May 1, 2013

The unluckiest cricket fan? Think again

When your team is a minnow, the players you support are your older brothers, trying to dish out punches to the playground bullies

Peter Borren and his team-mates come across as real people, not as cricketing deities living in a bubble of glitz and glamour © KNCB

If I were a dog, I would be a mongrel. As a horse I would constitute 5% of a Tesco burger.

Most people start out as a glint in their parents' eyes. In my case, my parents sat down over a drink and had a conversation along the lines of "How shall we leave our mark on the world? I know… " So it came to pass. Without going into unnecessary, and frankly unsavoury, technicalities, let's say they wove a web that ultimately created the world's least fortunate cricket fan: viz, me.

I sense a merry-go-round of head-shaking: Australians referring to Indian homework assignments gone wrong, Indians harking back to MS Dhoni's overseas disasters against England and Australia, the English to Kiwi comeuppance, New Zealanders to humiliation in South Africa, and South Africans… well you can stop being so smug, the next World Cup isn't too far away.

Let me run you through the evidence, and the brutal burden of suffering I bear on a daily basis:

My parents grew up, met, and were married in Zimbabwe.

They emigrated to the Netherlands, where I was born.

Then they moved to Scotland when I was two, and lived there on and off for 15 years.

I moved to Ireland three and a half years ago.

So yes, my cricketing heart lies with Zimbabwe, Holland, Scotland and Ireland. This may make me sound like the Don Juan of cricket fans, but let me reel off a few stats:

In 2012, the four teams did not manage a single ODI victory against a top-ten nation
In 2012, they did not manage a single Test victory between them
In 2012, they managed two T20 International victories between them… against Bangladesh

If I am to be the Don Juan of cricket fans, I am the kind who has juggled four girlfriends in a year and had two pecks on the cheek from the ugliest girl in class to show for it. It also goes to show just how great the gulf in quality between the best and the rest is, and how little top-quality cricket the rest are offered to bridge that gulf. That, however, is a matter for another day.

It is not all doom and gloom, though. What are the odds of an Indian, Pakistani, English or Australian fan rubbing shoulders with their heroes? I have shared a pint with the Zimbabwean cricket team, played against Peter Borren, and seen Kevin O'Brien loitering by the boundary, watching me bowl an over of long hops. These are real people, not cricketing deities living in a bubble of glitz and glamour so impenetrable they may as well be from Mars.

So high-fiving Borren on the boundary after he led Netherlands to victory over England at Lord's carries extra meaning. Coming from the sedate cricketing backwater of Holland, you knew Borren and his team have achieved something extraordinary. But what does it really mean? It means I can imagine being in Borren or O'Brien's shoes. I play on the same grounds as them, drink in the same club houses, and carry the same frustrations that come with playing a niche sport in countries where football is king.

Like everyone who is part of cricketing communities in associate countries, I feel I belong to a great big - albeit frequently dysfunctional - family. Rather than a Don Juan, I am the kid brother looking up in awe at his elder siblings as they try and dish out punches to the playground bullies.

Michel van Oorschot has played club cricket in Oman, Holland, Scotland and Ireland. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ganesh on May 2, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    The reason why you have been able to get up and close to the cricketing teams is because cricket is almost non-existent in the countries you have mentioned. Apart from a select few, nobody cares for cricket or its players in The Netherlands, Scotland , Ireland or even Zimbabwe. I bet you haven't shared a pint with the Dutch football team or have played with the Irish Rugby team. The same holds for Cricket fans in India or Pakistan. I'm sure most Indians will not have problems rubbing shoulders with their football team.

  • Shahbaaz on May 2, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    I could relate to your story partly coz being an Indian born & brought up in UAE, I feel more affinity towards the UAE cricket - and also a HUGE frstration at the lack of successful campaigns.

    All the best & hope to read more from you!

  • Dummy4 on May 2, 2013, 3:32 GMT

    Umm, didnt Zim defeat Ban in a Test in 2012??

  • Bored on May 1, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    Neat article! Hope to read more from you!

  • Sarthak on May 1, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    Hey! I was enjoying reading this but you stopped a bit too soon.

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