for them cricket match is like an Indian film,always with a happy ending(India wins),any other result is sher betrayal..

  • terry on June 23, 2008, 15:52 GMT

    anybody can love and respect the game, being a player or ex-player at any level can give you some further insight into certain aspects of the game but by no means does this suggest that they are a better judge or enjoy the game more. Put it this way, i know how pop records and pop groups make music but i like Jazz music more and i have no idea how BeBop was created.

  • Rafay on June 23, 2008, 17:15 GMT

    a very good article, which i completely agree with. I have always found it easy to determine whether a person is a player of the game, from the comments that he makes about it. a player here does not mean that he has to be involved with professional cricket or must be part of some club. A 'player' simply means that he loves playing whatever sort of cricket he is exposed to, be it street cricket, tape ball cricket, or indoor cricket(as some of us in the colder countries get confined to). It is only through playing that you begin to appreciate the value of all things cricket. For example, there was a general consensus among my cricket playing friends that the famous aus-SA match(400+ scores) was NOT the greatest match ever. It was actually the greatest batting performance ever.Maybe im biased because im a bowler,but personally id prefer to see an contest of bat and ball anyday.When an indian colleague of mine can accept criticism of indian players from me,then i know he is a playing fan

  • Kishore Sharma on June 23, 2008, 17:58 GMT

    The term that should be used, in the context of this article, is not so much 'fan' as 'connosseiur'. Not all fans are connosseiurs of the game. Within the segment of connosseiur fans I would agree that the one who has played would have a even more superior view of the game. However, we should also note that not all player fans are connosseiurs and that some non-player fans can be connosseiurs. In order to be more nuanced, the article would need to make this distinction.

  • AJAX on June 23, 2008, 18:47 GMT

    I once sat next to some ass who was training to be an umpire. It ended up being the most boring game I have ever seen even though Carl Hooper apparently bowled a delivery quicker than 45mph. The only time this guy showed a flicker of excitement was when the umpires got together to discuss the state of the ball. In an effort to bring the guy to life I drenched him with both my free beers and punched him in the face. Nothing! He just kept repeating his ridiculous gibberish on stats intermittently bringing up Law 10 Section 3 (c). The lasting effects of this encounter are that I am no longer distracted by a late cut or a reverse swinging yorker or a fielder on the boundary's edge that deserves some encouragement. I have learned to appreciate the simplistic eloquent art of using slow hand movements, inspired by a slower moving mind, to disappoint millions. The best fans are umpires-in-training and if you disagree with me then you are wrong.

  • Mike Holmans on June 23, 2008, 19:26 GMT

    I agree that there are fans who know how to watch a game and fans who only know how to cheer for their side, and that playing experience makes it a lot easier to know how to watch.

    But playing experience is not essential.

    I basically gave up playing at the age of 11 because I was so bad - I never even managed to bowl an overarm ball which hit the cut strip (I took up scoring instead so as to get to the school XI's games).

    But I learned how to watch by sitting next to a former first-class cricketer for many days a season, so I'm well able to understand the rhythms and the technical nuances of a long-form game.

    Watching cricket with appreciation is an acquired skill, but it is not necessary to be much of a player to acquire it, as many knowledgeable old ladies at Yorkshire's matches eloquently testify.

  • Ibrahim on June 23, 2008, 21:50 GMT

    Very true. It's not just exclusively cricket players, of course, but it irritates me no end when the batsman leaves one delivery--one delivery, mind you--to the keeper and the fellow next to me starts shouting down that batsman and abusing his career. Unfortunately even cricket reporters fall into this trap. George Binoy, for one, wrote recently that chasing 64 runs in six overs shouldn't have been a problem for India (against Pakistan in the Kitply Final). Was he serious? That's 10.67 runs per over--barely achievable on a good day. One three-run over and the required rate's up to 12. Unfortunately there's some blow-up myth that because of T20, batsmen are regularly scoring at 9 or 10 an over. Uh-uh. It rarely occurs even in T20. It's impressive, actually, how bowlers have surfaced considering the cricketing establishment's best efforts to turn them into pie-throwers. By the way, I completely agree with Rafay's comment.

  • NJ on June 23, 2008, 22:17 GMT

    you don't have to be a cook to appreciate good food (period)