Oh God, it’s all starting again. Another year, another international football tournament. Here in the UK, we can’t get so much as a T20 game on terrestrial television, but given the opportunity to show a bunch of overpaid wimps kicking a ball up and down a tiny pitch for 90 minutes, preceded and followed by retired wimps waffling on and on about the limited amount of action that took place in those 90 minutes, the television bigwigs wet their collective knickers at the prospect of clogging up every single damn channel with it.
I realise that the very fact that I am writing this here means, of course, that I am preaching to the converted. CWB readers are notoriously the classiest, sanest and most sensible readers on the internet. But there’s an off-chance that one of those rare football fans who can read words of more than two syllables may read this as the result of a Google search for more football-related articles with which to fill their day. So here are, in no particular order, my ten reasons why cricket rocks the socks off the other game:
- Cricket is a game of individual contests played by teams; football is a team game played by ego-maniacal individuals – which is pretty obvious, really. Cricket is all about adding to your own tally – how many runs can you score, how may wickets can you take – but you are always fulfilling your role within a team. In football, anyone can score, anyone can make the mistake that loses the game, and yet everyone thinks that they are the greatest player ever to don boots and the only one who can win the match. Being a cricketer means shelving personal ambition for the sake of the team; being a footballer means loving yourself more than you could ever be loved by another.
- No-one ever got sent out by a games master to play cricket in the rain – enough said. Cricket can only really be played in clement weather conditions. A game which carries with it the possibility of double pneumonia must, by definition, be a crap one.
- No cricketer ever fell flat on their face in an attempt to win favour with an official – even football fans are sick of watching players trip over a blade of grass and then attempt to convince the referee that their leg has been broken by an opponent. And if the referee doesn’t fall for it, their mates will surround the referee and shout at him like a drunken mob who’ve just been told that McDonald’s is closed. Try that in cricket and, as Andre Nel found out this week, you’ll be going home minus your match fee and with a special two week holiday.
- You can have an education and still be a professional cricketer – when did you last hear of a footballer going to university? In England, Frank Lampard is regarded as being ‘clever’ because he has 12 O levels. That’s entry level for most cricketers. And at some sides a degree is almost a minimum requirement, preferably one in something business-related. A footballer’’s knowledge of business tends to be limited to seeing how much they can get for selling their arse to a deodorant manufacturer.
- Even the morbidly obese can play cricket, just ask Yuvraj – When did you see a fat footballer? Ever? Compare that to a world with Yuvi, Mark Cosgrove, Jesse Ryder and goodness knows who else. Cricket isn’t only great, it is all-inclusive. You can be as fat as these three, as thin as Finn, or you can have the 6′10″ Will Jefferson batting with 5″5′ James Taylor. Size doesn’t matter. Shape doesn’t matter. It is a sport for everyone. Football, on the other hand, is mostly played by clones whose idea of diversity is to allow Peter Crouch to fall over once in a while
- In the last 44 years, England have reached 5 world finals and even won one of them. Winning the football world cup can’t be that hard, because France have done it and the French are the kids in the class with the word ‘Loser’ written on their forehead in green ink. Even allowing for the fact that England have made heavy weather of four of those finals and ended up losing them, it is still 5 finals more than the footballers have managed.
- Not every cricketer is an overpaid, preening, halfwit who blubs when things don’t go their way. Football is full of them, the players whose every mistake was someone else’s fault. Contrast that with Matt Prior and Craig Kieswetter both owning up to their deficiencies behind the stumps recently. Footballers would rather whine and pout until someone buys them another sportscar than do anything remotely introspective or exhibit an ounce of self-awareness
- Not only is the drinking of alcohol at cricket matches allowed, it is positively encouraged (I accept that this is not true in some countries, but you wouldn’t be allowed to drink at football matches there, either) – do I need to explain this one?
- No cricketer ever made a record as bad as this. Or this. Neither of which I am going to explain, because I can’t. What the fuck were they thinking?
- You can support your national cricket team without turning into a flag-waving moron. Near me, a guest house has been painted as the flag of St George. The same flags fly from at least half the houses in my street. Even people that I like – such as the parents of my son’s best friend – had the flags flying from their car windows. Yes, that’s the flag of St George, the Turkish guy and original Kolpak. Nothing like this happened for the cricket world cup, nor will it ever. Cricket fans know that you don’t need to trumpet your nationality. If you are in England, logic dictates that you are likely to be an England fan. If you support someone else, then you need to fly the flag and tell people who you support. Flying an England flag in England just tells us that your genitals are undersized and that your job description includes the words “Do you want fries with that?”.
You can tell that I am looking forward to the next month, can’t you?