Bi-Polar Cricket Supporting
I know it’s not just happening in cricket, but this series against India has really emphasised the phenomenon of bi-polar cricket fandom. Please don’t think I’m making light of bi-polar disorder or associated/similar conditions: I am using the term in a purely literal sense. For reasons perhaps led by politics, print journalism and TV coverage narratives, we are led to believe that an England victory means we are world-beaters and a defeat means at least half the staff should be sacked.
So far we have had one close test match and each team has been soundly beaten. Doesn’t sound to me too much like we need to worry about unfair home advantage in these circumstances. Actually, how many whitewash series do we actually hear about, worldwide, in series of four or more Tests? I can’t think of too many recently.
One of the beauties of a five match series is the way that the momentum can ebb and flow. I love a series poised at 2-1: there’s still some real juice left in the series and there has been some real doubt over the end result. Chastise me for saying this if you will, but I don’t want England to send every team away packing with their tails between their legs. I want us to have to scrap and fight, to sometimes be sublime but also to have to dig ourselves out of difficulty.
Surely that’s why we all value cricket so much as a sport, especially at Test level? It’s not meant to be predictable and it’s not meant to always make sense. Sometimes a team’s performance will amount to much less than the sum of its parts, and sometimes the opposite will occur.
Yes, England still need to work out their best options for the top order, but this isn’t new. It’s been unstable since Strauss departed and we’re not going to fix it overnight as much as we may want to. So please, no more screaming and shouting about dropping Cook or bringing in Rory Burns. There’s a reason the ECB appointed Ed Smith – calculated, considered, calm and rational – as National Selector. He and his team might decide to give Burns a shot and ask Jennings to step back; they’re pretty unlikely to jettison Cook until his own opening partner is secure and even then I’m fairly confident that Cook will pick the right time to bow out, head held high as a champion of England cricketing highs.
The extreme views haven’t just been limited to basic selection issues: who are all these people claiming Stokes should never be allowed to play for England again?! What substances are they abusing?? The man has not been convicted of a criminal offense. Clearly his behaviour was idiotic but there’s no need to banish him! As for the ECB’s disciplinary procedure, I hope their official line is a ‘sentence’ of a suspension, to have been considered served when he missed the last Ashes series Down Under.
We need to stop expecting perfection from these players, whether with their own technique (it’s so easy to criticise from our sunloungers) or personal conduct (you maybe haven’t ever got in a drunken fight, but enough of us have had embarrassing work Christmas parties to show a more forgiving side, methinks).
Let’s just focus on supporting our team: giving credit where it is due without hysteria, and ever pushing for improved performances in the same vein. I’m backing our boys to win this series 4-1; I’m sure there will be more batting collapses and more ineffectual bowling from both sides and it’s just the way I like it.