Abolish birthday honours for sportsmen, and tell the Indians to get over themselves

I’m being serious. I’m fed up with the whole damn thing. It’s great that we won the Ashes. It’s great that Andrew Strauss was the first England captain to win a test series in Australia since the Henry VIII lookalike. It’s also great that Alastair Cook decided to sod the coaches, bat like he did when he was a youngster, and scored all those runs. However, making Strauss and Andy Flower OBEs, and giving Cook an MBE, is just plain silly. It’s also bloody unfair. Was James Anderson not integral to our success? Once again the batsmen get all the plaudits while the bowlers are treated like also-rans.

To pick out individuals in team sports is inherently unjust. But honouring the whole team throws up all kinds of problems. There is no way to allocate rewards fairly. Paul Collingwood is currently walking around with an MBE, courtesy of his seventeen runs and four wicketless overs at the Oval in 2005. Yet Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott have diddly squat. If that’s not a total farce, I don’t know what is.

In my opinion, birthday honours create too much controversy and are likely to cause divisions in the dressing room. Look at the team that triumphed in Australia. Strauss is an OBE. Cook is an MBE. Ditto Pietersen, Bell and Collingwood (all part of the 2005 team). However, Jonathan Trott, who is our highest ranked batsman in the ICC rankings, remains a mere pleb. How is that fair? I seem to remember Trott doing pretty well this winter too!

And what about the poor old bowlers – the rank and file, the working class northerners (or so the stereotype goes), the foot-soldiers who do the donkey work while the aristocratic batsmen sit with their feet up sipping chateau la fete – have they been recognised? Have they hell. The batsmen have got five gongs between them. Yet Bresnan/Broad, Swann, Tremlett and Anderson haven’t got a single one.

The England cricket team is becoming a reflection of society in general (well, almost). The difference between the haves and have-nots is alarming. If a batsman performs like Alastair Cook did in 2010 he gets a reassuring arm around the shoulder (“don’t worry old chap, you’re undroppable”). If the likes of Matthew Hoggard have one bad game, they’re out on their ear (“thanks for coming mate, don’t forget to shut the door on your way out”).

Ok, I’m exaggerating somewhat, but you get my point. It’s the same in most sports. I love Lee Westwood as much as the next golf fan, but what on earth has he done to deserve an MBE? He hasn’t even won a single major. Yes, he got to world number one this year, but so did Luke Donald. I don’t see Donald sipping champagne outside Buckingham Palace.

The whole thing just doesn’t sit well with me. Unless sportsmen and women do charity work, as in the case of his Beefiness, they shouldn’t get honoured by the Queen. Except, maybe, in exceptional circumstances in individual sports. Steven Redgrave can keep his knighthood I suppose.

While I’m on a roll, and this rant is gathering steam, I’d also like to slate India for refusing to use the DRS in the upcoming test series against England. How utterly typical. The Indians have been in a sulk about the DRS ever since they lost to Sri Lanka in 2008. During that series, the Lankans made eleven successful referrals while the Indians mustered just one. Instead of admitting that they didn’t quite understand how to use the referrals properly (even though it’s hardly difficult) the Indians had a hissy fit and blamed the system itself.

Like a spoilt child who throws a tantrum every time they lose at snakes and ladders, the Indians have stubbornly refused to see the benefits of the DRS system ever since. They don’t like it because they don’t want to. Admittedly, there were a few teething problems when the DRS was first introduced (most of them Daryl Harper related) but since then every other country has got along with the system just fine. Only the Indians are currently opposing the use of the DRS in all international matches. Personally I hope they get a series of shocking umpiring decision this summer. If they do, they’ll only have themselves to blame.

Right, that’s me done. I’m off to see the doctor about my blood pressure – and maybe audition for a spot on Grumpy Old Men.

James Morgan


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