August 31, 2013

Are you a supporter or a spectator?

Andrew Hughes
Kevin Pietersen celebrates England's Ashes victory with fans, England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day, August 25, 2013
Does getting to feel KP's rock-hard abs make it worthwhile to be a supporter?  © Getty Images
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Throughout this long, long summer, a season that has dawdled and lingered like a scruffy-haired, badly dressed schoolboy trudging his weary path to that first lesson of the autumn term, there has been one constant; one insistent, unavoidable, continuous background note of discord and irritation. I am talking, of course, about Michael Vaughan.

More specifically, about Michael Vaughan's voice. On radio, on television, and on Twitter, Vaughan has been droning away for months; the wasp at the picnic you can never quite chase away. In fact, when wasps evolve to use social media (and they will, mark my words) they will sound like Michael Vaughan:

"Just seen a fat bee trying to take off #rise #whoateallthenectar"

"Can't help wondering why these bees aren't stinging? #gutted"

"Calm down bees. It's just banter #windingupbees"

Following Vaughan's Twitter feed produces strange effects. Just as reading about the Tarantula Hawk Wasp can elicit sympathy for tarantulas, so following Vaughan can cause you to feel sorry for Australian cricketers.

It can also lead to your swearing explosively on buses in the middle of the afternoon, and banging your head repeatedly on your laptop. When I took mine to be repaired, the man behind the counter wearily pointed me in the direction of the Vaughan-damage annexe, littered with shattered keyboards, mangled mobiles and axe-damaged radios.

So for the sake of my health, and the well-being of my electronic devices, I have decided to abstain from Vaughan for a few weeks. Inevitably, just days before I embark on my Vaughan-fast the unthinkable happened. He said something that I agreed with. Sort of.

"Plenty of time to rest from Sept 16 to Nov 21. Can't sell tickets then rest five-star names."

The man's got a point. Taking a ten-week rest after having done the day job for a massive 32 of the preceding 98 days is the kind of schedule many ordinary people would consider something of a holiday. What kind of ordinary people? People like the ones who will be attending the international matches this September, having paid up to £100 per ticket, plus parking, programme, and extravagantly priced champagne/lager/tap water.

Naturally, Stuart Broad disagreed.

"I know if I was paying to go and watch, I'd want to go and watch England beat Australia, and that's it."

Broad, like most cricketers, seems to think we're just cheerleaders. Slightly podgy, badly dressed cheerleaders who can't dance, but cheerleaders none the less. If England win, we're happy. If they don't win, we're sad. Is that all he thinks cricket means to us? How depressing.

Let's say I was to become a supporter, rather than a spectator. What's in it for me? I pay large amounts of money, risk getting face-paint on my retina, develop flag-waver's elbow, and lose my will to live listening to the Barmy Army's entire repertoire on a continuous loop. In return for what? Do I get a thank-you text from Matt Prior? A credit in Joe Root's inevitably awful autobiography?* An invite to a late-night urination party?

Anyway, I agree with Michael Vaughan. For those of us who will be attending the September festivities, a small refund might be in order; firstly because my ticket to Edgbaston promises England versus Australia, not "England Irregulars" or "Whichever England Players Can Be Bothered To Turn Up", and secondly because having decided to rest half of the Ashes-winning side, Team England decided that they simply couldn't deprive us of the pleasure of more Trott.

* It hasn't been written yet, so I cannot say it will certainly be awful, but I feel confident in saying that Getting To The Root will be a bit of a stinker.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

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Posted by wibblewibble on (September 4, 2013, 16:17 GMT)

I love watching Trotty bat in ODIs actually, rarely screws up and scores pretty darn quick.

Posted by   on (September 2, 2013, 1:43 GMT)

It is OK for a team to have a 'win at all costs' mentality, as long as they play fairly. However, treating spectators as appendages to this strategy is appalling. We are not there to give it to Broad or get behind England team. We are there, first and foremost, for entertainment. We are not there to do your job for you but be entertained by you. It is times teams respect that.

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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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