Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cut out the jingoism - let's watch the cricket

The England and Wales Cricket Board’s extraordinary capacity for getting in wrong, and for vulgarity, was on view yesterday afternoon and with characteristically crass timing. Stuart Broad had just had the session of his life, Australia were on their knees at 133-8 and the crowd was buzzing. We were all chatting and supping and clapping and cheering – not necessarily in that order - when from nowhere a singer with a microphone appeared at the Vauxhall end. When I say “singer” in fact he was (allegedly) from the Royal Opera House to which grand institution I fervently hope he has now returned. The last thing we need was an attempt to get us to sing along to Land of Hope and Glory – we’d just seen a smidgeon of glory from young Broad anyway and we were well full of hope it goes without saying. The crowd, to their credit, did not hurl fruit at the hapless Tenor but just carried on as if he was not there. Nobody joined in and he slunk away – not his fault of course; some halfwit at the ECB thought that it was a good idea. Hmmm!

This series has been characterised by attempts by the England cricket authorities to hype it up. Draw a veil over Cardiff – although the singer in the silver suit will surely live in infamy as the worst performer ever to appear at Sophia Gardens. But the one sided nature of the official flag waving is improper in the extreme. At the beginning of play we have had a row of kids waving the flag of St George to greet the players – and opposite them another row of kids… waving the flag of St George. And around the ground it is the same, not an Aussie flag in sight. And before play the big screen has shown a grossly over-the-top video designed (one assumes) to fire up the patriotic fervour of the crowd. Message one to the ECB; when it’s The Ashes we don’t need firing up. Message two to the ECB; the more extreme your jingoism the more it might just fire up the other side to stuff you. Especially if they are from Down Under.

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