When I was a kid, I was pretty good at football, but I never really enjoyed watching ‘Match of the Day’ and I never developed any sense of loyalty to a team. Even now I don’t have any particular football team that I support, which can cause problems when I’m travelling in Premier-League-crazy Asia and the concept of an English guy not even bothering to watch football is not at all understood.
I was never very good at cricket. I mean real cricket. Street cricket with a tennis ball was always good fun, and this is back in the days before parents worrying about paedophiles on every street corner so we were often out from breakfast to sunset playing cricket in the street. But, when it came to real cricket the ball was too hard and moved too fast for me to be effective.
Yet, now I am an adult, the only sport I really like going to watch live is cricket. Every summer as the international games play out at the Oval, Lord’s, Edgbaston, I’m either blagging a ticket to a corporate event or hunting around on eBay to ensure I can get in to watch the games.
I was at the one-day international between England and Australia at Lord’s on Sunday and Angie asked me ‘why do you like cricket?’ I think it was when England were grinding along on a very slow run-rate and she was contrasting this spectacle with the constant action of a football match.
People have written books about why they like cricket, but I think that for me it boils down to two key points:
1. The game is slower, but that encourages an immense need for strategy and thought. 5-day test match cricket is like a chess match. Even the one-day game has to be played with considerable thought. Twenty/20 games are good fun to watch, but have far less depth. When the game can play out in so many directions, it’s fascinating to watch and see what happens.
2. The live experience at cricket is always fun. Fans are mixed together from opposing sides. Alcohol is free-flowing. Trouble and violence is extremely rare, yet alcohol and opposing fans are never ingredients at football matches. I listen to cricket on the radio too, but the live experience is best. The fans usually interact with each other and friends are created as the banter is exchanged.
Now, it’s all over for this summer as I’m not going to any more ODI games – so roll on the 2010 games..!