October 20, 2009

It's our game

Andrew Hughes


It's the banner wavers who make the game possible © Cricinfo Ltd
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Who’s the most important person in cricket? I’ll give you a clue. It isn’t His Modiness. It isn’t Freelance Freddie, Lord Sachin or even Jowly Giles Clarke (bless him). Geoffrey Boycott thinks he’s quite important. But he isn’t.

It’s you. And me. And everyone else who spends their spare sofa time gawping at Cape Cobras versus Delhi Daredevils or sitting on a plastic seat in the drizzle, watching Leicestershire’s middle-of-the-table tussle with Glamorgan. Without us, buying our match tickets, cable subscriptions, biographies and IPL-themed underwear (Kolkata’s gold-lamé knickers look particularly alluring), there would be no cricket.

But the game’s upside down right now. Players are at the top of the tree, and then come administrators, franchise owners, television executives, coaches and commentators. We plebs are at the bottom of the heap and we have to like what we’re given. So we get major international tournament finals on a Monday, we get players hiding in the dressing room because it’s a bit wet/chilly/slippery/bee-infested, we get pay-through-the-nose match tickets, we get inane television commentary; and we get adverts, endless bloody adverts on top of exorbitant satellite subscription fees.

And if being treated as a cash machine, a sack of disposable income or an economic unit isn’t bad enough; those above us in the cricket food chain always seem to know what’s best for us. English hacks are the worst for this. Take the Natwest Series between England and Australia. No one cared about it apparently, no one was interested, it was a giant snoozefest. Really? Try telling that to the thousands upon thousands who paid £70 and upwards for a ticket and sat shivering in the stands. Apparently, we need less international one-day cricket. Why? We like it.

But we don’t count. Our job is just to appear in cutaway sequences, to make television producers’ lives easier by turning up in wacky costumes, waving badly spelt banners and sometimes setting fire to effigies. Oh and we just happen to pay for the whole thing. So why do we get treated like peasants? Because no one in the game has taken the time to understand us. Players think it’s them we love. Commentators think we need them to explain the game to us. Journalists think we’re too stupid to do what they do, and administrators think we’re too lazy to climb the greasy pole.

And the truth? Well, when it comes right down to it, I can only speak for me, I suppose. Maybe some of it will strike a chord. But I didn’t borrow a book from our village library and copy the freeze-frame pictures of Richard Hadlee’s bowling action because I wanted to BE Richard Hadlee. I didn’t spend hours every rainy summer day playing tape-ball cricket with my brother in our living room because I hoped some day to earn my county cap. I didn’t catch a bus into town to buy the Playfair annual every April because I wanted a job with the ICC, and I don’t write this paltry blog because I’m hoping to bump into Gideon Haigh at a cocktail party

Millions of us love the game for its own sake, not for what we can get out of it. It’s about time we were listened to, because we ARE cricket.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Darren on (October 22, 2009, 12:01 GMT)

Thank you - beautifully written

Posted by vin99 on (October 22, 2009, 0:07 GMT)

Nothing on the internet has really stirred me enough to actually comment on something...UNTIL i read this article. This article does not do justice sitting on cricinfos page two site, instead it should be framed and hung on every office associated with managing this great game.So the insanely stupid green eyed administrators that 'run' this game don't lose sight of what is the lifeblood of the game....the fans. I don't think they understand the power that the fans have over the game of cricket.We have the power to ensure that cricket dies...just as much as we have the power to make it flourish.All we have to do is switch of our tv's and stop attending games...it's something that i never would have fathomed before, however everytime i see a citi moment of sucess, a dlf six or watch on in disgust as horrible commentators with no skill whatsoever attemp to weave in a sponsor into there conversation, i cant help but think that cricket is one big glorified commercial.Cricket makes me sick

Posted by Bob on (October 21, 2009, 11:43 GMT)

James Smith's comment is typical of the Western paranoia that is felt by a lot of English and Australian cricket fans, when they talk about the so called "sub continent mafia". It may come as a shock to you, but plenty of Indians don't like Modi, or the consumerism that is promoted by the OTT IPL. However, we get these English supporters who act as if India is this evil entity that is destroying the fabric of the game. Complain about the BCCI all you want, and a lot of Indians will agree with you (myself included) but don't generalize as if all Indians are in favour of the BBCI's actions. It just betrays your true agenda when you do that. Moreover, you don't even make clear that you are referring to India ruling the cricketing world, as you just mention India "ruling the world". If you believe that, then that is a bit sad. Open your eyes and you will see what countries genuinely have the biggest influence politically, economically, socially, legally, etc.

Posted by slightly less selfish fan on (October 21, 2009, 6:45 GMT)

What a piece a self-centred rubbish. I am sure you love the game Andrew, but it isn't yours. You get your enjoyment from observing the endeavours of others. Cricket NEEDS to be played not watched. Sure the players love when there is a huge crowd with lots of excitement and I am sure they love the money generated because of fans like you and me BUT they turn up and play just as hard when the stands are empty. Do you still turn up when you know there is going to be nobody there? Just because you spend lots of time and money watching other people do what they love doesn't make what they do yours. Cricket is a game played by people busting a nut to do their best ... that's it. That we get a chance to interact with them while they do it is just a bonus for us. By the way I didn't catch much of a reference to Women's cricket in your blog. Is Women's cricket yours as well or can they have that themselves since it doesn't sound like you have much interest in them.

Posted by Rukshan on (October 21, 2009, 5:44 GMT)

His Modiness!!!...hahaha....loved ur article....keep it going....we need writers like you!

Posted by Imtiaz Ahmed on (October 21, 2009, 5:13 GMT)

@ Karan: Man you are hilarious!! I totally agree with.

In general i think none from the current commentary lot should exist, most of them don't even know what they are talking let alone the game aside.

I am of same ideas shared by Andrew Hughes. I must say i was enjoying every bit of it. Great work and keep em comming!!!!

Posted by Ram on (October 21, 2009, 5:04 GMT)

At last we see an article that talks about an issue that no one talks about. Hat's off to Andrew. You cannot overstate the pathetic treatment meted out to cricket fans, be it in England, or in India. But thats where the comparison ends. I agree that quality of life and the luxury aspect of an average Indian fan may not compare to our western counterparts in daily life. But the fervour and passion towards cricket that is displayed by the Indian fan is compares with the bast of fans in any sports. Hell, the money that an average fan shells out in India to watch cricket is enormous when compared to the average per capita income in this country. It was pathetic when they telecast fans drinking water out of a tap during a match in Rajathan, in the inaugaral season of the IPL. Mr.Modi obviously thought that cheerleaders in skimpy outfits are a higher priority, than basic clean drinking water for the fans, and maybe he was right as far as sponsors,broadcasters and commentators were concerned.

Posted by Looch on (October 21, 2009, 3:03 GMT)

Brilliant article Andrew, couldn't agree with you more!!

Posted by Brendan Layton on (October 21, 2009, 2:43 GMT)

Bravo Andrew. A very good point to rise and well made.

Wouldn't really be making any money without us would they?

Posted by Nomi on (October 21, 2009, 1:52 GMT)

I didn't even know I had these thoughts inside my heart until you wrote them in this piece. Thank you, Andrew.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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