June 11, 2012

English cricket

What happened to the joy of cricket?

PDT Mathieson
Tino Best is chased after removing Andrew Strauss, England v West Indies, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 4th day, June 10, 2012
West Indies win plenty of fans with their passion, and the character with which they play the game  © Getty Images
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The phrase 'mind the windows, Tino' rung out around Edgbaston as the West Indies No. 11 strode to the middle on Sunday. In a session, Tino Best made history and nearly made more. The handsome pose he struck after a stroke (contact was irrelevant), the helmetless dash towards the team balcony on reaching 50, and the barked instructions at the senior batsman, Denesh Ramdin, showcased the joy of West Indies cricket at its best. It infected the English crowd and caused them to groan when he skied the ball to Strauss, who was the man least likely to be sporting enough to drop the catch.

The West Indies might have had criticism about their performance on tour, but they have warmed the hearts of those who have watched them. Darren Sammy is one of the most likeable and liked guys in international cricket. His broad, if slightly sheepish, smile on reaching his century at Trent Bridge was shared by everyone who saw it. Everyone was appreciative of a decent attempt at what is a wildly difficult job as captain of a flailing team, done with a good mood and a frequent grin. This is the joy of cricket.

Cricket is a well-loved sport. It is full of joy. Our treasured memories of the game are so relatable that we can share experiences with others anywhere in the world. The question is, have England lost this joy?

They are probably the best team in the world, and easily the most professional. In 2004, Freddie Flintoff made that famous quip about Best's stroke play, but such light moments on the field seem rare these days. Talking about their good, intense battle, Marlon Samuels said he doesn't like Onions, not even in his food. Onions' reply? That of a serious professional: cliché ridden and hardly uncontentious.

Off the field, England often maintain this attitude, with the obvious exception of Swann and occasionally Anderson. They appear from the outside to get satisfaction out of cricket, but not joy.

Best, on the other hand, lit up Edgbaston on a day where bad light stopped play twice. Majestic (and self-aware) with the bat and fiery and irresistible with the ball, the chant of 'Tiiiiiiinooooooo' rang out instead of an ode to local boy Ian Bell.

West Indies win plenty of fans with their passion, and the character with which they play the game. On a day where play was going their way, they had a great time where England seemed indifferent, if not downtrodden. There was no 'mind the windows, Tino' moment, except for when the windows were actually in danger.

Cricket is entertainment. As you would tell the lead in a West-End musical, "The audience has a good time if they think you're having a good time." Lighten up, England.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by rob heinen on (June 12, 2012, 11:43 GMT)

I

Where did it all go wrong? one might ask. Test Cricket? ODI cricket? T20 Cricket?They all have their share of followers. There are those who want to stay with the old, there are those who want the old to vanish, or at least to undergo passive euthanasia. What's happened to upset spirits? What's happened that started this rivalry. In my opinion there are some aspects distinguishable that have nothing to do with cricket and that are nevertheless integrated in the discussion on what cricket should look like. PDT Mathieson put it very simple in his article 'Tino Best and the joy of cricket'/'What happened to the joy of cricket?': Cricket is there for the spectators to enjoy. No spectators = No cricket. It would be a good thing for the players to remember that.

Posted by rob heinen on (June 12, 2012, 11:42 GMT)

II

As we all know and feel these days, India are a nation on the rise. Whereas the Western world is suffering from the consequences of a few greedy capitalists, the indians shrug their shoulders and wonder what's going on. All's going wonderful, isn't it? They earn the money to spend and they spend it. Priceless cricketers & blonde pompom girls. But? What's that? Is cricket the goal of all this glitter and glamour? The answer, my friends I'nm afraid, is: No. An emphatic NO! All is in honour of the Mammon, served by a happy few. They delegate their sons and daughters who pretend to have a keen interest in the game of cricket, but who are probably as knowledgeable as my grandson on the subject. Which is, to keep thing clear, not at all.

Posted by rob heinen on (June 12, 2012, 11:41 GMT)

III

If the Indians want to have cricket Indian style let them have it. If some cricketers from other nations want to participate let them. Although I feel that the latter should be loyal to their nation's teams when selected, for they were trained at cost of their nation's cricket board, which in effect is all the tax payers from their countries.

In the Western world corporate life has taken over cricket as well. Salaries rose and play got better. Play got better? I wouldn't know about that, but even so, if play got better, did the entertainment value rise? I daresay no. Furthermore. The investors in cricket have built large stadiums. The seat price has risen exponentially it seems, for the posh stadiums remain empty. To me this looks a clear signal: Did we want the expensive stadiums? I daresay No.

Posted by rob heinen on (June 12, 2012, 11:40 GMT)

IV

To me it's clear that it is about time for a few changes. If India doesn't want to play test cricket anymore. Let them be. We'll get on with it anyhow. Let the investors take their loss and give cr4icket back to the cricketers. They know that in the end it is the enjoyment in the game, that fills the stadiums, not how well you're seated. Let the players have their own enjoyment, their spats, their own characters. Let cricket be cricket again and not turn in the direction that football went. That's dead and costing the tax payer huge amounts of cash in spite of it being private venture. CRICKET FOR THE CRICKETERS.

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