THE CORDON HOME

BLOGS ARCHIVES
SELECT BLOG
July 27, 2013

Why is everyone talking about cricket?

Sam Blackledge
Does the cricket distract you at work?  © AFP
Enlarge

When you have been obsessed with a particular subject for as long as you can remember, what do you do when everybody else starts taking an interest too?

During the summer of 2005, many English cricket fans who thought they were part of a small, elite group suddenly realised they were not alone. For so long football had dominated the back pages - and often the front pages too - as we griped and moaned about how the real beautiful game never gets a look in. When Ashes fever gripped the nation, everything was different. Jonathan Agnew recently observed that the way people watch cricket in this country changed that summer.

Luckily for us precious die-hard fans, those nice people from Sky were kind enough to come along and remove cricket from "normal" TV, restoring once more the sport's long-held image of elitism that it had worked so long and hard to shed.

My company recently moved into a new office, and within clear view of my desk are two large plasma screens. This is not uncommon in a newsroom - we need to keep abreast of any breaking national stories. But just before the first Test began, both screens were tuned to the newly and entirely pointlessly renamed Sky Sports Ashes.

Weekdays during Test matches have now become something of a personal war of attrition. On the one hand, I have a busy and demanding job that requires concentration throughout the day. On the other hand, the Ashes is on. Every time the bowler reaches the top of his mark, my eyes shift inevitably from my PC screen to focus on the bright light in the middle distance. I don't even have to turn my head.

Then there are my co-workers. The editor-in-chief of my newspaper's sister paper is a cricket nut. He's obsessed with the game. This I can cope with. This I can identify with.

His news editor operates on a similar level, but seems strangely able to focus on his work even when Australians wickets are falling above our heads.

The guy sitting directly opposite me is Canadian. Yesterday he told me he made an effort to watch the cricket when "Stuart Smith" was batting but struggled to understand the scoring system and found it all a bit boring.

Our chief sub-editor is a rugby man, but recently revealed that he is a demon bowler for his T20 midweek team.

At the other end of the scale, there are those who can't stand the game. Our crime reporter pulls a face whenever cricket is mentioned. The web editor doesn't like the sun, or going outside at all, never mind any kind of sport. Arriving on Monday morning, he greeted me by asking: "Is that the end of the cricket now then?" When I said there are nine more Tests to go before January, each of them five days long, he sighed.

Then there are the Johnny-Come-Latelys. When our head-of-news discovered my love for the game, she mocked and called me a geek. But as the first Test was drawing to its dramatic conclusion, I received an excitable message asking how my nerves were holding up.

Wading into the growing debate, one of our trainee reporters described cricket as "just rounders in a straight line, innit?"

I don't yet know how I feel about my colleagues' sudden interaction with my lifelong passion. Sometimes I want to jump out of my seat and shout: "You don't understand! You weren't there at the beginning! It wasn't always like this, you know! Does the name Mark Lathwell mean nothing to you people?"

But for now I will content myself with the thought that I know more about what's going on than most of them. And if any of you are reading this in the office, which I expect you are, my message is this: Please don't change the channel. I promise I'll get back to work. Just one more over.

RELATED LINKS

Sam Blackledge is a journalist with a local newspaper in Devon

Fans

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (July 29, 2013, 13:11 GMT)

No Sky Sports these days being too busy... Following the Ashes, SA in SL, Pak in WI via mobile... Thanks to the ESPNCricinfo Android app that keeps me updated...

Posted by   on (July 29, 2013, 8:44 GMT)

Ok I slightly cringed at the Sky Sport Ashes renaming of Sky Sports 2 but I like the coverage and the idea of a dedicated cricket channel. Fan since Richard Hadlee was in his prime.

Posted by   on (July 29, 2013, 7:45 GMT)

I will be in Illinois this year between Ashes "home and Away" lags

Posted by MrKricket on (July 29, 2013, 5:20 GMT)

I liked cricket before it was cool...

Posted by landl47 on (July 28, 2013, 4:50 GMT)

I am reading this in rural Illinois, USA. There is nobody within a hundred miles of here who knows anything about cricket. When I mention it, they think I am talking about an insect that chirps at night.

I'd give a lot to be able to sit down with someone who understands the game and talk about The Ashes. Cricinfo is great, but a proper talk, face-to-face over a pint... in my dreams.

Comments have now been closed for this article